The Dallas Stars will begin the shortened season with one huge absence: Jamie Benn.
Benn, a restricted free agent, is working out in Victoria, British Columbia while his teammates gear up for their home opener against the Phoenix Coyotes at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight.
“We love him as a teammate. He’s a special player. We’d be lying if we didn’t admit to that,” captain Brenden Morrow said in a Dallas Morning News report. “But we believe in the guys we have here.”
Morrow pointed to Tommy Wandell as a player that will step up tonight. Wandell will start on the season on the second line while Derek Roy is projected to play alongside Loui Eriksson and Jaromir Jagr. Once Benn is finally signed, Roy and Wandell will slide down in the depth charts.
The Dallas Stars and Benn have not shared a lot of details about the ongoing negotiations, but agent Rich Evans did say that his client is hoping to sign a contract in the three-to-five year range.
The Stars don’t want to sign him to a four-year deal as that would take him to his first summer of unrestricted free agent eligibility, but they would be willing to ink him to a three or five campaign deal. However, both sides are reportedly divided when it comes to the financial terms.
What makes this situation even more unfortunate for Dallas is the fact that they will hit the ground running this season. Dallas is scheduled to play seven games in 11 days starting with Saturday’s opener, so every day Benn goes unsigned is another significant blow to the Stars.