OILERS NO. 4 PROSPECT (winter 2016) MATT BENNING

Matt Benning is one of four recent college signings eligible for this year’s list, and the second of this group to make the Top 20. He is the top ranked defender on this winter’s list, and this is his first appearance on any Top 20 list (was signed after the summer edition was published). In ranking Benning ahead of several young defenders, it is with the knowledge that Benning’s arrival in the NHL and early success probably represents the outer marker of reasonable for the group behind him.

PREVIOUSLY NO. 4 ON THE WINTER LIST

  • December 2005: L Jean-Francois Jacques (166 NHL games)
  • December 2006: C Andrew Cogliano (720 NHL games)
  • December 2007: D Taylor Chorney (124 NHL games)
  • December 2008: C Rob Schremp (114 NHL games)
  • December 2009: C Chris VandeVelde (213 NHL games)
  • December 2010: D Martin Marincin (162 NHL games)
  • December 2011: L Teemu Hartikainen (52 NHL games)
  • December 2012: D Martin Marincin (162 NHL games)
  • December 2013: D Martin Marincin (162 NHL games)
  • December 2014: C Bogdan Yakimov (1 NHL game)
  • December 2015: R Anton Slepyshev (17 NHL games)

We have run out of impact performers by No. 4, and that is true for the entire decade. No doubt Andrew Cogliano is the best player on the list, and I do think Martin Marincin will have a career. Pleased for Chris VandeVelde, fourth-round selections don’t often get to 200 NHL games.

BENNING CAPTURE 1

WHAT THEY SAID ON SIGNING DAY

  • Shoots Right, 6.0, 203
  • Boxcars: 41, 6-13-19
  • NHL equivalency: 82, 4-10-14
  • 2010-11 AJHL Champion Spruce Grove Saints
  • 2012-13 Clark Cup Champion Dubuque Fighting Saints
  • 2015-16 NCAA Hockey East Champion Northeastern University Huskies
  • Kirk Luedeke, The Scouting Post: Although he has just average height, Benning is a punishing hitter who moves around the ice initiating contact.  He’s got the vision and a soft touch on the puck to be effective in the transition game, and he also showed some improved power on his point shot this season for the Huskies. He’s not a flashy or dynamic offensive presence, but he chips in with key production, as he did in helping the Dubuque Fighting Saints to the USHL’s 2013 league championship. Benning is positionally savvy with a willingness to do the dirty work and like his dad, Brian, might be one of those players who goes on to fashion a solid if unspectacular NHL career because of his versatility and smarts. Source
  • Corey Pronman: The nephew of Vancouver  (and former Boston assistant) GM Jim Benning was a key cog in the Northeastern Huskies’ run to the Hockey East championship. He doesn’t have ideal height, but plays a rugged, physical and smart defensive game and is a little underrated in terms of his vision and passing skills. He’s not going to be a big point producer in the pros, but he plays bigger than his modest 6-foot frame and looks like a future third-pairing guy and special teamer. Currently unsigned, though reports at the end of the season had the Bruins expressing interest in bringing him out of the NCAA on an ELC. Source

benning-russell-jones

2016-17

  • Simon Boisvert on Matt Benning: I think he needs a full season, perhaps they will call him up before if there are injuries. Don’t forget he is a righthanded shot, which is very convenient for the Oilers. He is a defenseman, he is fresh out of college hockey. He is playing exactly the way he played during training camp, he is very confident with the puck, he skates well, he is well positioned and he supports the forwards very, very well. Source
  • Benning after NHL debut: “It was definitely exciting. I was a little nervous in the first period but I settled in pretty quick. The guys in the dressing room kind of prepped me for this. They have a bunch of really dynamic forwards out there so you’ve got to be careful not to look at the puck because they will make you look stupid so just moving my feet was the big thing and trying to make clean passes out of the zone.” Source
  • Todd McLellan in training camp: “He’s coming along. Playing these games when you’re used to just playing on the weekend in university is something we have to be cognizant of. Some guys who’ve played in this league for a long time are used to the pace. Some younger players, college guys, don’t play this much. And the games aren’t so heavy.” Source

MATT BENNING, 2016-17

  • 5×5 points per 60: 0.59
  • 5×4 points per 60: 8.05 (in 7:27)
  • Corsi for 5×5 %: 55.7
  • Qual Comp: second pair (estimate)
  • Qual Team: top pair (estimate)
  • Corsi for 5×5 % REL: 3.4
  • Shots on goal/percentage: 8 shots
  • Boxcars: 7GP, 0-2-2
  • Information via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com and hockey-reference.

