As the Dallas Stars head into the offseason, they have a pretty clear outline of what their core looks like on the current roster. That core is obviously led by Jamie Benn, who was signed to a long-term contract at the beginning of the 2013 season and has the look of a franchise player.
Benn came back into the lineup after his brief lineup and picked up right where he left off. Coming off of a career year in 2011-2012, in which he notched 63 points, Benn finished with 33 in 41 games, including 12 goals, which would have had him on pace for another 20-goal season.
In his time with the Stars, Benn has played both out on the wing and in the middle. It was really Joe Nieuwendyk that facilitated that move from the wing to the middle, as he wanted Benn to transform into the dominant center that the Stars overall lack. And the results so far have been promising.
We know that Benn is one of the better young players throughout the league. His size and playmaking ability can make him an effective center, even if his faceoff skills over the past two seasons have not been the greatest. But are the Stars maximizing what they’re getting from Benn if he’s in the middle?
His first season in the middle did lead to his best season of his career, as those 63 points came in only 71 games. Does it make more sense to keep him in the middle, open up space for him, and allow him to set up his teammates, or allow him to remain out on the perimeter and be a pure goal scorer?
The answer to that question will be determined by what the Stars do this summer. If they go out and acquire a true center for the top line, perhaps a guy like Brad Richards if he’s bought out, then one could easily see Benn moving out to the wing again. If not, it’s pretty clear that the new front office and coaching staff will agree with Nieuwendyk’s sentiment that Benn is the top option in the middle for this club.