The Edmonton Oilers have taken care of some offseason business.
According to an official announcement via the Edmonton Oilers website, the Oilers have signed 24 year old defenseman Matt Benning to a two year contract. The Oilers claimed to be releasing the full details of this deal but they have not done so by any stretch of the imagination, we believe that this is going to be a one way deal for Benning but we do not have official confirmation from the Oilers in that regard.
Additionally the Edmonton Oilers chose not to release the financial details of this deal and some have suspected that the decision to withhold that information was designed to avoid potential backlash from their fan base, however the details were released by National Hockey League insiders shortly after the announcement was made. TSN Oilers insider Ryan Rishaug is reporting that the contract will carry an average annual value of $1.9 million per season and that would bring the total value of the deal to $3.8 million over the full term of the deal. According to Rishaug Benning will earn $1.8 million in the first year of the deal and $2 million in the second year of the deal, it's unclear if there are any potential bonuses on the deal that Benning can trigger but that seems unlikely.
The young defenseman has spent his past two seasons as a professional hockey player playing almost exclusively for the Oilers, appearing in 62 games during the 2016-2017 season and recording 3 goals and 12 assists for a total of 15 points and he finished that season with a plus minus rating of +8. In this most recent season Benning appeared in 73 games for the Oilers and recorded 6 goals and 15 assists for a total of 21 points. Despite the Oilers struggles last season Benning once again managed to finish with a positive plus minus rating, this time ending the year with a +5.
In spite of his respectable numbers over the past two seasons Benning has been a controversial figure on the Oilers blue line due to his seemingly complete collapses at time on the ice. Benning's passing has never been the cleanest and when pressured in the Oilers defensive zone he has shown a tendency to panic at times and create some bad turnovers. It's largely the optics of those turnovers that have resulted in him becoming one of the most routinely criticized players in the Oilers line up. Additionally his skating has been poor by the standards of defensemen his size and the role that he has been placed in by the Oilers was also likely too much for the young blue liner this season.
Benning was effectively thrust into a top 4 type of role this season when in reality he should likely be utilized more as a number 6 or even number 7 defenseman in your line up. This is a point that many Benning defenders have made and they have pointed to both the coaching staff and management for misusing what is still a young and inconsistent defenseman. Hopefully that use has not shattered his confidence and Benning will continue to develop into a quality defenseman over the term of his new deal.