DALLAS -- By the time Jamie Benn returns to the ice for the Dallas Stars, which likely will happen Monday night, the All-Star forward will have missed the first six games of the season.
However, Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said the wait will be worth it for Benn, who signed a five-year, $26.25 million contract on Thursday night.
"It's really big. We know how important he is to our hockey club," Nieuwendyk said during Thursday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks. "It's good for our hockey club. It's great for Jamie. He needs to be back in that locker room with his teammates and tomorrow he will be."
Benn, 23, was a first-time All-Star last season, when he had the second-most points on the Stars (26-37-63 in 71 games). The restricted free agent spent part of the NHL lockout playing in Germany but has been in his native British Columbia training for the past month.
Nieuwendyk ruled out a return Saturday when Dallas host the St. Louis Blues at American Airlines Center and said Monday against the Columbus Blue Jackets is a more realistic possibility when the Stars begin a two-game road trip that also will take them to St. Louis.
"Everybody wanted what was best for Jamie and for our hockey club and that was to have him back with the guys. I couldn't be happier," Nieuwendyk said. "I see how hard our team battles here in the first 3 1/2 games of the season, and to add a player like him to the mix is going to be really good for our club."