The Edmonton Oilers lost a 2-1 hockey game against Carolina Friday, but they lost one of their best defenders this season.
Matthew Benning did not return to action after colliding with Viktor Stalberg in the first period. The collision resulted in a hit to the head, and Benning went off and never came back. His injury, let alone the severity, is unclear.
However, with a three-game slide to start the unofficial second half of the season, this is not good news for the Oilers. Benning has become a reliable right-hand defenseman who can also move the puck and be trusted. By the same token, he could absolutely develop into a quality top-four defenceman.
While there’s nothing on the injury now, let’s hope that it isn’t serious and that Benning returns soon. Mainly because when it comes to depth on the right-handed chart, Eric Gryba is next in line. While the 6-foot-4, 228 pound blueliner packs physicality into his game, he is not as effective as Benning. He struggles defensively, and turns over the puck.
As per “Edmonton Journal” writer Kurt Leavins, the Oilers could make a recall given the early start Sunday.
Jordan Oesterle and Mark Fayne are likely the next call-up options (who are both a long way from Benning). While Griffin Reinhart could see the light with his improved play, it’s doubtful that the Oilers will give him a chance.
We will have more Benning updates as they develop, but right now, it appears he has an undisclosed upper-body injury.