RE 17-18 MATT BENNING: SOMETHING FROM NOTHING

If they hadn’t found Matt Benning they would have had to invent him. A perfect fit for a substantial need, he played his rookie season as if he knew all the words. You’ll go a long time before seeing another flat-out rookie play with that kind of presence. Matt Benning is bona fide. (Something from Nothing).

MATT BENNING 2016-17

  • 5×5 points per 60: 0.71 (5th among regular defensemen)
  • 5×4 points per 60: 7.16 (in just 25 minutes, 1-2-3)
  • Corsi for 5×5 %: 52.1
  • Corsi Rel 5×5 %: 2.8
  • DFF Elite 5×5 %: 50.2
  • DFF Elite Rel 5×5 %: +2.8 (31 percent of TOI v. elites)
  • Shots on goal/percentage: 69 shots/4.3%
  • Boxcars: 62, 3-12-15
  • (All numbers via Puck IQStats.HockeyAnalysis.com and hockey-reference)

RE 17-18: 71GP, 6-19-25 (.352)

  1. I’m surprised he is next up. He’s going to get more playing time, including power play. Benning may not improve from his rookie season but he’s going to be more comfortable in the role and get a push in offensive areas.
  2. What did the possession numbers show? Fantastic results. He is over 50 percent in Corsi for 5×5, Corsi Rel and his DFF (Woodmoney) against elites. Plus he played against the best 31 percent of the time. Wow.
  3. Are there any negatives about his play? I think he’s pretty solid. You look for things like being out of position to make a hit or adapt to aggressive forechecking. He has wheels, good passing skills and a quick brain.
  4. Aside from that, what does he do well? Benning is rarely standing still, always in motion and seems to be able to move quickly in any direction. Can pass the puck well, hits like a truck, he’s a game rooster.
  5. Any concerns at all? The big item is injury. He plays a rugged style and is not a big man.
  6. What new assignments will he have this year? I think we’ll see lots of top 4D time, meaning more minutes and more important moments. Also a lot more than 25 minutes on the man advantage.
  7. Who did he play well with? He played 306 minutes with Andrej Sekera (55 percent Corsi for percentage), 246 minutes with Darnell Nurse (50.1) and 131 minutes with Oscar Klefbom (54.1).
  8. Is he better than Darnell Nurse? I hate these kinds of questions because we know (man do we know) young players develop along their own lines. Benning had a better year in 2016-17, although I also liked Nurse’s season.
  9. Can Nurse pass Benning? Nurse is one year younger, that is important. We will have to wait and see how it turns out.
  10. Let me rephrase: Who, based on currently available information, would be the better candidate to move up to the second pairing? I will say Benning. It allows Russell to move LH side and Benning can play a sound, fairly complete game.
  11. We’ve talked about power play, what about PK? The Sekera injury means more time is available everywhere and Benning’s skill set is ideal for the 4×5. I think he’ll definitely get more time there.
  12. How much more will Benning play? Great question. I had a look at this when getting ready for the RE estimate. Last season: 16:36. That included 15:29 evens; 41 seconds PK and 25 seconds power play. I think he may see as many as four more minutes a night, perhaps divided up as two minutes evens and one each for special teams. Edmonton needs help in both areas.
  13. Is he a value contract? The supreme bargain contract is McDavid, but after that Benning might be next in line. Patrick Maroon, Jussi Jokinen, I’ll say Anton Slepyshev too. Benning is right there and if he can deliver top 4D minutes? That’s breaking news!
  14. How was he in the playoffs? I thought he played well, rookie mistakes aside. The costly errors for Edmonton (to my eye) were not on his watch.
  15. Could he go backwards next season? Yes, of course. Injuries could derail him, defense is a very difficult position to play well while staying healthy.
  16. But you like him? Plenty. A wonderful year. He does all kinds of little things, like constantly moving his feet, that hurry up the process. The young man has a great head on his shoulders.
  17. Who would you play him with? Kris Russell on the second pairing. We went over this.
  18. I didn’t like your first answer. Ah.
  19. It that makes the third pairing wobbly. Oilers are going to need two solid pairs, let’s take them in order.
  20. Who is left for third pair? Nurse-Gryba, Auvitu-Franson when they sign him? Don’t know, but I run Benning second pair with Russell because that gives them the best chance.
  21. Why this song? Perfect song for Benning. What a Godsend.

