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.
Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?
While lineups are obviously subject to change, CSNPhilly.com notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.
Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.
That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench, and that’s only counting what the Flyers are paying Gagner.
“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”
The CSNPhilly.com quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.
Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.
It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.
One of the NHL’s most notorious hitters has been tagged by the league.
On Monday, the Department of Player Safety announced that San Jose forward Raffi Torres has been suspended 41 games — half of the regular season — for an illegal check to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.
The length of Torres’ suspension is a combination of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ history of delivering hits to the heads of opposing players, including Jordan Eberle, Jarret Stoll, Nate Prosser and Marian Hossa.
“Torres has repeatedly violated league playing rules,” the Department of Player Safety explained. “And has been sanctioned multiple times for similar infractions.”
The league also noted that Torres has been warned, fined, or suspended on nine occasions over the course of his career, “the majority of which have involved a hit to an opponent’s head.”
“Same player every year,” Ducks forward Ryan Kesler said following the hit on Silfverberg. “I played with the guy [in Vancouver]. He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game anymore.”
As for what lies ahead, things could get interesting upon potential appeal:
Torres successfully appealed a suspension under the previous CBA, getting his punishment for the Hossa hit reduced from 25 to 21 games.
Under terms of the new CBA, Torres isn’t categorized as a repeat offender because his last suspension came in May of 2013 — more than two years ago.
Of course, part of the reason Torres hasn’t run afoul of the league in two years is because he’s barely played.
Knee injuries limited Torres to just 12 games in ’13-14, and he sat out last season entirely.