The 2014 Winter Olympics have provided Jamie Benn the opportunity to showcase his talents to the world, and he has not disappointed.
The Dallas Stars found a diamond in the rough seven years ago when they drafted Benn in the fifth round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He has grown from an afterthought to a budding superstar in less than seven years. If the Draft was redone today, there is no doubt that Benn would be selected in the first round, probably even in the top 10. Considering where he was picked and his status now, he has made great strides over the course of his career, already with his prime years still ahead of him.
Over the last few seasons, Benn has grown from a contributing player near the bottom of the Stars’ lineup, to the team’s leader on and off the ice. He led the team in scoring last season and was named the franchise’s sixth captain last summer. He has tallied 104 goals and 244 points in 321 games in the NHL, but he provides more than just exceptional offensive statistics.
As he has shown with both the Stars and Team Canada, Benn is capable of carrying a team and willing it to victory. His speed, physicality and strength on the puck help his team at both ends of the rink. In the opening game against Team Norway, his hard work behind the net drew a penalty, which led to Canada’s first goal of the tournament. He utilized his slick hands and precise shot to score a goal later that period.
Benn remained off the score sheet for the next three games, but he contributed in other ways. He continued to create offensive chances, throw punishing body checks and kill penalties. He was tied for third on the team in shots through the preliminary round, despite playing mostly on the fourth line. In the semifinal matchup against the Team USA on Friday, Benn scored the game’s lone goal on a skillful deflection in front of the net.
Benn has one final opportunity in this tournament to show what he is capable of. Canada is set to play Team Sweden in the gold medal game. His line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry has arguably been Canada’s best, and they will be counted on to help lead the team to victory. If he continues his strong play in the gold medal game, Benn could find himself as the tournament’s MVP and a household name. Not bad for a 24 year old originally drafted in the fifth round.