Forward Matt Benning has signed with the Nashville Predators. The 26-year-old skater has agreed to a two-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $1 million. Elliotte Friedman announced the move Friday afternoon.
Hearing Matt Benning to NASH, 2x$1M
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 9, 2020
Predators Sign Matt Benning
Benning was a depth defender for the Edmonton Oilers for the past few seasons including 2019-20. In the most recent year, he scored just one goal and eight points in 43 games but was given credit for 78 hits and 34 blocks. His possession numbers stayed roughly even; his Corsi For fell from 48.5 percent in 2018-19 to 48.0 percent. Edmonton has reinforced its blueline in recent seasons which has caused Benning’s ice time and production to drop as well. His average of 13:14 was the lowest in his four NHL seasons.
The Boston Bruins originally selected Benning in the sixth round of the 2012 Draft but did not sign him before their control over his draft rights expired. The Oilers signed him after he completed his time at Northeastern University where he posted nine goals, 56 points, and 101 penalty minutes in 110 games. Benning is not an offensive force with only 15 goals and 61 points in 248 NHL games but he does have over 400 hits and 200 blocks over that span. He is a perfectly average bottom-pairing defender based on his current production.
What This Means for the Future
This signing doesn’t mean much for the Predators. Nashville’s blueline is already packed and they just added veteran Mark Borowiecki to bolster its checking prowess further. Benning will not be a major factor given the team’s overall defensive depth but he is a reasonable addition just the same.
Nashville has just over $14.67 million in remaining cap space. Luke Kunin is the only restricted free agent remaining. The team acquired Kunin from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Nick Bonino earlier this week. The Predators could be major offseason players with the amount of money they have left. The Borowiecki and Benning signings do very little to prevent additional moves.