NEW YORK -- Dallas Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon predicts Canada will use a line of Jamie Benn, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He feels for any defensemen who would have to match up against a trio like that.
"I think that line would be pretty deadly," said Dillon, who visited the NHL offices Tuesday shortly after Canada announced its Olympic roster that included Benn, the Stars captain. "Just from playing against those two [Perry and Getzlaf] on their own and adding a third guy in there who can skate just as well, make plays just as well and is just as hard to handle down low … they should be OK."
As a defenseman, how would Dillon try to handle a line as big and skilled as one that features Benn on the left, Getzlaf in the middle and Perry on the right?
"Try to keep the puck away from them as much as you can, stay on offense," he said. "Even then those guys are up there in takeaways. Those guys, they're so good and they're two right-handers and a left-handed shot tossing it in there. Perry and Getzlaf, their chemistry says something already, and then Benn, playing with him for two years now, I mean he deserves all the accolades he's starting to get. One thing in Dallas is he's flying under the radar, but I think this is so good for him."
Dillon was not at all surprised Benn made the Canadian roster despite not being invited to the Olympic orientation camp in August.
Benn has been a dominant winger for the Stars this season with 37 points in 42 games. He has the size to dominate on the wall (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) and Dillon said Benn's speed is underrated.
"That's been a knock on him and I don't know how it could be," Dillon said. "He's so deceptive. He's probably the fastest skater on our team, and on this big ice in the Olympics it's going to show how well he can play and have the puck. It seems like when he's got guys on him, those one-on-ones in practice, he can have one hand on his stick and he's still looking for the next play."
Dillon, though, seems just as impressed with Stars 18-year-old rookie Valeri Nichushkin, who was selected to play for Russia in Sochi. Nichushkin, who is 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, has 22 points in 41 games. He is playing right wing on the Stars' top line with Benn and center Tyler Seguin.
"Falling to 10th overall in this past year's draft, I think that's a steal," Dillon said. "For a guy to come over at 18 and have that language barrier, he's been great. The knock on him would maybe be he's a young guy, but he really wants to get better. He works hard in practice. He's playing with Benn and Seguin, our two top guys, but he really complements them as a power forward.
"To look forward to him to play for our team for another 20 years is something exciting. You see the Malkins, the Ovechkins, you can tell he's got a little bit of this and that."