Frozen Tools Forensics: Jamie Benn
Since his rookie season in 2009-2010, Jamie Benn has been remarkably durable and very consistent in his point production. You could pretty much bank on him getting 75-85 points. This season he is on pace for 58 points and is not only a disappointment to the Stars CEO, but also to anyone who has him on their fantasy team. His salary cap hit is $9.5 million per year until 2024-2025 with a NMC for the entirety of the contract. This doesn’t bode well for anyone in a salary cap league as he is only in the second year of his 8-year contract. Is this just a one-year dip for Benn, or is this the beginning of a downward trend?
The first concerning stats for Benn this season are his SOG and iFF (any unblocked shot attempt). His shots/GP this season is 2.40, noticeably below his career average of 2.80, and his iFF/GP is 3.26 compared to his career average of 3.88. The second significant decrease is IPP. At all strengths, his IPP is at a career low of 61.0, coming off last season at 65.3 which was his previous low. His decline in IPP has been especially evident on the power play, where it is currently 43.48, a level not seen since his rookie season.
At even strength, Benn has played 43.7% of the time with Alexander Radulov and Tyler Seguin, so Benn hasn’t been mixed and matched with that many combinations. His ice time is down 1:45 and this might be a concerted effort by the coaching staff to rest him for the playoffs rather than a performance-based decision. Benn is not generating the same assist totals as in prior years and is only on pace for 10 secondary assists, well below his average of 16 or more at even strength most seasons.
On the power play, Benn has only two assists compared to his usual 13 or 14 each year. He is at 60.6% PP, so he is still on the first unit of the power play and is getting the minutes. The team is 19.7% on the power play, which is in line with last season, so something has changed in the setup and the Stars’ use of Benn while he is out there. Much like Bo Horvat from last week’s Forensics, the puck is simply not flowing through Benn like it once was.
Benn is a very good two-way player and his CF% of 48.89 shouldn’t be a concern as the team CF% is 47.48, down from 51.03 in 2017-2018. His PDO has been fairly high over the past two seasons, being above 103 on a team that hovers close to 100, so it might be an indicator that his stats are perhaps slightly inflated by puck luck.
Benn has played 733 NHL games, which is a lot for a 29-year-old who plays a very physical game like he does. Perhaps the wear and tear of playing almost every game is starting to take its toll? Perhaps with over $50 million guaranteed salary remaining, the incentive is no longer the same as it once was? If Benn makes it to the end of his contract, he will probably have played over 1,200 games. Former Stars great Mike Modano had somewhat similar stats to Benn after 700 games, but was slightly more proficient and finished his career with 1,499 games played, 561 goals, and 1,374 assists, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014. Modano didn’t start to tail off until the age of 33, but he didn’t play nearly the physical game that Benn does. Modano was able to string five seasons of 80-plus points from 29 to 33 years old.
With a cap hit of $9.5 million per year, Benn is very expensive for a 60 to 70-point guy who should score 25-30 goals. I truly believe he might have one bounce-back year in him, but I think his 75-point-plus years are behind him and I would look to trade him after the fantasy season.
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