THE FUTURE

Matt Benning has been surprisingly effective in his NHL audition and had a solid two game sojourn to the AHL (2gp, 1-1-2). As in the case of Drake Caggiula, slotting Benning here could be a mistake on my part—there are younger players who are showing great promise in junior and European leagues.

Here’s the thing: I am not certain any of the players I have ranked No. 5 through No. 40 will arrive at first year pro with this kind of promise. Is Benning’s current situation due to getting a push from management, and will he fade by this time next season? Possible, but he looks good in a very small window and his numbers show real promise.

I don’t really know enough about Matt Benning to rank him this high, and as you know the Top 20 ranking doesn’t give extra value for being close to NHL-ready. Although Benning is unlikely to be a big point producer in the NHL, and his size means there will be some concern about his durability, I like his speed, passing ability and decision making.

Perhaps it is a reflection of the overall weakness of this year’s list, but that may sell this player short. We know what we know about him, and the sample size is a giant warning signal, but his resume is solid, he was heavily pursued, and I think he belongs here.

THE 2012 DRAFT

  • Nail Yakupov, No. 1 overall. He never got established in Edmonton, now plying his trade for the St. Louis Blues. We wish him the best, and I hope he scores 30. Graduated to the NHL.
  • Griffin Reinhart, No. 4 overall. Reinhart is experiencing real challenges in year three of his entry-level deal. Ranked inside the Top 20.
  • Mitch Moroz, No. 32 overall. Seems to be getting more playing time in the final year of his entry-level deal. This site has him at an estimated 2.12/60 5×5, but playing only 8:30 a night. Candidate for the Top 20.
  • Jujhar Khaira, No. 63 overall. A strong season last year got him some NHL time and he is very close to the NHL at this time (despite current injury). Khaira is one of the few success stories for Edmonton from this draft. Ranked inside the Top 20.
  • Daniil Zharkov, No. 91 overall. Injured during a tryout with the AHL team last fall, he is back in the KHL now and healthy. No longer in the organization.
  • Erik Gustafsson, No. 93 overall. Productive defender in Europe, Oilers passed on opportunity to sign him. Signed with the Chicago Blackhawks and played well for them in 2015-16. Currently in the AHL (Chicago). No longer in the organization.
  • Joey Laleggia, No. 123 overall. Undersized puck mover has offense and he has chaos. Remains an extreme long shot for NHL success. He is playing a lot (estimated TOI: 21:15) and posting good numbers (estimated 0.85/5×5 60) but he is not on a Torey Krug path. A candidate for the Top 20.
  • John McCarron, No. 153 overall. Didn’t sign after college, now in the ECHL. No longer part of the organization.
  • Drake Caggiula, not drafted. Passed through the 2012 entry draft, Edmonton signing him during the signing season this year. Considering the investment cost of Yakupov and Reinhart, there is a good chance the Chiarelli signing represents Edmonton’s best value from 2012 draft eligible players. Miles to go. No. 3 prospect.
  • Matt Benning, drafted No. 175 overall in 2012. Benning was pursued by the Bruins (and others) before deciding on Edmonton. I expected him to spend the entire season in Bakersfield and it is a good bet we see him there for 30 or more games by the time this season is through. This is perhaps a hopeful bet, but the arrows and competition dictate Benning’s landing. No. 4 prospect.

 

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36 Responses to "OILERS NO. 4 PROSPECT (winter 2016) MATT BENNING"

  1. Jethro Tull says:

    Saw him very good last night. Reminded me of Davidson in that there’s not much chaos to his game. Old head on young shoulders. I like found money.