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31 Responses to "RE 17-18 MATT BENNING: SOMETHING FROM NOTHING"

  1. OriginalPouzar says:

    I was adamant at this time last year that Matty Benning would need minor league development time. I guess I was right as they did let him marinate in the AHL for 2 games.

    Wow – what a season from the rookie pro.

    Can he build on it, repeat it, stagnate or regress? All are possibilities – I don’t see regression or stagnation but development isn’t linear and we do see d-men take steps back in the sophomore/junior years.

    Matty is likely going to have the opportunity to play 2nd pairing minutes to start the year – with Russell on the left side, that pairing could survive? Flourish? That might be too much to ask but I think they might be able to tread water before Reggie gets back.

    Matty should see increased PP time (PP2 to start the year) – does he run with that opportunity? I do think we need to disregard his exception 5X4 P/60 number from last year due to tiny sample size.

  2. BornInAGretzkyJersey says:

    Question for LT: curious who you’d take on your team if you could only pick one… Benning or Petry?

    I’d take Benning all day long, I like the cut of his jib. Petry is a good player, but his sideburns are too long (in this case, not rugged enough).

  3. OriginalPouzar says:

    If Matty runs with the 2RD opportunity, when Sekera comes back we can play Russell on the 3rd pairing at ES which would be a boon – he’d have to go back to his right side likely which isn’t the best but having him on the 3rd pairing means we have a very deep defense.

    Come on Matty!

  4. Woodguy v2.0 says:

    #BenningForCalder

    His results out of the 3rd pair and up on 2nd pair with Sekera were exactly what you look for when projecting Dmen who will be difference makers in the top 4 in the future.

    Gordsent.

  5. Munny says:

    Woodguy v2.0: Gordsent.

    Well done.

  6. Lowetide says:

    BornInAGretzkyJersey:
    Question for LT: curious who you’d take on your team if you could only pick one… Benning or Petry?

    I’d take Benning all day long, I like the cut of his jib. Petry is a good player, but his sideburns are too long (in this case, not rugged enough).

    I was never bullish on Petry before he arrived in pro (seriously) but he showed me a lot from early days in OKC. It’s a very difficult question to be honest, but I will dodge the question by taking Benning and his value deal. 🙂

  7. Munny says:

    If I had to pick a weakness for Benning it would be boxing-out, crease protection, something along those lines. Which means he might struggle with more PK time.

    After the injury he seemed a tad hesitant, which cost him a few times going into the corner for puck retrieval. Hopefully he can return to earlier form this coming season.

  8. OriginalPouzar says:

    BornInAGretzkyJersey:
    Question for LT: curious who you’d take on your team if you could only pick one… Benning or Petry?

    I’d take Benning all day long, I like the cut of his jib. Petry is a good player, but his sideburns are too long (in this case, not rugged enough).

    Benning had 1.8 hits/game last year.

    Petry had 2.1 hits/game last year.

  9. Thinker says:

    OriginalPouzar: Benning had 1.8 hits/game last year.

    Petry had 2.1 hits/game last year.

    He’s soft. Send him back to college.

  10. McNulty says:

    OriginalPouzar,

    The more important element of Benning’s game that is absent in Petry’s (and in most players’ games) is that Matt has the ability to lay out a clean hit that can legitimately shift momentum and change the complexion of a game, like that hit on MacKinnon: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ms-xR94uwUU.

    That’s a somewhat rare skill, and one that had considerable value IMO.

  11. OriginalPouzar says:

    I don’t disagree at all that Benning was a bigger hitter than Petry. Benning threw a few big hits throughout the year and, yes, one or two of them seemed to change momentum.

    I simply take issue with the general consensus that Petry is a soft player – Petry was very good at closing the gap at the blueline and tacking the player out a skill that, to me, is more important than a big hit a handful of times a year.

    Taking aside contracts, its tough to say which player I’d want – oubviously I take Matty given current contracts. I will say this, I believe the following is a Cup contending D:

    Klef/Larsson
    Sekera/Petry
    Nurse/Benning

  12. Kinger_Oil.redux says:

    – Great post LT! I don’t know, there is no doubt Benning took advantage of an opportunity and excelled in the 3rd pairing role. It’s a massive difference though from rarely being put in a position where you are asked to play 20 minutes a game, to now mostly playing 20 minutes a game, 60 games into career

    – Plus if you are right, and his partner is Russel, it’s a really big ask for an average skater, to be on 2nd pairing IMO.

