Oilers Sign Free Agent Defenseman Matthew Benning

The Edmonton Oilers have signed free agent defenseman Matthew Benning out of Northeastern University, the team announced Saturday.

There had been specualtion about the possibility of Benning joining the Oilers recently, as he did not get a contract in place with the Boston Bruins, who drafted him in the sixth round of the 2012 draft.

Benning is an Edmonton native with a lot of hockey in the family. His father Brian Benning had a short stint with the Oilers and his uncle is Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning.

Benning might not hit the club NHL-ready, but he’s a right-shot defender who is a capable puck mover and created a little offense during his three years at Northeastern. He put up 24 assists in 36 games during his sophomore season, and, last season, posted six goals and 19 points in 41 games.

While it’s not a game-changing move, general manager Peter Chiarelli is using the resources available to improve a chronic weak spot for the Oilers. It gives them another lottery ball on defense that could wind up being a winner. It’s also not quite a blind shot in the dark. Chiarelli is quite familiar with Benning, having been a part of the Bruins organization at the time they drafted the defender.