James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Benn gets his Benjamins

Friday, January 25, 2013

If you felt or heard a sudden sigh of relief - maybe even an outright holler - late on Thursday evening, it’s quite possible you were in reasonable proximity to a Dallas Stars fan and/or Jamie Benn fantasy owner.

Surely a few sets of knuckles were getting a little white as Benn and the Stars’ negotiations forced the somewhat hidden gem to miss the fourth game of the season (in Thursday’s case: against the Chicago Blackhawks in Dallas). Then, out of nowhere, word surfaced while the Stars briefly held a 1-0 lead: Benn and the Stars agreed to a five-year contract.

It’s important not to call the deal an extension because he was without a deal. Those five years include this abbreviated season, so Benn is covered through the 2016-17 at an average of $5.25 million per year (the first being prorated).


Now, a player receiving a bargain contract doesn’t have a gigantic fantasy impact - the most practical result could be that a team can more easily afford to keep its important elements together - but as an observer of team building, it still is mandatory to step back and rave about a deal that totals $26.25 million.

Even last season, I thought Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk would be shrewd to use division rivals’ dual Corey Perry-Ryan Getzlaf deals as a benchmark for discussions with Dallas’ own impact forward.

As it turns out, Nieuwendyk landed the comparably gifted - if not quite as hyped - Benn for a little bit less than what Perry and Getzlaf received in their second contracts. That would be a remarkable bit of work if the Stars managed that near-twin deal in the same period as the Anaheim Ducks handed out those doppelganger deals, but it gets close to jaw-dropping when you consider that Perry and Getzlaf’s contracts kicked in and 2008-09 and are set to expire.

In other words, the Stars managed to hand Benn a deal that’s cheaper than that comparable benchmark despite five years of escalating contracts. You’d think the Stars would need to stomach some sort of “inflation,” yet they ended up with brilliant savings.

Then again, when you look at the team’s admittedly budget-conscious structure (is locked up through 2015-16 for just $4.25 million per year!), maybe Dallas is really on the verge of something special soon.


Sometimes, all you need to do is see what happened to your peers to get you moving in one way or another.

After Thursday night, it’s going to be a lot tougher for P.K. Subban and Ryan O’Reilly to ask their respective teams for more than $5.25 million per year. That’s especially true for O’Reilly, who for all the verve he displayed last season, is far less proven and crucial than Subban and Benn are right now.

Really, if you’re Subban, you almost hope that a defensively desperate franchise like the Philadelphia Flyers or Detroit Red Wings throw a fat offer sheet your way. That seems unlikely in the country club atmosphere that is the GM boys’ club (try to imagine a bitter mood over mint juleps* - I cannot), yet it could help those teams to improve or even force the Habs into action.

It can get much worse at the moment for Montreal in particular. Rumors began swirling (again) that Subban could be traded if this impasse continues. We’re 24 hours from the one-week mark of the 2013 season, so it’s getting to the point where these teams must be a little annoyed by these absences.

GM Marc Bergevin would be nuts to lose his cool and trade Subban, though.

* - I assume that general managers drink numerous mint juleps. Seems like a drink of choice for shadowy, powerful figures who probably also play a lot of golf. I make weird assumptions.

After the jump: worrisome injury updates, glorious celebrations and more.

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James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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