Stars sign Jamie Benn to 8-year, $76 million extension: 5 things to know
Benn will have the fifth highest cap hit in the NHL starting in 2017-18
The Dallas Stars have signed captain Jamie Benn to a maximum eight-year extension worth $76 million. The new deal, which will kick in for the 2017-18 season, ties Benn with Evgeni Malkin for the fifth-highest cap hit in the NHL at $9.5 million per season.
Here are five things to know about the massive contract Dallas just signed its captain to:
1. Jamie Benn has become one of the elite power wingers in the game today
Benn, who turns 27 in three days, has blossomed into one of the very best power forwards in the entire NHL, particularly over the past five or so seasons. His game has really taken off over the last three years, however.
Benn won the Art Ross Trophy as the league's scoring champion for the 2014-15 season and was the runner-up this past season. He was also a finalist for the Hart Trophy for 2015-16, during which Benn had a career year with 41 goals and 89 points.
Since the lockout-shortened season in 2012-13, only two players -- Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane -- have more points than the 288 Benn has compiled in that span.
Over seven years in the NHL, Benn has appeared in 508 games -- all with the Stars. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound winger has 448 points, with 255 of them coming in the last three seasons as Benn has formed one of the elite duos in hockey with Tyler Seguin.
While Seguin has helped Benn take his game to new heights, we saw during the playoffs this year just how much Benn can do on his own. He was a dominant force as the Stars reached the second round of the postseason with Seguin out injured. He had 15 points in 13 games, looking like he was carrying the Stars on his back at various times.
He and Seguin make a great pair, but the Stars remain very much Jamie Benn's team.
2. The Stars avoid a Stamkos-like distraction by signing Benn now
The Tampa Bay Lightning did not let the Steven Stamkos free agency uncertainty derail their season, going all the way to the Eastern Conference finals, but they probably would have preferred not to deal with it. Stamkos was not signed to an extension before the season and as time dragged on, the questions about whether or not he'd stay only grew louder.
It wasn't until just a few days before Stamkos was due to become an unrestricted free agent that the Lightning got a max deal done with him. The captain ended up settling for an average of $8.5 million per season in order to remain with the Lightning, a certain hometown discount in hopes of leaving enough cap space for the Bolts to stay competitive.
One of the big reasons he could take less to stay was because of the lack of a state income tax in Florida. Benn gets the same advantage being in Texas, but tacks on $1 million more per season, on average. Not a bad deal if you can get it.
Meanwhile, the Stars don't have to worry about the constant needling by us in the media about the potential for him hitting unrestricted free agency nor do they have to have any concerns about Benn's focus. With so few forwards on Benn's level right now, Dallas simply had to pay him and they didn't waste much time with it.
3. Benn's contract puts him in pretty good company
Patrick Kane and Chicago Blackhawks teammate Jonathan Toews lead the league with $10.5 million cap hits each. Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings has a $10 million cap hit starting next season and Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin's contract comes with a $9,548,461 cap hit.
Among the players behind Benn in terms of cap hit are P.K. Subban ($9 million), Sidney Crosby ($8.7 million), Corey Perry ($8.625 million), Henrik Lundqvist ($8.5 million) and Stamkos ($8.5 million).
The Kane and Toews deals have really changed the way stars are being paid. We saw it with the Kopitar extension signed last season and expected to see it with Stamkos before he opted to take less (tax benefits aside) to stay with Tampa. Based on the trend, Benn is getting exactly what he deserves.
4. There's a big difference between Benn and the other guys making this kind of money
There is only a $1 million per year difference between what Kane makes and what Benn does. What makes that notable is that Kane was selected 128 slots ahead of Benn during the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Kane was the first overall pick that year, while Benn was a fifth-round selection.
Of the 10 other players listed above, only two aside from Benn were not first-round draft picks (Subban and Lundqvist). The fact that Benn worked his way from fifth-round pick to one of the six highest paid players in the NHL is simply remarkable.
5. Dallas has some time before it will have to deal with salary cap concerns
With the new deal for Benn, naturally the next question is how much is Tyler Seguin going to cost? We won't need an answer to that question for a little while, though. Seguin is under contract for three more seasons and won't even be eligible to sign an extension until July of 2018. That gives GM Jim Nill a lot of time to figure things out.
With Benn signing, the central piece of this team's core is under contract through the 2024-25 season. Top defenseman John Klingberg is locked up at a reasonable $4.25 million cap hit through the 2021-22 season. They'll pay Seguin when the time comes and will definitely have to address goaltending at some point in the near future, but the Stars have a chance to be a pretty powerful team in the Western Conference for years to come.
Getting a deal done with Benn, especially one of this magnitude, shows that this organization is serious about getting back to the upper tier they occupied through the late 1990s and early 2000s.
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