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Will Jamie Benn have an offensive resurgence this season?

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 06: Jamie Benn #14 of the Dallas Starsadvances the puck against the Dallas Stars at the United Center on April 06, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Stars 4-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 06: Jamie Benn #14 of the Dallas Starsadvances the puck against the Dallas Stars at the United Center on April 06, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Stars 4-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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The short answer to the question posed in today’s headline is ‘yes’. Dallas Stars fans will see a points resurgence from Jamie Benn in 2021-22. However, any discussion about Benn’s offense requires honest discussion about where the Stars captain is at in his career.

Such discussion begins with the fact Benn isn’t the bad player some fans seem to think he has become.

In reality, Jamie Benn was not bad last season

To be clear, Jamie Benn struggled last season, but he did not play bad by any means. Fans demanding that Benn “play to his contract” are unreasonable and a certain degree ignorant. Benn struggled to lead the Dallas Stars through 2020-21 season while facing instability in the schedule and lineup. Is there another NHL captain that would have done better with such awful circumstances?

Benn’s points per game last season were the lowest of his career, but his 35 points were 4th among Stars forwards. The lack of point production was understandable, considering the losses of Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov to major injury. Benn spent most of the season paired with Jason Dickinson and Dennis Gurianov in a defense-first role.

Fans must also consider Benn was moved to center ice in April. The move resulted in a 13-point streak over 11 games before Benn, again, struggled to generate points without formidable scorers on the wings.

DALLAS, TEXAS – APRIL 15: Jamie Benn #14 of the Dallas Stars checks Oliver Bjorkstrand #28 of the Columbus Blue Jackets into the glass in the first period at American Airlines Center on April 15, 2021 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TEXAS – APRIL 15: Jamie Benn #14 of the Dallas Stars checks Oliver Bjorkstrand #28 of the Columbus Blue Jackets into the glass in the first period at American Airlines Center on April 15, 2021 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Benn sacrificed his scoring for a defense-first approach

A lot of cerebral Stars fans are quick to point out Jamie Benn’s decline in point totals stretch beyond last season. Such is good observation as Benn was practically a point-per-game player as recent as 2017-18. However, there are a lot of misconceptions as to why Benn’s point totals aren’t what they used to be.

Adapting to a defensive-first philosophy requires veteran pillars like Jamie Benn to transform their game

Peter Knowles recently provided analysis that explains Benn’s sacrifice of offense to support the Dallas Stars enhanced emphasis of defense. Knowles points out that, at Benn’s offensive peak, the Stars couldn’t do better than 7 playoff wins in 3 seasons. Adapting to a defensive-first philosophy requires veteran pillars like Jamie Benn to transform their game. The captain has transformed and it was a key to the Stars trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2020.

Benn has been more than unselfish since giving up his personal stats for an improved Stars defensive approach. The Dallas captain has succeeded in tighter-checking and his metrics support a more responsible approach to shot selection. What used to be a litany of shots on goal for Benn has turned into creating opportunities for his teammates. Another positive is that Benn’s FO% in 2020-21 was career best.

Sure, Jamie Benn is not the same player he once was. However, fans that think Benn is “washed up” or “needs to show up” are not really watching Dallas Stars hockey.

What’s ahead for Benn in 2021-22

We’ll admit the Stars have a need to pick up their scoring a bit in 2021-22. A clean bill of health will help such cause, but Dallas also needs to tweak their approach. Is there a better tweak than Jamie Benn taking more chances on net himself? Given the player he has morphed into, we’re not sure opponents would see a Benn offensive renaissance coming.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 29: Jamie Benn #14 of the Dallas Stars during the first period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on December 29, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 29: Jamie Benn #14 of the Dallas Stars during the first period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on December 29, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Jamie Benn needs to be back on the left side, where he’s most comfortable, and paired with Seguin and Radulov. Once this happens, there’s no reason to doubt his offensive potential in the new season.

Ultimately, one cannot argue Benn’s leadership, which is crucial for the Stars. Dallas will put one of the oldest teams on the ice this season, but the infusion of young talent beginning to show. The younger, talented Stars will look to the Jamie Benn’s for guidance. Such guidance and wisdom cannot be under appreciated or underestimated. Not now, when COVID-19 remains a problem and individual responsibility off the ice carries enormous weight.

Dallas Stars fans can count on Jamie Benn to have more box score visibility this season. We think he’s due for a big season on both ends of the ice and will lead the team back to playoffs. –J.G.

Next. Why Roope Hintz will be the Stars MVP this season. dark