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Stars lock up Jamie Benn with eight-year extension

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

For the second straight year, the Dallas Stars made news at the PM Standley Motorcars Party In The Park. Last year it was the trade for Patrick Sharp and Stephen Johns. This year it was a contract extension for captain Jamie Benn .

"Eight more years," Stars GM Jim Nill announced to fans Friday night at Klyde Warren Park after being asked about the status of contract talks with Benn.

Eight more years at $76 million for an average of $9.5 million per season. The new contract takes effect in 2017-18 and runs through 2024-25 for Benn, who will be in the final year of his current deal this coming season.

The negotiations, which were able to begin July 1, took about two weeks to complete.

"The negotiations went very well. Rich Evans, Jamie's agent, we had a great relationship through it all," Nill said. "In the end, Jamie wants to be here. We want him here. The important thing is he wanted to make sure it was a winning franchise while he is here and we talked about the game plan. He bought into it. It worked out well for all parties."

Benn, who turns 27 on Monday, would have been an unrestricted free agent next summer. Now, he's committed to Dallas long-term.

"The Stars are the only organization I know and Dallas is home to me," Benn said in a statement released by the Stars. "In working with the Gaglardi family and Jim Nill, they have made it clear that they are dedicated to winning, and winning the right way. I'm happy to commit to that process for eight more years. My teammates and I value the passion and dedication that we receive from Stars fans and we're looking forward to getting this season started."

When the contract kicks in for the 2017-18 season, Benn will be one of the highest-paid players in the NHL, and that's no surprise. He's racked up an impressive list of accomplishments: First Team NHL All-Star (2016, 2014); Art Ross Trophy (2015); Hart Trophy Finalist (2016); Ted Lindsay Award Finalist (2016, 2015); Second Team NHL All-Star (2015).

He's registered 448 points (192 goals, 256 assists) in 508 games. In the playoffs, he's put up 20 points (9 goals, 11 assists) in 19 games.

"When you are building a franchise there are certain important players and he is as good as there is," Nill said. "He is one of the top players in the NHL, one of the top forwards. He's in the prime of his career, and he is the leader of your team. And he's a great person on top of it. We are very fortunate to have him in Dallas."

Although Benn is one of the top players in the game and his pay will reflect that, Nill said that $9.5 million per year average was also about how Benn fit into the Stars' plans moving forward.

"This wasn't about the value of Jamie Benn , more it was about Jamie Benn and the team, and how we're going to build that," Nill said. "He wanted to make sure that there were the funds, the resources that are there to keep this a good team. That's what we talked about and at that number, it works for both parties, and it gives us a chance to continue to be an elite team in the league."

Benn was scheduled to be on hand Friday night at Klyde Warren Park but was unable to attend after undergoing surgery in Philadelphia Thursday for a core muscle injury. Nill said Benn suffered the injury while training and that the surgery was a success. Recovery time is six weeks.

"It's kind of a stomach pull. There's no tears or anything else. They just went in and repaired that," Nill said. "He'll be up and at it within three, four days and start training again, but full recovery the doctors mentioned it's about six weeks."

Once six weeks is up, Benn will be evaluated, and a decision will be made on whether he'll participate in the World Cup of Hockey. Benn has been selected to play for Canada at the tournament, which begins in September.

"His goal is to still play in that World Cup," Nill said. "We're going to look at his rehab in six weeks and make a determination around Sept. 1 to see where he's at and then make a decision whether he should go there or not."

Notes: Seguin doing well; Nichushkin negotiations

*Stars GM Jim Nill said forward Tyler Seguin is doing well as he rehabs from a calf muscle injury that kept him out of the lineup for the Stars' final 11 games of last season's playoffs.

"I've been talking to Tyler. He's been skating and seems to be having no troubles," Nill said. "Little bit of stiffness there, but he feels comfortable and should be ready for the World Cup."

*Nill said he is in the process of negotiating with forward Valeri Nichushkin , who is a restricted free agent.

"We've talked to his agent," Nill said. "We've exchanged offers and just going through the process."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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