Edmonton Oilers: Matthew Benning Ready for Top Four Role

Edmonton Oilers defenceman Matthew Benning has been working on shooting and accuracy this offseason. This should come in handy when considering the power-play time he may have at the start of 2016-17.

The 23-year-old shined in his rookie campaign, posting three goals and 15 points through 62 games. He was also a plus-8 and racked up 111 hits and 64 shot blocks.

Benning, who transitioned well from NCAA hockey to the NHL, has evident puck-moving potential. He is a good passer and skater who can move the puck up the ice and start the play from his own zone.

Coming into next season, the Oilers will need their defence to step up in wake of Andrej Sekera’s injury. Because he will be out to start the year, Kris Russell will likely be called upon to step up and take over his role on the second-pairing left side. This leaves an open slot for Benning to step up and earn a full-time job on the Oilers’ top four.

First off, he takes good care of the puck and plays a complete game at both ends of the rink. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound defender is a physical player who can stack up well with his opponents and doesn’t shy away from throwing his weight around. For the most part, Benning is also able to maintain control and keep the puck out of danger; however, he needs to avoid giveaways and also must limit his mistakes, especially in his own zone.

Overall, he is solid defensively, and working on bringing more of an edge to his offensive game would help Benning make the cut. He is a hard-working defenceman with tremendous upside. He also puts a lot of effort into his game and is still transitioning to the NHL. All he has to do is prove he can adjust well to top-four hockey.