The Florida Panthers have signed former Northern Alberta Xtreme (NAX) defenseman Mike Benning to an NHL Entry Level Contract.
Benning spent the 2018/17 season in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) with the NAX U16 Prep team. In 29 games Benning would lead all CSSHL defensemen with 49 points, capturing the CSSHL U16 Prep Top Defenseman Award. He would add three points in four playoff games, helping NAX capture the 2018 CSSHL U16 Prep Western Championships.
In 2018/19 Benning would make the jump to the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) with the Sherwood Park Crusaders. That season Benning would tally 10 goals, 51 assists and 61 points, best amongst AJHL defensemen. That season Benning would earn AJHL (North) All-Rookie Team honours. The following season the St. Albert, AB product would top his own previous bests, leading all AJHL defensemen with 75 points in 54 games. Benning would be named to the AJHL (North) All-Star Team ad well as capture AJHL and CJHL Top Defensemen honours.
Following his successful AJHL campaign the Panthers would select Benning in the fourth round, 95th overall at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
In 2020/21 Benning joined University of Denver in the NCAA. He would finish his freshman season with 11 points. Benning’s sophomore season would see him lead Denver defensemen with 38 points in 41 games while capturing individual accolades including NCAA (NCHC) and NCAA (All-USCHO) Second All-Star Team. To top it off Benning was named to the NCAA (Championship) All-Tournament Team and the NCAA (Championship) MVP as he helped the University of Denver capture an NCAA Championship.
This past season Benning was named an NCAA (West) Second All-American Team, recording 34 points in 39 games with Denver.