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Jordie Benn Becoming Steady Option on Dallas Stars' Blue Line

A look at the numbers reinforces what our eyeballs tell us: Jordie Benn has been pretty solid on a blue line that's generally been anything but.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

What a difference a couple of months make.

Undrafted Jordie Benn, former Allen American, former Victoria Salmon King of the ECHL, looked to fans to be a long shot to get a new contract when his deal expired in June. When he did get that contract (three years) he looked to be a number-seven or eight defenseman.

When he got into the lineup ahead of Jamie Oleksiak and an injured Aaron Rome he found himself with the fewest minutes among blue-liners through the first couple of games player.

10 games later he's arguably been one of the top three defensemen on the team. It's early yet, but it's one of the more noticeable positives to emerge in the young season.

In September I wrote about Jordie Benn, wondering what his place was and how a one-way deal in each of his next two years would fit with this franchise.

"The elder Benn may have a more favorable contract now but a place on the roster every night is far from certain as a stable of young defensemen with higher projected ceilings rapidly mature around him.

Stephane Robidas, Sergei Gonchar, Brenden Dillon, Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski will play. EVery night. That leaves one final spot and a healthy scratch to divide between Benn, Jamie Oleksiak, Kevin Connauton, Aaron Rome and Cameron Gaunce."

Fast forward two months and, thanks in part to poor starts by Goligoski and Sergei Gonchar, sure, Jordie Benn looks like one of the Stars' most consistent contributors on the back end. Taking a look at some simply possession numbers from Extra (Shots for, shots missed, shots blocked, goals - while on the ice):

Player GP GA Corsi For Corsi Against Corsi %
Dillon 12 9 191 184 50.9
Jo Benn 12 4 184 178 50.8
Robidas 12 9 173 170 50.4
Daley 12 9 186 185 50.1
Gonchar 12 5 167 188 47
Goligoski 11 8 152 175 46.5

The possession numbers are there at even-strength. Only Brenden Dillon has a higher Corsi percentage (shot attempts for, divided by total for and against), and what's really eye popping there is that Jordie has only been on the ice for four even-strength goals against.

He leads the Stars defense in shots at 21. He's second on the defense team in blocks with 22. He's second on the defense in scoring with a goal and an assist (though that's organizational weakness more than individual triumph...).

How about this one? He's not taken a single minor penalty yet this year while playing even strength minutes against what the numbers say is pretty average levels of competition- The only Stars defenseman without a minor this season, and he's even been credited with drawing three (though, two were high-sticks...).

Most of this was accomplished with Trevor Daley by his side. Behind The Net says the two have been together 62.5% of the time this season, and that's even with nearly three whole games apart now, so we'll see what happens to these numbers as the games continue, but as for who was buoying who - It's at least debatable.

He's been physical and reliable with the puck, though perhaps a bit quick to jump up in the offensive end at times, though that's how they're evidently being coached to play. More than any of the numbers and the tangible, it seems Stars fans have really started to trust him more and more.

Praising an element of such a maligned unit may be folly, but in this case he's earned it. Aaron Rome, Kevin Connauton, Cameron Gaunce, Jamie Oleksiak and Jordie Benn. It was clear as mud on September 13th, but apparently it was never even close.

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