Forward Jamie Benn was taken by the Dallas Stars with the 129th overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, but it only took him a couple years to become an everyday player at the NHL level and at the age of 24, he’s one of the team’s best players. That ability to defy the odds seems to runs in the family.
His elder brother, defenseman Jordie Benn, has endured an even harder route, but after going undrafted and starting his pro career with the ECHL Victoria Salmon Kings in 2008-09, he earned a three-year deal this summer after recording six points in 26 contests with Dallas in 2013.
“My dad said just never quit because you never know what can happen,” Jordie Benn, 26, told Stars Inside Edge. “A couple years ago I was really far away from the NHL. I knew that. I never stopped working and I am never going to stop working. I’ve always worked hard and I’ve worked hard for what I’ve got.”
Despite the Stars showing a meaningful level of trust in him, Benn’s uphill battle is far from over. His deal with the Stars doesn’t turn into a one-way contract until 2014-15, which means that it will cost the team less if he spends the some time in the minors this season.
Dallas has five defensemen signed to one-way contracts, so Benn will be competing with Brenden Dillon, Kevin Connauton, and Jamie Oleksiak for the other two or three spots. To make things harder for Benn, Dillon will almost certainly take one of those spots after firmly establishing himself with the Stars in 2013. Oleksiak will also be stiff competition. He’s a former first-round pick and highly regarded prospect who got his first taste of NHL action last season.
All the same, Benn’s goal isn’t just to make the team. He wants to find a way to crack the Stars’ top three pairings. That will be difficult, but his Dad told them, you never know.
Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.
Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below:
Steve Stamkos began to practice again on Tuesday and he was back out there on Wednesday and Thursday, which some might interpret as him being close to returning. It seems premature to say that definitively.
“It could be weeks. It could be months,” Stamkos said of his timetable, per ESPN. “That’s the tough part.”
The problem isn’t getting back into game shape after undergoing vascular surgery in early April. He feels he’s already close to reaching that objective. The issue is that Stamkos is on blood thinners, which prevents him from taking any contact. It remains to be seen how long he’ll be on blood thinners.
For what it’s worth, Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy underwent the same surgery and was out for two months and the original timetable provided on April 4 for Stamkos was one-to-three months. So based on that, it sounds like it would be surprising if he returned anytime soon.
Will Patrice Bergeron join Bob Gainey as the only players to have ever won the Selke Trophy four times?
That’s a distinct possibility after the Bruins center was named as a finalist along with Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler and Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar.
The Selke Trophy honors the league’s top defensive forward and for three of the last four years, that distinction has gone to Bergeron. However, Kesler and Kopitar have been popular with the voters of this award as well.
Kopitar has finished second in the voting in each of the previous two campaigns while Kesler won back in 2011, though he finished outside of the top-five in each of the last three years prior to the 2015-16 campaign.
Among the trio, Kesler excelled this season on the draw with a 58.5% success rate, which was good for second in the league among forwards who took at least 200 faceoffs. Bergeron was up there too, winning 57.1% of his draws while Kopitar posted a 53.5%. Meanwhile, Bergeron ranked seventh in the NHL with 67 takeaways compared to Kesler’s 39 and Kopitar’s 43. Where Kopitar stood out was in plus/minus as he finished second in the league at plus-34. Kesler was plus-five and Bergeron was plus-12.
Kopitar similarly led the trio with a 57.4% Corsi For versus Bergeron’s 55.9% and Kesler’s 52.9%.
Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik missed half of Washington’s first round series, but he’s back in time for the opener against his former team.
Orpik last played on April 18 and was regarded as questionable going into tonight’s contest against Pittsburgh. He’s expected to be paired with John Carlson throughout the contest.
Washington’s other projected pairings are Karl Alzner and Matt Niskanen as well as Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt.
Orpik was limited to 41 games during the 2015-16 regular season, but when he did play he averaged 19:48 minutes per contest. He also recorded 125 hits and 102 blocked shots despite missing half the season. The 35-year-old blueliner got his start with Pittsburgh and played in 703 regular season contests with them and an additional 92 postseason contests. This is his second season with Washington.