Calgary Flames

Matt Benning can be a solid deadline add if the Calgary Flames trade for defensive depth

As of February 7, 2023, the Calgary Flames are carrying a 22-man roster with $5,598,175 in projected accrued deadline cap space. With 31 games remaining and the slim chance that Oliver Kylington returns for the remainder of this year, depth defence at an affordable cost should be on Brad Treliving’s shopping list come March 3. After all, this is an area of acquisition he’s historically been no stranger to around this time.

A solid non-rental candidate—should he be available—that could improve the Flames’ backend is San Jose Sharks defenceman Matt Benning. Benning is 28 years old and standing at 6’1″ and 203 lbs. Through 50 games played thus far this season, he’s notched a goal and 20 assists for a total of 21 points. Most importantly, Benning carries a cap hit of $1,250,000 until 2026.

Why the Flames should shortlist Matt Benning

  • Firstly, the Sharks have already begun setting the depth defender market come deadline day, kickstarting it all by telling the league they aren’t afraid to sell guys with term.
  • Brad Treliving has always vocally reiterated his unwillingness to spend big on rental players. Benning would be coming in at a safe and valued cost-controlled number, not just for the remainder of this season, but for three more. It’s a pretty valuable point to express, especially when you consider the only defencemen currently on the Flames’ books after 2024 includes just MacKenzie Weegar and Rasmus Andersson.
  • Benning is defensively reliable and utilizes his big frame. He’s already the on-brand type of player who’d likely more than excel playing Sutter hockey.
  • He’s a right-handed shot.
  • He’s still able to generate somewhat offensively, despite that area of his game not being known as a standout strength. A 0.42 point-per-game rate as a defender averaging close to 20 minutes a night is definitely worth considering.
  • He’s an Alberta boy.
  • Lastly, he is in the midst of his prime and his defensive game has only started to trend upwards over the past three seasons (check out his updated JFresh card below)

Prying away a reasonable defender out of the Sharks’ jaws

Matt Benning would just make all the sense in the world for the Flames right now, assuming the Sharks continue being keen on shopping some of their guys carrying term. I can’t imagine San Jose’s ask to be any greater than a 2024 third-round pick, which is a price the Flames would likely be more than willing to spend to add some more depth to their backend. They’ve also historically paid that price around this time, while being around the same positional fringe playoff outlook. The club hasn’t historically hesitated in years prior to address their defensive needs, although Erik Gustafsson was also a pure rental. Adding Benning now would mean he’d be here to stay.

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