  2. jp says:

    Jethro Tull,

    Agreed on the Davidson comp. He has the look of being competent despit not being very toolsy.

  3. treevojo says:

    MR. LOWETIDE ET ALL

    Just to clarify with my earlier comment in the last thread with regards to Beavis and Butt-head.

    I get the feeling it may have been taken out of context by some.

    It was supposed to read like this:

    GOOGLE TRANSLATE

    OILERS WIN

    BEAVIS ” Ha Butt-head see Hall went minus 2 tonight in a losing effort and when he scored he looked off his team-mate to celebrate by himself. OILERS sure aren’t missing that attitude in the dressing room.”

    OILERS LOSE

    BUTT-HEAD ” Ha Beavis see New Jersey won tonight and now have more points in the standings then Edmonton. Obviously Hall is turning around that franchise all by himself. Sure would be nice to have a player like that in Edmonton.

    I have no stake in the game. This is just how I read the drive-by shootings that happen here after wins and losses.

    Hope this makes more sense.

  4. Showerhead says:

    Hmm. Honestly I have not seen Benning that good. I think my view is a sign that I see Edmonton’s 2016/17 D as more or less NHL caliber – in past years, I think what Benning has done out there would have impressed me a lot more because relativity.

    He seems to be smart / a gamer but I don’t see him progressing past the bottom pairing as time goes by. Oh well – found money, says I!

    And of course I could be wrong.

  5. Showerhead says:

    One thought I have had is that Benning looks like a guy using every tool in his toolbox and trying very hard and being kinda smart and so through a desperate maximization of his abilities, is acquitting himself well.

    To me this is, in a way, the opposite of Puljujarvi who has acquitted himself well by doing a few things at a high level, if rarely. I mean his line doesn’t drive play and sometimes the puck dies with him as it would for a rookie but every once in a while he makes a quick turn or protects the puck or fires off a surprising shot at a good NHL level… so where I think we’re seeing Benning near the top of his NHL potential, it’s clear JP will have much more to give.

    Once again, subjective. Once again, could be proven wrong with time.

  6. kinger_OIL says:


    Showerhead,

    – Yeah I didn’t see him as an NHL D either: Certainly Nurse-Benning was not impressive in T.O.

    – It is a real eye-opener: how bleak our prospect pool is: with our now “mediocre” team.

    – We do have at the margin some NHL players with farm competition, which is progress

  7. Professor Q says:

    treevojo,

    Definitely understand and have both been a part of and called out before the wave action we sometimes exhibit.

  8. stush18 says:

    kinger_OIL:

    Showerhead,

    – Yeah I didn’t see him as an NHL D either: Certainly Nurse-Benning was not impressive in T.O.

    – It is a real eye-opener: how bleak our prospect pool is: with our now “mediocre” team.

    – We do have at the margin some NHL players with farm competition, which is progress

    I honestly don’t think our prospect pool is that bleak.

    There is a lot of defensive depth. I’d say we have a couple defenders in the ahl right now that could prolly be playing in the bigs.

    Jones, bear, paigin, berglund, Marino, and even lagesson all look like very smart bets.

    Icing a team on offense with mcdavid shouldn’t be hard anymore. We can fill his line with players like rust, sheary, etc.

    Maroon is filling the Kunitz spot, and may have found himself another twenty million dollars thanks to his chemistry.

    Go cheap on wingers, keep the centre depth

  9. Centre of attention says:

    I know the Oilers have been struggling lately, but it could be worse.

    We could be Islander fans. Now THAT’S a team worth getting worried about. Losing 4-0 tonight, out shot 27-14.

    I think the Islanders are trollin’ for Nolan this year.

  10. Showerhead says:

    Yeah I’m not sure how to quantify our prospect depth. Lowetide makes a good point in his post – #4 seems to be where it normally drops off. It’s anybody’s guess as to who, if anyone, below this point will make an impact.

    One of Chia’s strengths has been college FA signings / found money types which is good because holy F will this team ever need a good value contract or few as the years go by. Hopefully that trend keeps up, Pitlick keeps sacrificing goats to the gods of health, etc.

