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.