Jamie Benn's big move back to the wing thanks to the arrival of Tyler Seguin has been one of the more talked about developments of the off-season. Jim Nill named it as a goal publicly even before he had acquired a single center iceman in free agency or trade.
As is turns out, however, Benn may not be completely done in the middle.
New Stars coach Lindy Ruff, in conversation with Mark Stepneski at Stars Inside Edge, remarked that while the transition back to wing will be an easy one for Benn, he may still have occasion to utilize the skills learned these last two seasons.
"I had the conversation with him that he may not have the puck as much as he did when he played center," Ruff told Stepneski.
That will be a change, though whatever chemistry forms between he and Seguin need not be limited by a traditional center/winger dynamic. Both are capable of scoring and both are comfortable with the puck on their sticks. The way forward has many paths.
"The one thing that I told him is to be ready to take some shifts at center ice still." I think it was a position that by the end of the year that he got pretty comfortable with. It was slowed down a little bit by a nagging injury. He said he is more than willing to go between a couple of positions."
The nagging injury was a wrist that nearly barred him from shooting the puck altogether for a stretch to end the year.
The idea of double shifting Benn isn't a new one, as Stars fans know. Marc Crawford did it mercilessly in the waning weeks of the 2010-2011 season in an attempt to get the team to the post-season. At 95 points it nearly worked.
If the Stars do keep some of the more intriguing fourth line options around like Scott Glennie, or if Nichushkin starts his NHL career there as so many do, Benn double shifting may be an effective way to threaten with more regularity.
The real question is if he'll be forced back into playing the position with more regularity to balance the Stars' attack if he and Seguin prove to be the only threatening force. The second line center position has no clear favorite. Would Benn be asked to move back if November is coming but the goals for the team are not?
Benn, Seguin, Rich Peverley, and Cody Eakin are all capable of playing the pivot or wing. Watching how Lindy Ruff manipulates his lineup knowing that's the case should be interesting as things get started.
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