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Center or wing, Stars captain Jamie Benn will get it done

The 32-year-old flourished after making the switch to center late last season, but regardless of where he plays, his best hockey happens in the postseason

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

Jamie Benn

Position: Left Wing/Center

Height and weight: 6-foot-2, 210 pounds

Age: 32

Contract: Fifth year of an eight-year deal that has a $9.5 million AAV. Actual salary is $8.5 million for this year.

Key stat(s): In 59 career playoff games, Benn has 49 points (19 goals, 30 assists). While Benn's regular season offensive numbers have been declining, the Stars do believe he's a much more dangerous player once they get him to the postseason.

Recapping last season

Video: DAL@DET: Benn forces turnover and buries OT winner

While Benn had his ups and downs, he seemed to hit his stride in April when he played more center than wing. Benn had 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 17 games and was plus-10 in April, and really seemed to enjoy the extra ice time and extra responsibility. The Stars also went 10-5-2 in April, so they were more effective when Benn was on his game. Benn finished fifth on the Stars in points (35) and was tied for second in plus-minus at plus-13. He was fourth in shots on goal at 124, but just 12th in shooting percentage at 8.9 percent.

Going forward

Video: CAR@DAL: Robertson sets up Benn's overtime winner

It's a real challenge figuring out where Benn fits this upcoming season. Is he a third line center, and does that mean Radek Faksa needs to move to left wing and Denis Gurianov will play right wing on a line that could be a bit more aggressive offensively? Would that be a good thing for the team? Or should the coaches use Benn as a left wing on a line with Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov and trust that a great "second" line could really explode offensively while a third line with Faksa possibly centering Joel Kiviranta and Gurianov could also be pretty creative?

Benn's minutes dropped to 16:26 (10th on the team) two seasons ago and went back up to 17:47 last season with injuries to Seguin and Radulov. Should he settle back into the 16-minute range this season with the thought that he'd be fresher for the playoffs if they give him more rest? It's a lot to think about.

One thing is for sure, Benn still is the leader of this dressing room. Players love him, coaches trust him, and he can change a game with his attitude. He has a history of being better in the playoffs, and that's sort of how the Stars are building this season. Yes, they want to be good all year, but they want to be better at the end. Can Benn be a key to that?

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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.

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