A core muscle injury that required mid-July surgery to repair put Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn’s status for the World Cup in question, and Tuesday came the news that Benn is officially out of the tournament.
Hockey Canada has announced that Benn, 27, will not be able to take part in the World Cup, despite the fact that his originally reported recovery timeline made it possible that he could have been healthy in time for the competition. Benn had previously said that his focus was to play in the World Cup, adding he believed the surgery would be slightly easier to come back from than the double hip surgery he had undergone during the previous off-season. The injury was said to need a six-week rehab process, but after re-evaluation, Benn will not be able to participate.
But fear not, Canadian hockey fans, as Benn, the NHL’s highest-scoring player over the past two seasons, has been replaced by the 2015-16 post-season’s leading point-getter, Logan Couture.
“We are excited to add Logan to Team Canada,” Canada’s World Cup GM Doug Armstrong said. “He has developed into a top player in the NHL, and his versatility will benefit our group of forwards. In making this decision the management group consulted with our coaching staff and determined that Logan was the best fit to help fill the role that Jamie was projected to play on Team Canada.”
Couture, 27, doesn’t automatically fill the pure power-forward scoring role that Benn would take, but the San Jose Sharks center does offer the strength in all three zones, something that would have made Benn incredibly important to the roster. However, this likely means there will be some shuffling in terms of position.
Benn, who was part of the first 16-player roster announcement, plays the wing, whereas Couture primarily plays up the middle. However, if Armstrong is suggesting that the Couture-Benn swap is one-for-one that likely means Couture will get to try his hand playing on one of the top two forward units. It could even mean Couture suits up alongside Tyler Seguin, who is one half of the Stars’ scoring duo alongside Benn.
Couture is coming off of an outstanding post-season for the Sharks in which he led the playoffs with 30 points and finished third with 10 goals, and it could be a sign of great things for Couture as he enters the prime years of his career.
The 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons were the two highest scoring seasons of his career in terms of points per game — .83 and .82 points per game, respectively — and Couture tore up the playoffs, contributing 1.25 points per game. If Couture can replicate that kind of production through the two-week tournament, the loss of Benn will almost entirely forgotten.
For Couture, this represents his first time representing Canada on a major international stage since being drafted ninth overall by the Sharks in 2007. Before his draft year, he had suited up for Canada in Under-17 and Under-18 action, but he has not played for the national team at the World Junior Championship, World Championship or Olympics.
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