Since I can’t sit here and talk about the NHL and NHLPA’s ongoing CBA negotiations everyday (spoiler alert: I do it anyway) because it’s just too depressing; I’ll focus on two young rising stars in the NHL who remain restricted free agents without new contracts. Those two are forward Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars and forward Evander Kane of the Winnipeg Jets.
Last season Jamie Benn, a 23-year old left winger, became an assistant captain for the Dallas Stars when captain Brenden Morrow went down with an injury. It showed the team, coaches and franchise had faith in a young player to be a leader. I believe one day Benn will not only be the captain of the Stars but also the face of the franchise. Bold prediction, I know. I also believe the Stars feel the same way and the only reason he remains unsigned is because many teams are waiting to sign their big name players coming off of rookie contracts because of the uncertainty of the CBA (see you just can’t get away from it, so sad). One of the big disagreements between the NHL and NHLPA is length of restricted free agency and contracts, which directly effects players like Benn.
Benn had 26 goals, 37 assists for a 63 point total in 71 games last season, while playing predominately on the Stars’ top two lines. Benn is young, has a combination of speed and physicality that makes him the definition of an NHL power forward and he has one heck of a shot which he showcased at last year’s All Star Game Skill Challenge by winning the accuracy shooting competition. Check out the video here and I apologize for Pierre McGuire and Jeremy Roenick’s ramblings.
The Stars can’t and I believe won’t let Benn get away, he’s a franchise player. It is my belief that once the CBA is worked out, if Benn hasn’t signed by then, he will most certainly be signed by the Stars swiftly. I haven’t seen or heard anything at this time that would indicate any other turnout.
That brings us to another power forward whom I’m not so sure will resign with his current team, the Winnipeg Jets left winger Evander Kane. He was selected 4th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers, who relocated to become the Winnipeg Jets because we’ve now seen twice that hockey doesn’t belong in Atlanta.
Last season Kane had his best season as a pro recording 30 goals, 27 assists, which gave him a 57 point total in 74 games to go a long with 173 hits. So the kid can score and bang with the best of them. Not bad for a someone who just turned 21 years old and can now legally drink a beer in the majority of cities he plays in.
Back in July it was rumored Kane was unhappy in Winnipeg and wanted out. Some people even went as far to say he wasn’t liked in Winnipeg and ran out on restaurant tabs. I swear you can’t make this stuff up even if you tried.
However it has also been reported that Kane and the Jets are working on a contract similar to those of Phil Kessel, Logan Couture, James Neal and John Tavares. They all make around 5.4 million dollars a year. That’s a hefty raise for a player who made $900,000 last year but also could’ve made an additional $2.2 million in potential bonuses.
So what’s the problem in Winnipeg? Why hasn’t Kane signed? Could it be the possible rocky relationship he has with the city and does he really not want to be there? Because if Winnipeg is prepared to make him a rich man as it’s been reported I don’t know why he hasn’s signed yet. Maybe, like the Stars and Benn, both sides are waiting to see how the CBA plays out (there it is again). I can say one thing, potential maturity issues aside, if he doesn’t resign in Winnipeg he would look real good in a Boston Bruins jersey. Especially after he did this to Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke. Yes, he’d look good in a lot of team’s jerseys but better in the spoked B in my “unbiased opinion”.
Jamie Benn and Evander Kane, two young guns who remain without contracts and it’s potentially because of the ongoing CBA negotiations. Just another reason to love CBA negotiations and another reason why we have to keep talking about it. In the words of Montreal Canadiens fans whenever Bruins defensemen Zdeno Chara has the puck, “BOO”.
Feel free to follow Billy Bryson on Twitter @BillyBrysonNHL and as always we welcome comments.