    But yeah. As for how rich / poor the prospect cupboard is, I’ll leave it to you, kinger_OIL and STUSH18.

  11. geowal says:

    It’s hard not to think that you’re violating your NHL readiness is not a factor rule, albeit subconsciously. I agree with Showerheads take, this might be near his ceiling (6th D)

    I see enough upside, without tons of risk, in Bear and Jones to put them higher. But hey, crapshoot and all, and it’s your list!

  12. Bank Shot says:

    Like Showerhead, I also think Benning hasn’t been good. I think he’s clearly been the weakest defender since he started playing and I can’t wait until the Oilers get back Davidson or Rusell to push him out of the lineup.

    That doesn’t mean Benning won’t be better next year. Look at Nurse year to year for example, but Benning isn’t cutting it right now.

  13. JJS says:

    This one’s for you LT.

    Thanks for all you do.

    http://theawesomer.com/ghost-in-the-shell-trailer/391472/

  14. Lowetide says:

    JJS:
    This one’s for you LT.

    Thanks for all you do.

    http://theawesomer.com/ghost-in-the-shell-trailer/391472/

    Looks fantastic. Has a Blade Runner feel (with more lighting).

  15. Showerhead says:

    JJS:
    This one’s for you LT.

    Thanks for all you do.

    http://theawesomer.com/ghost-in-the-shell-trailer/391472/

    Oh wow. My roommate was raving about this just yesterday. Apparently it’s a remake of some kind?

    Also, well, Scarlett.

  16. Pouzar says:

    Jim Matheson ‏@NHLbyMatty 8h8 hours ago
    Drake Caggiula hurt in exhib on Oiler flight to Anaheim which means must be healed enough to skate in practices. Or going to Bakersfield

  17. Side says:

    Showerhead: Oh wow. My roommate was raving about this just yesterday. Apparently it’s a remake of some kind?

    Also, well, Scarlett.

    It’s a live action version of an anime movie with the same name:

    http://m.imdb.com/title/tt0113568/

  18. Alpine says:

    I’ve said before that I don’t love CF% for evaluating dmen, but Benning is rocking a 59% CF (57 score/venue adj) through 6 games. For a guy people think doesn’t look good, he also has given up by far the least HD chances as well. He’s dragged Sekera’s numbers in the right direction as well.

    Now it’s a small sample size, and I imagine the extremity of his numbers will smooth out after a while, but the numbers like him a lot so far. He’s being sheltered somewhat, but isn’t that what you want guys to look like when being sheltered?

    From my own eyes, he looks fine and admittedly not as good as the numbers. But I’d say he’s been good for sure. I don’t think he’s any worse than Russell and I think he moves the puck better than Kris as well. if someone should lose their spot once Russell or Davy is back, I’d take out Gryba before I take out Benning.

  19. Lowetide says:

    Pouzar:
    Jim Matheson ‏@NHLbyMatty8h8 hours ago
    Drake Caggiula hurt in exhib on Oiler flight to Anaheim which means must be healed enough to skate in practices. Or going to Bakersfield

    I love Matty but that is a strangely worded tweet.

  20. Centre of attention says:

    Lowetide: I love Matty but that is a strangely worded tweet.

    With a 300 character limit, you must get as many thoughts into one tweet as possible. 🙂

  21. Centre of attention says:

    http://edmontonjournal.com/sports/hockey/david-staples-oscar-klefbom-needs-breather-as-oilers-face-toughest-test

    Interesting perspective here by Staples on maybe reducing Klefboms EV minutes slightly and giving him a breather competition wise.

    I definitely think Oscar would take advantage of that and his play would improve. He has been ridden hard for the beginning of the season (and last) and he is still under 200 NHL games played. He can definitely work his way back to top pairing but for now maybe we try this:

    Sekera-Larsson
    Klefbom-Davidson
    Nurse-Benning

    That lineup intrigues me. One wonders where Davidson will actually slot when he returns.

  22. Stelio Kontos says:

    Lowetide: I love Matty but that is a strangely worded tweet.

    Can always tell if matheson said something, because it is either oddly worded, or involves Drew Stafford.

