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Stars sign C Benn to $26M, 5-year contract

DALLAS (AP) - Jamie Benn and the Dallas Stars agreed to a $26.25 million, five-year contract on Thursday night

The All-Star center gets $5.25 million each season, with the first year of the deal pro-rated because of the NHL lockout. Dallas announced the move during its game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The 23-year-old Benn was a restricted free agent who set career highs with 26 goals, 37 assists and 63 points for the Stars last season.

``We know how important he is to our hockey club and at the end of the day, it's the right thing,'' Dallas general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said. ``It's good for our hockey club, it's great for Jamie.''

Benn played 19 games for the Hamburg Freezers in Germany during the lockout this season, compiling seven goals and 20 points before returning home to British Columbia in December.

``Sometimes these things take a little time, and it's a process,'' said Nieuwendyk, whose team opened 2-1-0. ``I've seen how hard our team battles here in the first 3 1/2 games of this season and to add a player like him to the mix is going to be good for our club.''

Benn is expected to arrive in Dallas early Friday morning, but he probably won't be in uniform Saturday night against St. Louis. Nieuwendyk is hoping Benn will be ready for the following game.

``He's on his way here (Thursday night). It's a matter of immigration and getting a work visa, but we're hopeful he'll be ready for Monday in Columbus,'' Nieuwendyk said. ``He needs to be back in that locker room with his teammates and (Friday) he will be.''

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