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Dallas Stars: Is Jamie Benn Headed For A Breakout Year?

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The Dallas Stars have been among the busier teams this summer, attempting to rebuild on the fly and bringing in some veteran talent to kick-start the offense. But if the Stars want to make the playoffs, their biggest move will have to come from within, as one of their players stands on the verge of elite.

Jamie Benn has improved all three years he’s been in the National Hockey League. And last season was his best, as he broke the 60-point mark and punched a ticket to Ottawa for the All Star Game.

Benn has shown in his first three years at the highest level that he’s potentially a player the Stars can build around. Having bounced between wing and center last year, Benn figures to move back to wing permanently to start the year and can build on his production from the past few seasons.

In those first three years, Benn has tallied exactly 70 goals combined, setting a new career high last season with 26. He looks like he’s capable of being an elite scorer. But his game goes beyond that.

Benn also notched over 130 hits on the year. So not only is he a top tier offensive talent, but he has a rare combination of size and skill that could make him an elite player in the very near future. The only question is whether or not he can take that next step towards becoming elite in 2012-2013.

The Stars added some top notch offensive talent, as old as it might be, with the addition of guys like Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney, as well as Derek Roy who could end up next to Benn in the middle of that top line, whenever he is ready to begin the season. Those additions, assuming they don’t flash their age too bad (in reference to Jagr and Whitney), should help him grow even more offensively.

Of course, the concern over Benn isn’t so much if he’ll take the next step. It’s when he’ll have a new contract. Benn is currently one of several young, talented restricted free agents still out on the market. It seems like a matter of time before he gets a new one, but until he’s locked up, there will be some level of concern there.

Once that happens, Jamie Benn should be ready to step back into his role on the top line. And as the Stars look to get back into the postseason, it will be him that leads them there.

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