Should the Montreal Canadiens Re-sign Jordie Benn?
The Jordie Benn acquisition was perhaps GM Marc Bergevin’s best acquisition of the 2017 trade deadline (which isn’t saying much). He has been a solid, stay-at-home third-pairing defenseman who can rifle a slapshot every once in a while. He becomes a UFA this offseason. Should the Canadiens re-sign him?
Jordie Benn is on an expiring three-year deal worth $3.3 million, with an AAV of $1.1 million. He is most likely due for a small raise, if any. He is 31 years old, so a long contract is out of the question. I’m no player agent, but I would consider a four-year deal in the $7 million neighbourhood to be reasonable. The question is: is it worth it?
Benn is Claude Julien’s dream player. He is solid defensively, kills penalties, and is hard-hitting and hardworking. His Corsi percentage/60 minutes is -5.4%, which isn’t bad for a bottom-pairing defenseman. But we can’t just look at the stats. From what I’ve seen, Benn can block shots, stop odd-man rushes, and occasionally start a breakout. He would be on an affordable deal, and with the amount of cap space the Canadiens have, it makes sense to sign him.
Now here’s the other side of the story. Benn is not a fast skater. In an NHL that is getting faster and faster, Benn is part of that dying breed of slow, big, heavy-hitting defensemen. The new-look defenseman is a fast skater, a puck-mover, and can score off the rush. We recently saw a defenseman, Miro Heiskanen, participate in the fastest skater event at the All-Star game. And at the All-Star game before that, Noah Hanifin participated in the fastest skater event. You get the point. Benn is not that kind of player. He may find himself out-skated by opponents, and he may be unable to catch up to them and defend against them. Another issue with re-signing Benn is that he may find his spot usurped by younger, faster right-shot defensemen Josh Brook or Cale Fleury. Why re-sign him if he could be cut at training camp in September? That would reflect badly on Bergevin, who has already made some abysmal signings on defensemen (ahem: Karl Alzner).
In my humble opinion, I think the Canadiens should re-sign Benn. Not on a particularly long deal, but 3-year deal or something similar. In reality, Josh Brook and Cale Fleury are probably not ready to contend for an NHL roster spot, so if Benn leaves, who will replace him? Noah Juulsen? He’s a good, young, puck-moving defender, but I think Benn is more valuable to the team right now. They already have a puck-mover on the bottom pairing in Kulak, or potentially Mete if the Canadiens go after a left-shot defenseman in a trade, and Mete gets bumped to the third pairing. It is in the Canadiens’ best interest to resign Jordie Benn. Go Habs go.
Signed, Le Bo