August 08 2012 06:13AM
Bet on Benn to be even better in 2012-13
Photo by Resolute via Wikimedia Commons
The 2012 season saw Jamie Benn start to get national recognition for the type of player he has been developing into over the course of the prior two seasons. He was the Dallas Stars best player on most nights into 2011-12 despite being one of their youngest. The Stars offseason activities are going to further thrust Benn into the spotlight in 2013.
The question is "Can Jamie Benn actually be better?".
The answer is a resounding yes. Benn, despite already being an elite player, is primed for a significant breakout season next year.
Production Despite Obstacles
At first glance the idea that Benn has an even higher ceiling than he showed last year seems questionable. The 23-year old eclipsed the 60-point plateau for the first time in his career and made his first all-star appearance (despite being the second to last player picked in the all AS game draft).
Benn was productive last season even with significant roadblocks in his path to superstardom. The most significant of those was the composition of the Stars roster. Despite being the most talented player on the ice on any given night, the focus of the roster wasn't Benn. Instead Mike Ribeiro was more often set up to succeed by Dallas' coaching staff.
In his time with the Stars Ribeiro was both a very effective and productive player. Last season was a disaster though and as the season wore on the Stars gave Ribeiro more and more favorable ice time. Benn, on the other hand, got everything else. Despite this his production at even strength was still comparable to the very best scorers in the NHL.
How Does Benn Stack Up?
Evgeni Malkin led the NHL in even strength points per 60 minutes last year at 3.66. Jordan Eberle followed him at 3.08. Tied for third were Steven Stamkos and Benn at 2.88. Over the past four years 30 players have scored more than 2.8 points per 60 even strength minutes. Benn skated in much less favorable ice time than those 30 players cumulatively in each season and in total. Below is how Benn in 2012 stacked up in terms of PP time on ice per 60 minutes, offensive zone start percentage, and Corsi Relative Quality of Competition to his >2.8 points per 60 minutes comtemporaries.
As you can see, Benn faced more difficult competition, took a significantly smaller percentage of offensive zone draws, and got significantly less powerplay time than his contemporaries. These numbers don't even speak to the skaters he usually had on his wings. More often than not Benn skated with Steve Ott and Adam Burish as the season moved forward.
The Stars moves this offseason were driven by the dual goals of building depth and featuring Jamie Benn. The aforementioned circumstances stunted his production significantly last season in a year when the Stars could have used a few extra goals here and there to push them into the playoffs. Benn has proven to be one of the top young players in the league, but he has more in him. The Stars recognized this fact, and if Benn can remain healthy he's in for a massive breakout in 2013.