  23. Chachi says:

    Lowetide: I love Matty but that is a strangely worded tweet.

    Seems pretty clear to me. Obviously Caggiula was injured by the exhib on the plane the Oilers took to Anaheim and it also healed him at the same time (kind if like accupuncture) allowing him to skate in practice. It also looks like either Colton or Bobby Orr (damn spellcheck!) is going to Bakersfield and was on the same flight as the Oilers.

    I tell you, those exhibs on airplanes can be a really mixed blessing. They had to order a new one once for a flight I was on and it caused a 3 hour delay. On the other hand they have healing properties…

  24. OmJo says:

    Pouzar,

    What were the Oilers doing playing an exhibition game on a plane??

    That’s good news though. If he’s going to Bakersfield it’s probably for a conditioning stint. He’ll be a welcome addition to the team – finally.

  25. frjohnk says:

    Centre of attention:
    http://edmontonjournal.com/sports/hockey/david-staples-oscar-klefbom-needs-breather-as-oilers-face-toughest-test

    Interesting perspective here by Staples on maybe reducing Klefboms EV minutes slightly and giving him a breather competition wise.

    I definitely think Oscar would take advantage of that and his play would improve. He has been ridden hard for the beginning of the season (and last) and he is still under 200 NHL games played. He can definitely work his way back to top pairing but for now maybe we try this:

    Sekera-Larsson
    Klefbom-Davidson
    Nurse-Benning

    That lineup intrigues me. One wonders where Davidson will actually slot when he returns.

    I was just running through some numbers for our D.

    Player____scoring chance against/60___HDCA/60___high danger goals against/60
    Larsson______25.2_________________13.6________2.9
    Sekera_______19.2_________________10.8________1.0
    Nurse________20.2_________________12.7________1.6
    Gryba________21.5_________________13.3________0.7
    Russell_______20.0________________11.3________1.3
    Klefbom______24.8_________________12.9________2.5

    Klefbom and Larsson are pretty high event when looking at these numbers

    I know it is not proper to compare Dmen from team to team because of systems, quality of competition, quality of teammates, but fuck it, this is how Larsson and Klefbom rank in the league in some on ice metrics

    Larsson is 5th worst with 13.58 high danger chances against per 60 while on the ice.
    Klefbom is 14th worst with 12.88 high danger chances against per 60 while on the ice.

    Larsson is 4th worst with 2.89 high danger goals happening against per 60 while on the ice
    Klefbom is 5th worst with 2.54 high danger goals happening against per 60 while on the ice

    Larsson is 15th worst with 25.1 scoring chances against per 60 while on the ice
    Klefbom is 18th worst with 24.8 scoring chances against per 60 while on the ice

    Larsson was considered a shot and chance suppressor last year while playing the toughs
    This year he is on the opposite end but still playing the toughs.

    I knew his numbers would increase coming from a low event team like NJ and going to a higher event team such as Edmonton. I always questioned the “suppression” numbers from last year and believed the low numbers were more due to NJ’s system.

    I looked at the numbers a couple of days ago, they both need to cut down scoring chances against but didnt realise that Larsson was actually leading the league in goals against from the high danger area with 13, while Klefbom was tied for 6th worst with 11.

    So they need to cut down the chances against, otherwise the Oilers goalies will have it tough sledding to stop the goals against numbers

  26. Bruce Wayne says:

    frjohnk,

    What is really interesting to me about those numbers is that they confirm the eye test. And yet if you ask fans what they have seen from Larsson, they won’t talk about all the chances from right in front of the net. It is almost as if they didn’t see them.

    It is funny because both stats and eyes depend on the eyes. Numbers are really just an aid to memory, so that we don’t forget what we’ve just seen.

  27. Lowetide says:

    Chachi: Seems pretty clear to me. Obviously Caggiula was injured by the exhib on the plane the Oilers took to Anaheim and it also healed him at the same time (kind if like accupuncture) allowing him to skate in practice. It also looks like either Colton or Bobby Orr (damn spellcheck!) is going to Bakersfield and was on the same flight as the Oilers.

