Jets Get Penalty Killing & Defensive Depth With Benn

Another NHL trade deadline day passed, and the Winnipeg Jets were very quiet with their plan of attack. The squad made one trade, adding defenseman Jordie Benn from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a 2021 sixth-round draft pick. The veteran defender had one goal and eight assists in 31 games for the Canucks this season. He is in the final year of his $2 million per year deal and will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Although the team potentially went after some bigger names, this is a great move for a playoff team.

This article takes a look at the move for the Jets and how it impacts them going in to a hopeful playoff run with their already elite squad.

Depth on Defence

Benn was not acquired by Kevin Cheveldayoff to go out on the ice and play top minutes on the Jets’ defence core. Depending on where coach Paul Maurice sees fit, he should be playing as the sixth, seventh, or even eighth defenceman for the Jets. As the deadline got closer and closer, Cheveldayoff decided that depth was an important factor heading into the playoffs.

In previous years, the Jets have acquired other depth defensemen such as Nathan Beaulieu and Dylan DeMelo for later-round draft picks as well. It seemed to go well for them, as both of those players soon became regulars for the team. With the season-long injury to Beaulieu, it was important for the team to “replace” him with a similar style player.

Benn is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound player who can hit and fight when needed to. As a team goes deeper and deeper into the playoffs, a player like him may be needed because of his experience and physical play to wear down opponents.

Penalty Kill Help

The Jets’ penalty kill has not been bad this season, but it could use some help to become more successful. Analytically, Benn is a penalty kill specialist. He has his stick in the right place and is not afraid to block a shot when necessary. He is a true team player. With a middle-of-the-pack penalty kill percentage, he should fit perfectly on the team’s back end.

In my opinion, the defence pairings on the penalty kill should consist of Josh Morrissey with DeMelo and Benn with Derek Forbort. This would give the team two great pairs of defensemen who can all kill penalties at an elite level. It also gives the Jets the option to potentially not play Benn too much at even strength and save his energy when it is needed in shorthanded situations.

Jets Now Have Options

This was a brilliant move by the Jets because it gives them options on potential pairings for the rest of the season. It may be a bit of an experiment on defence for the remainder of the regular season, but it will be perfect by the time playoffs come around.

The players who are guaranteed a regular spot are Morrissey, Neal Pionk, and Forbort. The signing of Forbort in the offseason has been a great addition for the Jets so far. This gives Maurice the option to play around with DeMelo, Benn, Tucker Poolman, Logan Stanley, and Ville Heinola. In a perfect situation, DeMelo, Stanley and Heinola draw into the lineup, but that may not be the best option.

Logan Stanley Winnipeg Jets
Logan Stanley, Winnipeg Jets (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

I do no see Stanley drawing out of the lineup anytime soon solely based on his physical presence and fear he brings upon other teams. I also believe that DeMelo will stay in the lineup because he is a great penalty killer and can eat minutes when he needs to. This leaves Benn, Poolman, and Heinola to fill the last spot. Overall, this should not be an issue for the team because they can rotate these three men in and out of the lineup until they find a spot that fits or based on the health status.

Getting Out of the North

Getting out of the North Division is going to be a challenge because of teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Edmonton Oilers. Both of those teams have a high power offence that needs to be slowed down to be able to beat them in the playoffs. Depth on defence with the addition of Benn with help tremendously and should help surrender fewer goals against and give Connor Hellebuyck an easier time in net.

North Division NHL Scotia 2021

I do believe that the Jets have what it takes to come out of the North and just need some steady defence and goaltending to do so. The addition of Benn was a much-needed security blanket just in case there are some unexpected injuries that arise.

What do you guys think of the addition of Benn? Do you believe that the Jets should have done more? Was there someone else you had in mind? Have they done enough to be a strong contender for the Stanley Cup? Let me know in the comments!


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