Matt Benning has chance to step up on Edmonton Oilers blue-line

Oilers Matt Benning talks about heightened expectations from him this year
WATCH ABOVE: Oilers defenceman Matt Benning played his first season in the NHL in 2016-17. On the first day of training camp, he spoke to reporters about what's expected of him this year.

One year ago, Matt Benning was a relative unknown. Now, he’s a good bet to be one of the Edmonton Oilers‘ top four defencemen when the NHL regular season starts on Oct. 4.

“I think it depends on how everyone performs in training camp,” Benning said after Friday’s on-ice session, the first of training camp. “It’ll be increased minutes if I do earn that role.”

With Andrej Sekera out with a knee injury for at least the first third of the season, there’s a spot on the Oilers’ second pairing available. Benning had that spot on Friday, skating alongside Kris Russell, who served as a mentor to Benning last season.


READ MORE: Edmonton Oiler Kris Russell ready to deliver

“He’s a guy I’ve always looked up to and for advice,” Benning said. “It’s exciting.

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“He’s a great hockey mind and he defends really well.”

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“He’s a smart player. Communication is a big thing on any defensive pair,” Russell added. “There’s always going to some learning curve, but with two players that move the puck well [and] have good mobility, I don’t see it being too much of a problem.”

As for the forward lines, the top lines looked like this on Friday:

  • Maroon – McDavid – Strome
  • Lucic – Draisaitl – Caggiula
  • Jokinen – Nugent-Hopkins – Puljujarvi
  • Khaira – Letestu – Kassian

Friday marked Ryan Strome’s first official on-ice session as an Oiler. He said head coach Todd McLellan spoke to him before practice about increasing his shot totals.

READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers seek to make Strome a shooter

Watch below: The Edmonton Oilers split players into three groups for Day 1 of training camp on Friday. Kevin Karius has more.

Oilers split into groups for Day 1 of training camp
Oilers split into groups for Day 1 of training camp

“He showed some great numbers and some great stats that I wasn’t really aware of,” Strome explained. “I think I’ve always been a passer. Definitely in pro hockey that’s one of the things I’ve learned is just shooting the puck more. Not only to score, but with how good goalies are, you have to get pucks there to get other guys goals.”

Strome had 114 shots in 69 games last year with the New York Islanders.

The Oilers will be back on the ice Saturday morning for practices and a scrimmage.

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Watch below: In 2017, the Edmonton Oilers made the playoffs for the first time in years with superstar captain Connor McDavid leading the way. On Friday, the team took to the ice for Day 1 of training camp ahead of a new NHL season in which many people are expecting great things from the hockey team.

Sights and sounds from Day 1 of Edmonton Oilers training camp
Sights and sounds from Day 1 of Edmonton Oilers training camp