Dallas Stars: Can Jamie Benn Become This Year's Claude Giroux?
Coming off the summer of 2012, the Dallas Stars were clear-cut winners in the free-agent market, signing a pair of forwards in the form of elite playmaker Ray Whitney, and the legendary Jaromir Jagr.
With an exceptional goaltender in Kari Lehtonen and a well-rounded defense, that includes Alex Gologoski, the Stars revamped their offense this summer.
Not only did they add the two veterans in Jagr and Whitney, but they traded for Buffalo's Derek Roy, a great second-line center that brings a lot more scoring than longtime Star (now Sabre) Steve Ott ever could.
With the emergence of Jamie Benn as one of the NHL's next star players, center Mike Ribeiro became expendable and was shipped to Washington in exchange for promising young checking center Cody Eakin who figures to find a home in the Dallas bottom six next season.
Like Giroux, Benn has steadily become a better and better player in the NHL, increasing his point totals at a very nice pace his first three years in the league.
Drafted in 2007 by the Stars in the fifth round, Benn is what you would call a draft-day steal. It's extremely rare that a team is able to pull a player out of the later rounds and have them become top-line players within a few years.
During his rookie season in 2009, Benn was able to post 22 goals and 19 assists while only being tagged with a minus one plus/minus rating on a rather poor Stars team. The next year the Vancouver native was able to put up 56 points despite missing 13 games.
Finally, after only being in the league for three years, Benn had a career season which saw him put up 26 goals and 37 assists for 63 points, finishing with his first ever positive plus/minus rating, taking more shots on goal than ever before and ending the season with seven game winners.
Since the opening day roster for Dallas isn't set in stone with the non-serious injury of Derek Roy, Dallas' top-two lines can't really be predicted on day one.
That's not bad news for Benn though.
The center has his pick of the litter to choose from on his wings. Captain Brendan Morrow, Jaromir Jagr, Ray Whitney, Michael Ryder and one of the NHL's absolute best in Loui Eriksson are all ready and willing to help Benn put up huge numbers.
Not only should we see a vast improvement in Benn's play and numbers, but like Giroux, the team is now being handed to their young center; and the goal is to not only make the playoffs but to make an impression the entire league will notice.
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