Rabid Habs

Who is Jordie Benn?

The trading season is in full swing, and Marc Bergevin’s first move was what Habs fans have come to expect from their general manager. In this transaction, the Canadiens acquired defenseman Jordie Benn from the Dallas Stars in exchange for Greg Pateryn and a 2017 4th round pick.

In a move that has the Bergevin blueprint, the Canadiens added a steady roster force in exchange for a young, somewhat unproven defenseman and a late round pick. Benn carries a cap-hit of $1.1 million until the end of the 2019-20 season. Once your heart rate has lowered after realizing it’s not Jamie Benn, the trade still makes a ton of sense. Here’s what I think the Canadiens are getting in Jordie Benn:

Shot Blocker:

The shot block seems to be Benn’s calling card. In 58 games this season, Benn has blocked 113 shots and is poised to set a career high (121). In 482 career games, Benn has blocked 302 shots. Regardless of your opinion of the shot block as a statistic, there is something to be said about how guys like Benn are seen in the locker room. I know that’s not a measurable statistic and Canadiens fans are probably tired of hearing about locker room politics, but it’s something the Canadiens really want to create.

The Canadiens defense already blocks a ton of shots, and Benn finds himself in second among Canadiens in blocks this season. One factor that separates Benn from the top three shot blockers already on the Canadiens is time on ice, as Benn has averaged about 18 minutes per game. Weber, Petry and Emelin are all over the 20 minute mark when it comes to average ice time per game. Look for Benn to block a ton of rubber in his tenure as a Canadien.

Physical Play

One trait that has been attached to Jordie Benn over the last 24 hours has been rugged. If we’re basing this claim off of his beard, I would agree wholeheartedly. If this conclusion is made about his desire to throw the body, I think we should pump the brakes a bit.

I’m not saying Benn is reluctant to throw the body, but I don’ think he’s going to give Emelin and Weber any sort of competition for the Habs’ lead in hits. In 58 games this year, Benn has only registered 52 hits. If you compare his work on the Stars with what the Habs have done so far this year, Benn would be tied with Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty; two players who aren’t exactly physically dominant players.

I think the Habs’ new defenseman falls somewhere in the middle of this spectrum. He’s not going to hit as much as Weber and Emelin, but I do think he adds a bit of grit on the back end. Benn isn’t going to lay you out, but I’d look for him to add a little more toughness around the net and along the boards.

So, who is he?

For what it’s worth, Jordie Benn seems to subscribe to the old-school method of defense. Far less proactive than, say, a Jeff Petry, Benn wants to force players to the perimeter and block shots before they get to the net.

After looking at game tape and stats, I don’t think a comparison to Josh Gorges is too far off. Canadiens fans seldom remember that Gorges was traded because of his contract, not his play. He certainly slowed down towards the end of his tenure as a Canadien, but Gorges was a serviceable defenseman. Benn, luckily, doesn’t have the same unpalatable contract that Gorges had with the Canadiens.

But with a new team comes a new defensive structure and, potentially, a new role. Maybe Coach Claude Julien’s system tweaks the way Benn plays the game. Maybe he plays on his off-side, as he has in Dallas this season.

Maybe another defenseman is on the way out, and another is on the way in.

Follow Ian on Twitter @BoisvertIan


One Comment

  1. Bay Bye

    February 28, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    what we get is a player who is shorter and lighter then Pateryn and also 3 years older.MB seems to want to make us older and how is that suppose to help us down the road. Benn does not bring a significant improvement and in some ways a slight drop in Pateryn’s defensive play. Pateryn was young and mold-able and will be around long after Benn is gone