Bruins pick Benning trying to live up to family legacy

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Bruins pick Benning trying to live up to family legacy

PITTSBURGH The Bruins kept it in the family with their sixth-round pick, taking assistant general manager Jim Bennings nephew, Matt, a big defenseman with the 175th overall selection.

Benning is an interesting story in that hes also the son of longtime NHL veteran Bryan Benning, but the 18-year-old wasnt always sure if he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his hockey-playing relatives.

But Bruins scouting director Wayne Smith assured that Benning has become fully committed in the last couple of years, and provides the kind of size, strength and nastiness that Boston always needs along their rear-guard. The younger Benning said he was phoned by his overjoyed uncle on Saturday when hed been chosen by the Bruins, and was in the middle of studying for his math final exams.

No doubt the books were put down for a little while, and Benning envisioned what it might be like playing in a Bruins uniform.

With my uncle obviously playing in the NHL and my dad playing in the NHL too theres a bit of pressure, admitted Benning. But they support me in whatever I do and hopefully one day I can pursue my dream of playing in the NHL just like they did.

Smith said that Benning has a little bit of a nasty streak at 6-feet tall and 218 pounds, but he's still a bit raw around the edges as he enters into a season with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL.

He plans to play college hockey following a year at the major junior level in the US, and has no illusions about his game. Its high on the defensive end and the physicality scale, and modestly improving on the offensive side of things.

Hes toured the TD Garden and the Bruins practice facilities as a guest of Uncle Jim, but he knows next week hell be there on business as part of the teams development camp.

I think Im more of a stay-at-home 'D'-man, kind of like a Matt Green. Just kind of like rough and tough, stay at home, and just hard to play against kind of 'D', said Benning. So over the summer Im going to try to work on my foot speed some more and my skating and hopefully I can improve.

Given the NHL bloodlines its a fair bet that Benning is going to improve now that hes committed to a hockey career, and there couldnt be a more perfect fit for his development than his uncle Jims Bruins.

Wednesday, May 25: Are you #TeamHaggs or #TeamFrich?

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Wednesday, May 25: Are you #TeamHaggs or #TeamFrich?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wrapping my brain around exactly what the heck the Bruins are doing.

-- In the shameless self-promotion department: Fred Toucher and yours truly did battle this morning over the $10 million contract that the Bruins handed out to Kevan Miller. Are you #TeamHaggs or #TeamFrich?

-- What do the Dallas Stars need in the 2016 NHL Draft, with the combine and draft both coming up just weeks away.

-- A nice tribute from Hockey Night in Canada to the Tragically Hip as their front man battles through terminal brain cancer.

-- Damien Cox puts together his Team Canada list for the World Cup of hockey. Check out Brad Marchand's line: He plays left wing with Jonathan Toews and Tyler Seguin. That would be very fun to watch.

-- With the Bruins signing Kevan Miller to a bloated four-year, $10 million contract, similar defensemen like Eric Gryba will be lining up at the trough.

-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz weighs in on the Sharks run to within one win of the Stanley Cup Final, and what a player like Joe Pavelski has meant to them in the postseason.

-- For something completely different: It sounds like things are getting a little strange with Marco Rubio.

Haggs and Fred Toucher debate signing of Kevan Miller

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Haggs and Fred Toucher debate signing of Kevan Miller

Fred Toucher and Joe Haggerty disagree about the new deal the Boston Bruins gave Kevan Miller and got in a heated debate Wednesday morning on Toucher & Rich.

Haggerty says the Bruins would be better off with "players on entry level deals" over Miller for the money he'll received.

Miller signed a four-year deal worth $10 million on Monday.

As for Toucher? Watch the video above for his response. Then comment below with your thoughts on the deal.

Felger: Bottom's always up with Bruins

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Felger: Bottom's always up with Bruins

Peter Chiarelli may be long gone from Causeway Street, but his spirit lives on. 

If someone can explain to me the Bruins' fascination with bottom-of-the-roster veterans with average talent, then I'd love to hear it. I used to think it was the problem of Chiarelli, the B's former general manager. But now I have to wonder if it's just in the water down there. And current GM Don Sweeney is chugging it.

I have no other explanation for the team's decision to sign defenseman Kevan Miller to a four-year (four!) extension worth $10 million yesterday. Miller is a nice role piece. But how that translates to four guaranteed years when he will turn 29 early next season and the Bruins have massive holes throughout their roster is beyond me. 

What's more, the B's already have nearly the identical player in Adam McQuaid, who is roughly the same age, same size, same shot (right), same injury history (poor) and plays the same role (bottom pairing, right side). McQuaid is a little less skilled than Miller, so of course, using Bruins logic, he makes a little more ($2.75 million). But McQuaid also got four years when he re-signed prior to last season.

Certainly, contracts worth $2-3 million annually aren't going to ruin your cap in a vacuum. But start adding them up you see how the Bruins got into trouble in the first place. Combine McQuaid and Miller's hits and you have $5.25 million of valuable space chewed up against the cap. Basically, that's the price of a solid, top-4 defenseman, which the Bruins need ten times more than a depth piece.

Scary. The Bruins currently don't have a No. 1 or a No. 2 defensemen. (Sorry, Bruins writers, Zdeno Chara belongs on a second pairing right now.) Yet they have decided to lock themselves up with a pair of No. 6 guys who basically duplicate each other. Again, why do the B's continue to overpay the bottom of the depth chart when the top is so lousy?

It's one thing for Chiarelli to overcommit to the likes of Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley, Dan Paille, Greg Campbell, Dennis Seidenberg, etc. Those guys at least helped you win a Cup and get to another final. From an emotional standpoint, you can explain those mistakes. But Miller? He's been a part of one of the worst defense corps in the league the last few years. He's been on a team that has failed to make the playoffs two consecutive seasons. How do you fall in love with that guy?

Please don't tell me that Miller would have gotten that contract on the open market. I mean, it's true; he probably would have. But what does that matter? Does that mean it's a good deal? Just because Colorado was willing to pay Carl Soderberg just under $5 million a season, does that mean the B's should have paid the middling centerman that money last year? Of course not. Use your head. Just because someone else gets stupid doesn't mean you have to.

You shudder to think what's coming next. Loui Eriksson is still out there as a pending free agent. Ditto for Torey Krug. On a good team, the former is a third liner and the latter is another third-pairing guy. Neither have been good enough to lift the B's above the playoff line the last two years despite playing prominent roles. Both are about to get overpaid on the market . . . unless the B's step in first and insist on being the team that gets stupid and overcommits first.

Given what we've seen with Miller, how can anyone be confident that the B's will be smart enough to pass? My confidence level on this is somewhere around 0.0.

Which is exactly how much cap space the B's will have left with this approach.

Email Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 FM. The simulcast runs daily on CSN.