Jamie Benn, drafted by the Dallas Stars in the 5th round of the 2007 NHL Draft, has played three seasons with the Stars and made the rare jump directly from the WHL to the NHL his rookie season. With 63 points in 71 games in 2011-12, Benn established himself as one of the more formidable power forwards in the NHL and has become the cornerstone for this franchise for years to come.
Why He's On The List:
The decision to include Jamie Benn (and where) on the list of the Top 20 Dallas Stars players of all time was not an easy one. There were some of us who felt that just three seasons of production wasn't enough to warrant a spot on such a prestigious list, despite the incredible potential that Benn has shown in just a short time in Dallas. Yet this is the "Top 20 Dallas Stars Players Of All Time," which encompasses the full 20 years the team has been Dallas -- not just the first 15 or so.
More after the jump...
When we think back to what has defined this team over the past three years of transition for this organization, Jamie Benn sits at the heart of what this team has already accomplished and the potential this team possesses for the future. Benn is also the face of change for this franchise, the heir apparent to a wealth of all-time great NHL players that stayed in Dallas for so long and established such incredible legacies here.
Bursting onto the scene as a NHL rookie in 2009 and playing on a line with Mike Modano for much of that year, no one could have predicted at the time that Benn would be taking the torch from his linemate as the future face of this franchise.
Benn was drafted out of the BCHL in 2007, a goal-scoring phenom who reportedly didn't have enough size or skating ability to be a legit prospect in the NHL. Benn had also had to make the choice between baseball and hockey, as he reportedly had been told he had a much bigger future on the diamond rather than on the ice -- another factor that could have led to his being overlooked by the majority of the NHL.
Yet the Stars found a gem in Western Canada, as we've seen them very capable of over the past few years, as Benn grew from a goal-scorer's dream to an all-around great player and leader on a promising young team. It was only when Benn was leading the Kelowna Rockets to a surprising run at the Memorial Cup in the spring of 2009 that the rest of the hockey world began to take notice, especially after he put up 13 goals and 33 points in 19 playoff games that spring.
Since coming to the Stars, Benn has matured and progressed as a hockey player faster than anyone could have predicted. While the mind-numbing numbers are there yet he already started down the path to becoming a superstar in the NHL, a player that those who truly know this sport tout as potentially the next great power forward of this generation and someone who does so much more than what the basic statistics tell you.
What has been striking about Benn is how he does all of this so quietly and without any outward worry or opinion; if asked to play on the fourth line with scrubs he'd go about his job with professionalism and wary a complaint to the media. This past season, when the Stars were desperately attempting to find a way to get the Mike Ribeiro line scoring, Benn was forced to take on a much more significant defensive role than he'd previously been asked to fill and he did so with flying colors. His performance for the 2011-12 season has many saying he was the top even-strength player in the NHL when you factor in his overall performance against the level of competition he regularly faced -- along with who was playing on his lines.
Benn has also made the tough transition from a goal-scoring winger to the team's number one option at center -- the player the Stars have made it clear this team will be built around. His importance to this franchise, both over the past three years and moving forward, cannot be discounted when weighing him against the accomplishments of those that came before him.
Benn has also helped ease the transition when the team said goodbye to Mike Modano, as he's become the most electrifying and exciting player this team has produced in over a decade. While Loui Eriksson will likely always be the better all-around player, Benn is who the kids love and look up to and Benn is who will be on Sportscenter and NHL Tonight with his dazzling goals and penchant for big hits.
It has been just three short years since Jamie Benn made his debut for the Dallas Stars and in that time he's already provided us with a wealth of highlights and the promise for a much better future for this organization. That's reason enough he should be included on this list, the Top 20 Dallas Stars players of all time.