Hey guys, we're ending the player profiles series with Jamie Benn.
We'll have a rundown on the Texas Stars at some point and I'll be going up to Traverse City, Mich. for the prospects tournament, so the blog should he hopping as we near training camp.
As for Jamie Benn, how can you not be impressed with this guy? A fifth round pick coming out of the British Columbia Hockey League (a notch below Major Junior) in 2007, Benn has become one of the best that Canada produced in that draft season.
Last season, as a member of the Kelowna Rockets, he was a goal-scoring machine. After helping the Stars to the championship of the prospects tournament up in Michigan (he had five goals in four games), he went to Kelowna and scored 46 goals and 36 assists in 56 regular season games. He followed that up by leading the WHL in playoff scoring with an amazing 13 goals and 20 assists in 19 playoff games. He followed that up by leading the Memorial Cup (the national championship tournament in Canada) in scoring with five goals and four assists in four games. Kelowna finished second.
Oh yeah, inbetween, he had four goals and two assists in six games at the World Juniors, where Canada won a gold medal.
So what now?
It seems Benn would really like to push for a spot on the NHL roster. He will again travel to the prospects tournament, and that should be a nice head start for training camp. He will likely get plenty of chances in the preseason, possibly even playing with someone like Brad Richards or Mike Ribeiro. Could he be so good that the coaches have to keep him up? That's really unlikely. Brenden Morrow and James Neal look locked in on the left side, and Steve Ott and Fabian Brunnstrom can play there, as well.
The Stars just have some really nice top six wingers right now.
In my opinion, Benn's biggest challenge this year is to score goals when the expectations are very high to do just that. It's a hard thing to be able to deal with the pressure of being a goal-scorer, but if Benn lands in the AHL, he will be the star of that team. As such, he will be expected to carry that team at times. And that's a lot to ask of a young kid. But I think it's a step in the right direction of what Benn wants to become.
Brenden Morrow embraces that pressure right now. Bill Guerin loves that pressure. Brett Hull used to be the model of loving that pressure. Benn has to learn to hunger for goals the way that Hull used to.
Could he make the step in the NHL as a third or fourth line player and then work his way up? Maybe. But I think they want Benn to get in the mindset of being a superstar this year. That's something he'll probably work on in Cedar Park.