    I tell you, those exhibs on airplanes can be a really mixed blessing. They had to order a new one once for a flight I was on and it caused a 3 hour delay. On the other hand they have healing properties…

    Haha. Exhibs must be reduced on all flights!

  28. Hooperdan says:

    Chachi: Seems pretty clear to me. Obviously Caggiula was injured by the exhib on the plane the Oilers took to Anaheim and it also healed him at the same time (kind if like accupuncture) allowing him to skate in practice. It also looks like either Colton or Bobby Orr (damn spellcheck!) is going to Bakersfield and was on the same flight as the Oilers.

    I tell you, those exhibs on airplanes can be a really mixed blessing. They had to order a new one once for a flight I was on and it caused a 3 hour delay. On the other hand they have healing properties…

    I have no idea why, but this may be my favourite lowetide comment of all time haha. Well done.

  29. Stelio Kontos says:

    Hooperdan: I have no idea why ,but this may be my favourite lowetide comment of all time haha.Well done.

    I think it was the humour.

  30. judgedrude says:

    OmJo: What were the Oilers doing playing an exhibition game on a plane??

    I think that they were playing a game of mini-sticks on the plane.

  31. Soup Fascist says:

    Three things about Benning that I notice that make him more effective than other D men who may have more tools:

    1. Gets shots through from the point – even if they aren’t rockets.

    2. Moves puck quickly and with purpose – off the glass is a last resort.

    3. ALWAYS positioned to give his D partner an outlet.

    He will make mistakes to be sure, but I sense Benning is the unspectacular D-man that everyone wants as a partner. He is Charlie Huddy, sans facial hair.

  32. Soup Fascist says:

    judgedrude: I think that they were playing a game of mini-sticks on the plane.

    Have to play on the plane. Nugey got his ministicks confiscated by security for playing in the hallway at the JW Marriott on the last roadie to LA.

  33. Chachi says:

    Hooperdan: I have no idea why,but this may be my favourite lowetide comment of all time haha.Well done.

    Thank you, but all credit should go to Mr. Matheson for the inspiration.

  34. SayItAin'tSo, Gretz, SayItAin'tSo! says:

    frjohnk,

    This doesn’t really surprise me. I think it will take a few more games (probably into the 30ish mark) before we see that pairing really settle down.

    During the Toronto/Oiler game Ferraro was discussing Russel who had mentioned to folks that it was quite the shift moving from Calgary’s system over to Dallas’ quicker transition focused game. Said it was a really big adjustment and he had some trouble with it, though he went on to state that coming to the Oilers was actually easier because they run a similar setup.

    Larsson went from being the distributor on a shut down pairing on a shutdown team to being tagged as a first pairing defender partnered with what basically amounts to a softmore on one of the highest event teams in the league (not this year but recently) I can only imagine that there is a bit of a learning curve here.

    I don’t love the parings numbers but I’m not gnashing my teeth over them either. They could be better and I’m still seeing good arrows overall. I expect they will settle down as the season continues. Hoping to see Larsson become a bit more assertive on breakouts and headman passes. I watched a lot of highlights over the summer and i know he can accomplish those tasks in spades but he seems deferential to Klef at the moment. I’m also perfectly fine dealing back the EV TOI for the pairing on nights where Nurse is kicking the jams. We may see that a bit on this short road trip against “slower” teams.

  35. Scungilli says:

    frjohnk: So they need to cut down the chances against, otherwise the Oilers goalies will have it tough sledding to stop the goals against numbers

    So why are the Oilers so bad at this? Is it that they get bad defencemen all the time that look good on other teams?

    It looks to me like the defense are getting hung out to dry by forwards and by playing with guys who should be on a lower pairing. Nobody can carry a team playing like that alone.

  36. Professor Q says:

    Are we still on the Hall trade, people?

    We have no idea if we’d be in the same situation to *have* him *possibly* score some more to get us over those 3-2 scores or whatever.

    I know some say Larsson hasn’t helped a yarn but I’m fairly certain earlier a bit ago someone came out with stats lauding Larsson with Klefbom.

    We wouldn’t have that otherwise, no matter your assertion that we would. Everything would be different and we could very well be 30th place.

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