Monday, May 3, 2010

Jamie Benn Article on the NHL Website

Here's an interesting article regarding Jamie Been who's gone from a stellar NHL Rookie to helping the Texas Stars in their AHL Playoff Run. So far in 6 AHL Playoff Games, he's been very stelar by scoring 8 points (4G 4A) and is leading the team in scoring so-far.

He's having this success despite not playing a single game in the AHL all season long during the regular season. During the NHL Regular Season, he played in all 82 games where he scored 22 goals and added 19 assists. Doing this while playing both Left Wing & Center during the season.

From Lindsay Kramer of the NHL Website:

Class was in session for the Texas Stars last week. Rookie forward Jamie Benn and his classmates cracked open the books on the Chicago Wolves in advance of the West Division Finals between the two teams.

"It should be a tough series, bit it should be pretty fun," Benn said. "It's something new. But that's why were here preparing for this team. Now you go into the game and just play."

While scouting reports may have their advantages, perhaps the less Benn knows about any Stars Opponent or even the league in general the better.

Combining the wonderment of a new comer and steelingess of a bill collector, Benn, 20, has been Texas' true gift from above this post-season. After playing the full season with Dallas, where he posted 22 goals and 19 assists in 82 games, he comes to the farm team for a little spring break in the AHL.

Despite not having never played a second in the league and knowing almost nothing about the competition, his adjustment period passed in the time it tooked to find the new rink. He scored in his first AHL Contest - Game 1 of the opening series against the Rockford Icehogs - and produced 3 goals and 3 assists in the sweep. He then added a goal and an assist in the 4-3 win in overtime of Game 1 against the Chicago Wolves.

Playoff experience? sure thing. The 6'2", 207 pound Benn will experience putting up points and helping Texas experience winning.

"It was a challenge. But these are the fun times," he said of his debut. "I had the adrealine pumping. I felt pretty good out there. I had the first goal, and I just ran with it."

Texas coach Glen Gulutzan saw this type of storm gathering strength months ago. Really, he did. Gulutzan watched Benn in the Traverse City Rookie's Tournament last preseason and was struck by the prosepcts bear trap of a mind. You told him something, he went out there and did it. And then he did again, only much better.

"I could tell right away he could implement, the way you want to play on his first shift." Gulutzan said. "He's a real cerebral player. He can use his size and strength. He's strong on the puck. He can make plays in tight. He's a real well rounded play.

Benn's center stage background was beyond question. He won a gold medal at the 2009 World Junior Championships with Team Canada and then finished 5th overall in the WHL and led Kelowna with 46 goals in just 56 games. He took Kelowna to the Memorial Cup Finals with a league leading 33 points in 19 playoff games.

"I got to play in some pretty big games. That helps you a lot down the road to know what to expect, how to control your emotions," Benn said.

That would all be of use later on, after Benn, a 5th round draft pick back in 2007, served his dutiful apprenticeship in the AHL. Check that. Benn went through the pre-season and proved the closest he needed to come to the Minors was looking up the standings on the internet if he wanted.

"We had him pegged on our board in Texas." Any time you get a fifth rounder impacting the NHL like Jamie Benn impacted it, you have to have the element of surprise," said Scott White, assistant GM of Dallas. "In trainning camp, he took advantage of his opportunities. He plays both sides of the puck and can finish. The Kid is a player."

There was always a Plan B, though, no matter how long it took to unfold. Dallas thought all along that if the Stars didn't make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, at least Benn would get a chance for some pro post-season flavoring with Texas.

"We value the playoff experience in the American Hockey League. For players like Jamie Benn, the positives far outweigh the negatives," White said.

"I was excited to come down here and play some hockey. I prepared myself for it, and I was ready to go," Benn said. "It's definitley step up from the WHL Playoffs. It's a lot more challenging, a lot faster. I just want to have a good effort, bring out the best in what I can. It benefits me a lot."

"That's a good question," White said of where Benn will settle. "I think down the road, in the NHL, he'll be center. I bet if you asked him to play D, he'd play D.

Gulutzun plans on exploiting that enthusiasm while he can. Whenever Benn winds up playing long term, the coach is thinking that it's very doubtful it will be in the AHL any time soon.

"You won't see Jamie Benn in the American Hockey League after these playoffs, I'll tell you that," Gulutzan said. "This is a one shot deal for Jamie Benn."

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