Jamie Benn #14 LW
- 21 years old. Will be entering his third season of NHL play next year.
- 1 year left on his contract. Restricted free agent in the 2012-2013 season.
- Will make $821,667 next season.
After watching the Stars this season, it's become obvious that the future of this team will rest on the shoulders of Jamie Benn. The 21-year-old was drafted two years ago in the 5th round of the NHL draft, and quickly became one of the best prospects in the organization.
He had a solid debut season last year, playing all 82 games and tallying 22 goals along with 19 assists. Benn was well on his way to shattering both of those point marks this year and would have certainly done so if he had not had an injury at the beginning of February. Despite missing 13 games, Benn still tied his previous high of 22 goals and had 34 assists this season.
Benn started a season a bit slow, getting points in only three of the first seven games. Once November rolled around, Benn got into a groove and took off. He was playing at nearly a point-a-game pace and was one of the main focal points of the offense. Benn was a certainty to get double-digit points each month from then on.
When Benn suffered an injury in the final game of January, the Stars' season changed for the worse. Benn went on to miss 10 games after his injury and the Stars went on to lose eight of those ten games. They plummeted down the standings and suddenly found themselves fighting for a playoff spot.
When Benn went down, the Stars still had Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro, Brad Richards, Loui Eriksson and James Neal on the ice. That would seemingly be enough to keep the Stars afloat, but through a combination of bad defense, a sputtering offense (they scored more than two goals in only two of those ten games), an injury to Brad Richards and a total disappointment from James Neal, the Stars could do absolutely nothing to keep the team in the win column.
Neal, who managed only two points in that 10 game Benn-less stretch, found himself traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins the game before Benn returned to the team. This further solidified the fact that Benn was THE face of the future of the team and that Dallas had the utmost confidence that he would prove himself worthy.
Following his return to the team on February 22, Benn received more ice time and looked like a man possessed. Dallas won five of the next seven games and Benn had stretch where he had a point in ten straight games and scored a goal in eight out of nine games. This included one game against the Coyotes where he scored the game winner with five seconds left and another game against the Kings where he scored a shorthanded game-tying goal in the third period.
His final tallies for the month of March included nine goals and seven assists. He did everything he could to keep the team afloat but, it was just unfortunate that the team couldn't muster enough defense and offense from other players to keep the Stars in the playoff race.
Benn's game continues to grow and it will be interesting to see how he does next year now that he has become one of the best playmakers on the team and defenses will be keying on him even more. If he can continue to grow and play better than he did this season, he'll be a shoo-in for the All-Star game soon enough.
- +/-: Plus/Minus Ratings
- PIM: Penalty Minutes
- SOG: Shots on Goal
- PPG: Power-Play Goals
- PPA: Power-Play Assists
- SHG: Short-Handed Goals
- TOI/G: Time on Ice per Game