Benn, 34, split last season between the Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets, recording ten points in 39 games. The veteran defenseman has now played in 556 regular season contests, not bad for an undrafted talent out of the BCHL. Benn got his first taste of professional hockey with the Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL in 2008 and is a success story to show every overlooked prospect that is committed to the minor league grind. He spent two full seasons in the ECHL and nearly three more in the AHL before finally breaking through with the Dallas Stars. Though he may have originally been brought into that organization because of his younger brother’s emergence as a star, Benn has certainly proven that he is a capable NHL player in his own right.
Now for Minnesota, he joins a defensive group that looks a little different than recent years. Gone are Ryan Suter and Carson Soucy, meaning there will be plenty of minutes to go around. The team brought in Alex Goligoski, Dmitry Kulikov, and Jon Merrill to fill out the depth chart, the former being a teammate of Benn’s during his time in Dallas. That group, plus prospect Calen Addison, will likely be moved around through training camp to find the right mix for opening day.
Cheap fringe players like Benn are all the Wild can really do until they have some certainty regarding Kirill Kaprizov. The team has plenty of cap space, but Kaprizov’s hit could vary wildly depending on how many years he signs for. This contract doesn’t really change things, given it could be entirely buried in the minor leagues if necessary and represents just $150K over the league minimum. It’s just a valuable depth piece for a team that is hoping to go further than the first round this year.