The Dallas Stars inked restricted free agent Jamie Benn to a five-year, $26.25 million contract Thursday night. Unfortunately, he might still not be available on Monday.
As a Canadian citizen, Benn needs a work visa to play for the Stars and, given that government offices aren’t opened on weekends, he still doesn’t have one, according to the Dallas Morning News.
So why didn’t Benn take care of this while he was still negotiating with the Stars? The simple answer is that he wasn’t allowed to until after he signed.
The 23-year-old forward has already missed the Stars’ opening five games and he will be unavailable for the sixth if the paperwork isn’t completed by 5:00 p.m. ET. Benn had three goals and five points in four games last season against Dallas’ upcoming opponent, the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Assuming the government work gets done today, the timing of Benn’s return would be great. Although Jaromir Jagr should return on Monday after missing time with back soreness, they might still be without Derek Roy (groin).
If Benn is available and Roy isn’t, then Benn will probably play on the top line with Jagr and Loui Eriksson. If the Stars end up with both forwards on Monday, then Stars coach Glen Gulutzan has indicated that he’ll probably balance the lines by putting Benn with Ray Whitney and Michael Ryder while Roy skates alongside Jagr and Eriksson.