We continue our series of grading each player that played a role for the Stars in the 2009-2010 season. At the end of each feature, you get to select the overall grade for each individual player. This is something we'll continue doing each season, and is a tool we can use to determine a player's progress year by year.
#14 / Left Wing / Dallas Stars
Jul 18, 1989
All stats used in this post courtesy of BehindTheNet.ca and NHL.com
Key Stat: Led all rookie skaters with 20 even-strength goals. The runner up, Matt Duchene, had 13.
The Good: Offensively, it was a fantastic year for the young Benn. Among rookies, Benn finished 2nd in goals, fifth in points and ninth in assists, and posted a plus-or-even record in 62 of 82 games. Benn proved he could play defense as well, finishing first in takeaways (70) and hits (185). Benn impressed fans and teammates with his hard shot and aggressive forechecking. And all of this play occurred while undergoing a positional change midway through the year, playing center for the first time in his career. After a rough introduction to the position, Benn quickly adapted to the position and saw his point production and goal scoring rise. Benn was second on the team in shooting percentage, and was one of the most consistent contributors on offense.
The Bad: Though he did slowly adapt to playing center, Benn's transition to the new position wasn't easy. Benn oftentimes looked lost out on the ice, uncomfortable with playing up the middle. He got blindsided more than a few times while crossing the middle of the ice and seemed to be trying to do too much with the puck after carrying it into the zone. Faceoffs also proved to be a struggle for Benn.
The Bottom Line: The Stars couldn't have asked for more from Jamie Benn. Not many rookies can adopt a whole new position in the middle of the season and still meet expectations, but that's exactly what Benn did. If there was a learning curve to the position, he passed it quickly. He benefited from centering a line with two veterans, Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen, who both made his transition much easier. His play seems to have convinced the Stars to keep developing him at center. With Mike Modano's absence next season, Benn will get more power play time and will play a full season down the middle. Barring a sophomore slump, Benn's display of scoring ability, grit and sense for the clutch moments give Stars fans hope for the future.
The Vote: Rate Benn on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.