Jamie Benn, Stars agree to five-year deal

Harry How

Heralded young center earns $26.25 million contract.

The Dallas Stars announced Thursday night that they have signed center Jamie Benn to a five-year contract worth $5.25 million per season. The contract totals $26.25 million for the 23-year-old, and brings the end to a protracted contract negotiation that had kept Benn out of the team's first three games. A restricted free agent when the lockout commenced, Benn did not have a contract and could not play until this deal was finalized.

In three seasons with the Stars, Benn has established himself as one of the game's top young stars. In 2011-12, Benn scored 26 goals, recorded 37 assists, and led the Stars in game-winning goals. General manager Joe Nieuwendyk, in announcing the new deal, called Benn the cornerstone of the franchise:

"Jamie Benn has proven in his short, but very productive NHL career, that he is not only this franchise's cornerstone player, but also an emerging superstar in the league," said General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk. "We believe that Jamie has the necessary tools to continue his growth and lead this team into the next great era of Dallas Stars hockey."

Without Benn, the Stars have managed to go 2-1-0 in their first three games. However, the six goals scored by Dallas in that trio of contests ranks near the bottom of the Western Conference and far behind division favorites San Jose and Anaheim.

Dallas faces the Chicago Blackhawks tonight. No word yet on whether Benn will be available when the team hosts St. Louis Saturday evening.

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