Only two more days until the home opener, and Jamie Benn still has not set foot on the ice with the rest of the team. Unfortunately that's the way things go in RFA negotiations like this. Especially given Benn's unique situation of being seen as the centerpiece of this team moving forward. These contract negotiations may be frustrating, but they are unfortunately just a part of the business side of hockey.
But what will the new contact look like when it is all said and done? Bob Sturm breaks down the two likeliest options of either a 4 year or a 6 year deal.
Benn is 23 and has played 3 years in the NHL, and therefore has 4 seasons left committed to the league pay-scale before he will taste the freedom of unrestricted free agency.
So, if he would like the 6 year plan, then he wouldn't become "free" again until he was 29. And, 27 year olds do break the bank more than 29 year olds if we want to assume he is looking to be the belle of his ball when he becomes free (which would make him a normal player after seeing Ryan Suter and Zach Parise this summer).
So, what is the Benn side looking for? That appears to be the subject of some level of speculation for all involved. Efforts to speak directly with Benn's agent, Richard Evans, have not been successful, but the process has allowed for certain conclusions to be reached.
Either they want a shorter deal to get to free agency on July 1, 2016, or they want enough annual cash to be willing to wait on free agency.
And that is where the Stars have to decide how to deal with this. If Benn wants shorter term, then he needs to be willing to take shorter term money. For instance, Matt Duchene in Colorado signed one of those smaller 2/$7m "bridge contracts" that help a player move up from Entry level money without sacrificing much on arbitration or the substantial cash unrestricted free agency could bring.
It is likely going to take far more money to lock Benn down for longer term than it would otherwise -- if he is even willing to accept a deal over 4 years at all.
If you were in the Dallas Stars' place, what would you do? Agree to the 4 year term and risk letting the future of the franchise walk away for nothing the first day he's a free agent? Try to tack on some additional years, potentially putting you into cap trouble in the process? I don't have an answer for you, and, at this point, neither do the Stars.
Coming up in today's links: Some additional thoughts about the Benn dilemma, training camp news and notes, and a preview of the entire western conference.
- Before we dive into more Benn news, don't forget about the Ice Breaker event the Stars are having today. If you have some free time, it's definitely worth checking out. And don't forget to take pictures for us! [DallasStars.com]
- A news team from Victoria caught up with Jordie Benn asking him about his chance to be a regular on an NHL team. Luckily, they also remembered to ask about his younger brother's contract status. [ChekNews]
- Mike Heika shows how this negotiation is not as simple as it would seem at first glance. Both sides have legitimate arguments that can be made, and both sides want to try and reach the best deal possible for themselves. [Dallas News]
- Meanwhile, at training camp, both Philip Larsen and Aaron Rome are expected to return to practice today. Stars fans can now breathe a sigh of relief that neither defenseman will miss any actual game time to start the season. Even though there's only two days of camp left, there's still plenty to work on. [Stars Inside Edge]
- One of the main priorities this year will be fixing the power play. And with so many new faces on the team, it may take a lot of tweaking this year to figure it out. [Dallas News]
- If Jamie Benn really does miss a few games, eyes could quickly turn to Cody Eakin to help fill that void until he returns. He showed he was ready when playing down in Austin this year. Hopefully he can provide the extra boost the Dallas Stars need. [Stars Inside Edge]
- So what does it take to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals and win it all? A high skilled, high scoring team, or a rough and rugged bunch looking for a scrap? Thanks to the parity in the NHL, the answer can be either. [Globe And Mail]
- Here's a list of themes to keep an eye on across the NHL during this shortened season. I found it interesting that they believe fighting will see an increase compared to last year, since that was what happened in the '95 post lockout season. Because nothing about the style of play has changed since then, right? [Sports Illustrated]
- Down Goes Brown previews the Western Conference in the way that only he can. Being a fan of the Hitchcock system, I particularly enjoy the preview of the St. Louis Blues. [Down Goes Brown]
- Mike Heika tracked down what some of the recently departed Stars players were up to. Apparently Adam Pardy wasn't too happy with the coaches while he was here. I'll just hold my tongue on that one. [Dallas News]
- For your video of the day, we have more practice sessions from training camp. I know I've posted a lot of them lately, but I do rather enjoy seeing them skate around in a somewhat stress free environment. Something tells me things are going to get pretty intense in just a couple more days.