    – I’m not as convinced as you are that he’s plug and play top-4 D now, especially without a really strong partner (like Sek).

    – Sek will be missed a lot more in terms of slotting everyone properly IMO. I’m not talking circa 2013 terrible D, but not as good as some are projecting

  13. BornInAGretzkyJersey says:

    OriginalPouzar: Benning had 1.8 hits/game last year.

    Petry had 2.1 hits/game last year.

    Okay, but Petry is also six years Benning’s senior. In his age-23 season (2012-13) he had 2.33 hits/game, while over the time he was in Edmonton he averaged 1.93 hits/game. As Petry began his age-23 season he already had 108 games to his credit. Not to mention Petry is two inches taller and 10 lbs heavier, so he owns a bigger frame to project through opponents… better tools to hit, as it were. It’s a contrast of styles, really.

    Nik Lidstrom hit guys enough to take them out of the play when the situation merited the action, but he didn’t hit to hurt or rub out the opposition. That didn’t make him ineffective. Similarly, Pronger *spits* hit to hurt, but it didn’t make him ineffective. They were just two of the best defensemen of their era, using the tools at their disposal to the best of their abilities.

    For the record, I am/was a Petry fan. Just brought it up as a point of comparison. They both have similar impact on the game, but I’ll take the average sized guy who plays bigger than his frame would suggest over a bigger man who doesn’t play with an edge. All. Day. Long.

  14. blainer says:

    I think Benning did establish himself quite well in the playoff’s. Towards the end of the season though he was platooning in and out of the lineup with Gryba depending on who they were playing.

    I do think this player got a great learning experience in the spring and hope he has put the work in over the summer as you can see the skill is there.

    His numbers were strong with Klef so I wouldn’t mind him playing there.I guess he didn’t play much with Russell to get any kind of a sample size.

    Wonder how a Russell Larsson pairing would do while Sekera is out.

  15. jm363561 says:

    Benning was drafted in the 6th round in 2012 by Boston but did not sign with them and became a free agent. “Gordsent”? – methinks this must have had Chia all over it.

  16. godot10 says:

    Petry was playing the toughest opposition (with Smid) by the end of 2nd NHL season. I think Benning would (will) likely still be eaten alive this year facing the toughest opposition (with Kris Russell).

    Petry pretty much is a right shot version of Sekera.

    But you know, MacT had full confidence in Fayne, Ference, and Nikitin.

    Until Sekera gets back…I’m for

    Nurse, Larsson
    Klefbom, Benning
    pray.

  17. treevojo says:

    Nurse will have a longer and better career then Benning.

    I would bet Woodguys condo on it!

    I hope Benning continues his rookie season trajectory for Oilers sake but I wouldn’t discount Nurse breaking out in a big way this year.

    The guy will be a stud.

  18. godot10 says:

    jm363561:
    Benning was drafted in the 6th round in 2012 by Boston but did not sign with them and became a free agent. “Gordsent”? – methinks this must have had Chia all over it.

    Benning saw Carlo and McAvoy, right shot D drafted high by the Bruins. And if he didn’t, I’m sure Chiarelli mentioned it too him, and then showed him the void behind Larsson.

  19. treevojo says:

    godot10:
    Petry was playing the toughest opposition (with Smid) by the end of 2nd NHL season.I think Benning would (will)likely still be eaten alive this year facing the toughest opposition (with Kris Russell).

    Petry pretty much is a right shot version of Sekera.

    But you know, MacT had full confidence in Fayne, Ference, and Nikitin.

    Until Sekera gets back…I’m for

    Nurse, Larsson
    Klefbom, Benning
    pray.

    How’d the Oilers make out Petry’s second year playing the toughs with Smid?

  20. godot10 says:

    treevojo: How’d the Oilers make out Petry’s second year playing the toughs with Smid?

    The problem wasn’t when Petry (and Smid) were on the ice in 2011-12 and 2012-2013. The problem was when Petry was off the ice. The Oilers special teams, including PK, were good both seasons.

  21. treevojo says:

    godot10: The problem wasn’t when Petry (and Smid) were on the ice in 2011-12 and 2012-2013.The problem was when Petry was off the ice.The Oilers special teams, including PK, were good both seasons.

