Here is an article I wrote on the deal from Swift Current Online. You can hear the full interviews if you scroll down to the blog post I put up last night…
It will be a surreal night in Swift Current as two recently traded players suit up for their new teams for the first time, in a game against their old teams.
The Broncos dealt defenceman Graeme Craig to Saskatoon Thursday for forward Brent Benson. The two teams go toe-to-toe Friday night.
“It’s going to be weird,” Benson said. “I played with some of those guys all my career. I don’t know how it’s going to go.”
The Weyburn product was caught off guard by the deal.
“It definitely came as a shock to me,” Benson noted. “We were off to a rough start in Saskatoon so I knew they were looking to shake things up. I had no indication it would be me, but turns out it was.”
“Now that I’m settled in here I’m excited to meet some new guys and get going with the Broncos.”
Despite being sick and missing a game earlier this week, Benson practiced with his new team on Thursday. His style should be a fit with the Broncos.
“Always a hard working team, tough to play against and gritty,” Benson said. “That’s the kind of hockey I like to play. A couple of guys that I’ve known from previous hockey experiences kind of ease the transition. I grew up playing hockey with Graham Black my whole life, I attended Notre Dame with Daniel Dale, I met Dalton Reum at hockey camp and then (Levi) Bews was traded from Saskatoon. It just makes it that much easier having someone to talk to, show the ropes when you get there.”
Benson has put up 103 points over 206 WHL games. He joined Saskatoon as a 16-year-old after being drafted 6th overall in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft. Benson scored 80 goals and had 76 assists in 52 Bantam AA games, before putting up 52 points in 39 Midget AAA games with Notre Dame. The Hounds won the Telus Cup as national champions that season.
“We’ve played against him a lot of times in the last three years so we know… how he competes,” said Broncos Coach/GM Mark Lamb. “I know that he’s very versatile. He can play left wing, he can play centre, he’s very good on faceoffs, he’s a strong penalty killer… what we don’t think that’s he’s really done is his offensive numbers for the talent that he does have. Just seeing him in practice, the pure skill and the hands that he has, we think he can put up better numbers. I don’t think he’s reached his full potential yet.”
The Broncos had been planning to add a top forward to their group for several weeks. They were looking for a 1994 or 1993 born forward that had experience and could play in their top two lines.
“We like what Craig has done here the last three years, we like how he has developed,” Lamb said. “But we felt this was a trade we had to make.”
Craig is in his fourth WHL season and has played 200 WHL games. He brings a 6’5”, 215lbs frame to the Blades and a solid defensive game. The Red Deer native started his WHL career with Adam Lowry and Reece Scarlett as 16-year-olds.
“It’s tough saying goodbye to someone you’ve kind of grown up with,” Lowry said. “We were the last guys from the team when I was 16. He’s a big guy in our dressing room, not only a good player on the ice but a pretty good friend of mine as well.”
“With that being said, we welcome Brent. I think he’s going to be a key part to our team.”
The Broncos are comfortable they still have a strong group on the blue line after the deal, but with only six defencemen on the roster Lamb knows they have to make an addition at some point.
“Hopefully there are no injuries and hopefully (Bobby) Zinkan can come in and get up to speed,” Lamb said. “We’re not going to jump into something that isn’t going to benefit us now and into the future.”
Lamb noted the trade had nothing to do with rookie forward Dakota Odgers going back to Midget AAA and wasn’t remotely a reaction to their disappointing loss to Everett on Wednesday. The Broncos would have made the deal either way. While Swift Current is hoping Benson can find even more of an offensive game than he has so far, they are happy with adding him even if he just continues to play at the same level.
“He’s played really well for Saskatoon,” Lamb said. “He’s always noticeable when we played against him because of his compete level… I know this was a very tough deal for both of us to make… I think it’s a good fit for both teams. One thing that we don’t have on our team is playoff experience. I think that’s very valuable. We’re a young team that needs some leadership. We have a strong leadership core and he’s going to add to it.”
Benson had been an alternate captain in Saskatoon before the trade.
Adding Benson gives the Broncos the option to tinker with their lines and possibly move Lowry back to left wing. Lamb hinted either Benson or Black could centre Lowry if they decide to try change things up. Benson is looking forward to that fresh start.
“Change of scenery never hurts,” Benson said. “Just to shake something up. Hopefully it will benefit me.”
Benson and the Broncos take on Craig and the Blades at 7:05pm on Friday night at the Credit Union iPlex. You can listen to the game live with The New Pioneer Co-op Home Centre Broncos Hockey on The Eagle 94.1 FM at 6:30pm.
- Click here for the original story on the trade
- Click here for a story from the Star Phoenix on Benson and Duncan Siemens
- Click here for a video interview with a 16-year-old Benson
Just a quick note from Midget AAA last night as Broncos prospect Jordan Wittman had a goal and an assist in a 5-2 Swift Current loss to Regina. Wittman has 10 points in his last 4 games!
I’ll talk to you again tonight for the Blades/Broncos broadcast.