It's been an amazing ride for Jamie Benn, and many of us have been lucky enough to follow along with him in his journey from the juniors to baby-faced rookie to the electrifying captain of last season's playoff team. We always knew that Benn was going to be a special player, but growing into the best left wing in all of hockey is something I don't think even the biggest Stars fans expected.
We've written countless articles about Benn since his days with Kelowna in 2009, and I don't know what else there is to say at this point. Benn's jump last season from "really good, top NHL power forward" to "elite winger and best-in-the-league-at-his-position" was rather incredible to watch, especially since not many expected him to grow into the leader he's become.
We all know how good Benn is and just how complete his game has become -- an elite sniper with perhaps the NHL's most accurate shot, great size and physicality and strong play up and down the ice has made him easily the best overall player on the team.
Most importantly, he quickly grew into his role as the leader on the Stars last season and he now completely commands this team on and off the ice. Jason Dickinson relayed to us how Benn has been a calming presence to him during his first NHL training camp, and he's allowing his personality to come through a bit more in public as he gets more comfortable in this role.
How good of a season Benn will have in 2014-2015 is tough to tell; the additions of Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky have created depth on the roster he hasn't had the advantage of in quite some time, and he and Tyler Seguin are poised to have even bigger numbers than last season's career year. Most importantly, their bromance seems to be stronger than ever and has been instrumental in creating one heck of a positive atmosphere in the locker room and around the team.
What else is there to say about Benn? This season will be a defining moment for his career, as expectations are higher than they've been in six years for the Stars and suddenly not making the postseason will be seen as a failure, rather than just a hopeful outcome. Is there another step for him to take?
Jamie Benn is still relatively young in his career and can still get better and take his game to another level, which is a heck of a scary proposition for the rest of the Central Division.