What better way to welcome Jordie Benn to the ‘Peg than with a good ol’ player spotlight. Winnipeg Jets fans know that if the team intends to make any meaningful run at the Stanley Cup, they needed to strengthen the defensive core at the deadline. While Benn may not have been the most sought-after target, shipping off a sixth-round pick for a defenseman with over a decade in the league is an absolute bargain. Combine that with the fact that he’s an unrestricted free agent and this makes this a low-risk, high-reward deal for the Jets. But before we break down Benn’s game, let’s get to know the newest member of the Jets.
Benn took a less conventional route to the NHL than most. The British Columbia native went undrafted and elected to stay in his home province to play in the BCHL for the Victoria Salsa and Victoria Grizzlies. Fortunately, Jordie got to link up with his brother, Jamie, for a season before he got drafted by the Dallas Stars. In 2008, Benn signed his first professional contract with the Manitoba Moose. Although he didn’t make the Moose’s squad, he did earn himself an invite to the Vancouver Canucks’ training camp. Refusing to give up, the hard-nosed defensemen went back to Victoria to play a season with the Salmon Kings of the ECHL. Never letting his confidence waiver, Benn grinded his way from the Allen Americans of the CHL to the Texas Stars of the AHL. That’s when everything came full circle and Jordie and Jamie linked up again. This time though, it was for the Dallas Stars.
Benn played in the Lone Star State for nearly six full seasons, boasting a career-best +16 plus/minus in his sophomore year. Unfortunately, the brother-to-brother connection ended in 2017 when Jordie was dealt to Montreal. There was certainly some good to come out of the trade. During his final season in Montreal, Benn racked up a career-high in points and earned himself a two-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks. There are two things every hockey player dreams of, playing alongside their sibling and playing in front of their hometown crowd. The only reason Benn accomplished these two rare feats was that he worked hard, never quit, and embraced his role. The Jets are expecting that same dedication and discipline when he makes his debut for Winnipeg.
Similar to his role in Vancouver, Benn won’t be asked to be a puck-rushing defenseman or a power-play specialist. He’s going to be trusted with bringing a strong defensive presence, getting the puck to the talented forwards, and contributing on the penalty kill. While it’s still uncertain where Benn will be slotted, there is certainly a chance he can challenge Derek Forbort for a spot in the top four. In all likelihood, he will serve as an immediate upgrade on the third pairing and challenge Logan Stanley for his spot on the depth chart. Winnipeg has struggled defensively this year, so coach Paul Maurice will certainly welcome Benn’s 46 blocks and 14 hits. It should also be noted that with comparable ice time, Benn only has 15 giveaways, while Forbort has 35 and Demelo has 29.
The Jets may not have made the biggest splash at the deadline, but they certainly got deeper and stronger for a minimal price. Winnipeg currently sits in second place of a North Division primed for the taking. So let’s hope the Jets believe in carpe diem because this could be their year if they do.