This was always supposed to be a feel-good season for Jamie Benn. When it began, Benn passed Derian Hatcher for most seasons as the captain in franchise history. In Dallas’ first game back from the All-Star break, Benn will be celebrated for his 1,000th game in the NHL, all in one sweater.
Most assumed that the highlight packages for these accomplishments would be from years past, when Benn was scoring his way to an Art Ross Trophy as a featured piece of the Stars’ top line. Instead, Benn’s present production has taken the spotlight. Already this season, Benn has had the highest-scoring month of his career, with 23 points in November, beating his previous best of 18.
Benn has 19 goals and 25 assists in 51 games, putting him on pace to finish with 71 points. It would be his highest-scoring output since scoring 79 in 2017-18. He’s already close to his 82-game totals from last season (18 goals, 28 assists). His impact off the ice has always been revered, even during his down years. But this year’s resurgence on the stat sheet has been one of the most pleasant surprises for the Stars.
“I don’t know if it’s one thing,” Stars head coach Pete DeBoer said. “I think it’s a whole combination of things. I think a fresh start, fresh people you’re playing with, a little bit of a fresh system. I think his own commitment to basically let everyone know that he’s a long way from being done. It didn’t come easily. That’s what I give him most credit for.”
That’s something that often gets lost in this impressive season. In his first nine games, Benn had zero goals and three assists. Not only did the noise of his deterioration from years past persist; it got louder. The one-time leading scorer in the NHL had become a third-line winger producing like a fourth-line player.