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BLOG: Benning's expectations and role could increase in 2017-18

Sophomore could pair up with Kris Russell to begin the season

by Paul Gazzola /

Group A at Oilers Training Camp featured defencemen Kris Russell and Matt Benning, a blueline pairing that the team could ice to begin the season given the injury to Andrej Sekera.

Video: RAW | Benning on Camp Day 2

Russell and Benning defended together briefly during the first skate of Oilers Training Camp.

"He's a guy that I've always looked up to for advice and stuff like that," Benning, who posted three goals and 12 assists in the 62 games he played during his rookie season, said. "He's a great hockey mind and he defends really well so if I do get that opportunity, it would be great."

There's added expectations for Benning going into his sophomore season. The 23-year-old showed he belongs in the National Hockey League last season and accrued some playoff experience, which should go a long way in realizing his potential in 2017-18.

"It's high," said Russell regarding Benning's ceiling. "I think we have some good, young defensive guys - just look at Nursy (Darnell Nurse) and Benny. They took steps last year and they look great at the start of camp so far.

"Look for those guys to contribute more often."

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