The Dallas Stars have used their dynamic duo of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin as the leading force of their offense since the 2013-2014 season. Over their first three seasons together, they were two of the top scorers in the league. Dallas made two playoff appearances and Benn won an Art Ross trophy. Last season, however, things changed. Both Benn and Seguin came off offseason injury rehab and struggled to put up the points that Stars fans had become accustomed to. Despite playing all 82 games, Seguin only collected 72 points and Benn, who skated in 77, put up a disappointing 69 (both were lowest amounts since lockout-shortened 2012-2013).
What really sticks out is not the total points compared to past years, but the change in points-per-game (p/gm). From 2013-2014 to 2015-2016, Benn’s p/pg was .98, 1.06 (Art Ross), and 1.09. Seguin registered 1.05, 1.08, and 1.01. The two dropped dramatically in 2016-2017 to .90 and .88 respectively. What happened?
The best comparison is 2016-2017 and 2014-2015 because both were non-playoff years. In the latter, Benn and Seguin powered Dallas with 1.06 and 1.08 p/gm averages. Unfortunately, Seguin got injured in the waning weeks of the season and though Benn brought home the scoring title, the Stars fell seven points shy of a postseason spot. Fast forward to last season where Dallas missed the playoffs by 15 points. Blame the back end for sure, but there is something to be said for Benn and Seguin not being the lethal force that Dallas has leaned on for years. The team only gave up three more goals last season than it did in 2014-2015, yet they missed the playoffs by more than double a number of points. Dropping a point per game average .16 (Benn) and .20 (Seguin) equals a drop in 13.1 and 16.4 points. Just half of those ~30 points could’ve led to a five or six game boost in the standings, especially so since the team lost eleven in overtime. The Stars at least hang onto the playoff bubble until April instead of being mathematically eliminated in mid-March.
People forget that Jamie Benn won the 2014-2015 Art Ross on injured hips. Of course, every injury is different, but I’m curious if a core muscle surgery in the summer before 2016-2017 really hampered Jamie’s performance or not. Tyler Seguin dealt with a severe ankle injury over the Spring of 2016 and he had a tough time putting up points the following season as well. Oddly, Benn missed the only five games between the two last year. Were the injuries actually a major factor on them? It’s interesting to ponder what exactly led to such a disappointing campaign.
All things considered, an injury-free offseason and a coaching change should set the expectation that the duo returns to old form. However, with the addition of big-time playmaker Alex Radulov, the trio should have few issues blowing open any defense in the league. Jamie and Tyler have shown that they are capable of winning games by themselves. Now with so many positives around them, the top duo has no reason not to propel the Stars into the playoff picture. If another lackluster season occurs it can be assumed that changes will be made, starting with Tyler Seguin moving on from Dallas after his contract ends next summer.
*Thanks to NHL.com/stats for recording all the numbers.