    No

    The problem was that that Petry(2nd season) and smid were depended upon to face the toughs at all.

    Man it’s nice to have Larsson.

  22. OriginalPouzar says:

    godot10:
    Petry was playing the toughest opposition (with Smid) by the end of 2nd NHL season.I think Benning would (will)likely still be eaten alive this year facing the toughest opposition (with Kris Russell).

    Petry pretty much is a right shot version of Sekera.

    But you know, MacT had full confidence in Fayne, Ference, and Nikitin.

    Until Sekera gets back…I’m for

    Nurse, Larsson
    Klefbom, Benning
    pray.

    Yup, as I said, replace Russell with Petry as 2RD on our healthy d-corps and we are winning cups. Imagine a mature Jeff Petry getting 2nd pairing minutes with an elite 2nd pairing partner – wow!

    With respect to your pairings above, I’m generally OK with them but we know we won’t see them to star the season:

    1) Coach Todd has been express that he wants to keep Klef/Larsson together so I’m sure we’ll start the season like that and they’ll only be broken up if the bottom two pairings aren’t able to tread; and

    2) Coach Todd trusts Russell and I can’t imagine him not giving Kris top 4 ES minutes with Sekera out (I’m hopeful that Benning runs with his opportunity and Kris can play 3rd pairing when Sekera is back).

  23. BornInAGretzkyJersey says:

    godot10,

    I remember well what you saw, and agree. Petry, nor Smid were the problem. They were both also much higher draft picks than Benning. Which makes his performance so much more impressive to me. Question is, can he sustain his established level of play and make incremental improvements?

    Petry covered his bet as a second round pick in becoming a reliable two-way 4-5 RHD. What is Benning’s ceiling? Competent, gritty all-round 5-6 RHD who can move up for a stint, need be? To me that more than covers the bet of a sixth rounder.

  24. BornInAGretzkyJersey says:

    treevojo,

    Agree with every word.

  25. digger50 says:

    Benning had a great year.

    However, in the playoffs the Oilers defence got run and worked over hard. That’s where balance is needed and Gryba should have went i for Benning a few times. He was a better tool for the job, and Bennings skills were duplicated by others.

    I don’t mean to put down Matt in any way.

    Just talking about Russel / Benning / Sekera skill sets – they are similar

  26. Revolved says:

    Projecting Benning to get more points than Larsson is bullish, but not crazy, bet.

    I also like Russell-Benning second pair, but then there’s no one to clear the crease.

    I think Nurse-Benning may be about ready for more tough minutes, with Russell-Gryba, the analytics dungeon, to share them.

  27. russ99 says:

    Revolved:
    Projecting Benning to get more points than Larsson is bullish, but not crazy, bet.

    I also like Russell-Benning second pair, but then there’s no one to clear the crease.

    I think Nurse-Benning may be about ready for more tough minutes, with Russell-Gryba, the analytics dungeon, to share them.

    Russell is the defensive player in the pair, and Benning is also good in our end, especially for a rookie. They’ll be a fine defensive pair.

    You guys get too hung up on the Corsi for defensmen. For me it’s do the job in our zone first, move the puck forward second, and Russell on his natural side with Benning will be able to do the job in our zone in lieu of Sekera.

    Benning is solid at getting the puck forward, and Russell should improve on his natural side.

    More vital is keeping Klefbom – Larsson together 20 min a night, since we’ll be putting way too much on Talbot if we break up that pair.

  28. jp says:

    Revolved:

    I also like Russell-Benning second pair, but then there’s no one to clear the crease.

    Is there anyone to clear the crease on a Sekera-Russell 2nd pair?

  29. magisterrex says:

    jp: Is there anyone to clear the crease on a Sekera-Russell 2nd pair?

    Lucic

  30. jp says:

    magisterrex: Lucic

    Russell-Benning should be fine then!

  31. admiralmark says:

    treevojo:
    Nurse will have a longer and better career then Benning.

    I would bet Woodguys condo on it!

    I hope Benning continues his rookie season trajectory for Oilers sake but I wouldn’t discount Nurse breaking out in a big way this year.

    The guy will be a stud.

    Nurse has all the physical ingredients necessary to become said stud. So I can agree with this statement save for 1 critical component. It requires development on what goes on between the ears. I certainly hope as a fan that this development does indeed take place. But can anyone really predict that a prospect will see progress in this area?

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