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Maple Leafs’ Simon Benoit: One of the Best Surprises This Season

Although the Toronto Maple Leafs lost early in the Stanley Cup playoffs, there were some good surprises. Why was Simon Benoit one of them?

When Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving first signed Simon Benoit, he was expected to serve as blue-line insurance. Initially, it seemed Benoit was destined to spend the season with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL, only to be recalled if injuries plagued the main roster. Given his performance last season with the Anaheim Ducks, many fans and analysts were skeptical about his potential impact on the team.

However, what a pleasant surprise he turned out to be. Benoit’s journey this past season has proven to be one of the most fun surprises for the Maple Leafs.

Benoit Came to the Maple Leafs Expecting to Earn a Full-Time Spot

Benoit entered the Maple Leafs training camp with determined confidence. Despite his underwhelming stats from the previous season with the Ducks, he showed his huge work ethic. While it took part of the season, he finally earned a spot on the team’s roster.

Related: Is Past-His-Prime Mark Giordano Still Valuable to the Maple Leafs?

His physical play and reliability addressed a longstanding need for the Maple Leafs. He hit people and played a simple game, providing much-needed grit and a tough defensive presence. Benoit’s mentality was likened to an underdog with a bone he wouldn’t let go of. This tenaciousness has driven him to excel beyond expectations, solidifying his place on the second pairing alongside Jake McCabe.

During the Season, Benoit Got Better and Better

Throughout the season, Benoit’s contributions were vital. His defensive metrics ranked him high (in the 91st percentile) among NHL defensemen for his defensive play. His average ice time of 16 minutes and 22 seconds per game provided his team with solid minutes and underscored his importance to the team. While there is room for improvement in his offensive game, Benoit’s defensive prowess and physicality have made him an invaluable asset for the Maple Leafs.

Simon Benoit Toronto Maple Leafs

As the season progressed, it became increasingly clear that the Maple Leafs should consider extending Benoit’s contract. His unexpected rise and consistent performance made him vital to the team’s future. Benoit’s cultural fit within the team and continuous improvement were worth keeping around long-term.

Finally, during the season, the team announced it had signed the physical defenceman to a three-year, $4.05-million contract extension. The extension carries an average annual value (AAV) of $1.35 million. Locking Benoit into a long-term deal was a reward for his hard work. At the same time, it ensured that the Maple Leafs retained a player who had proven to be a critical component of their success this season.

Congratulations to Benoit for His Solid Contribution to the Team

Benoit, who joined the Maple Leafs as a free agent on a one-year deal ahead of this season, has now solidified his place as a reliable everyday NHL player. The 25-year-old undrafted defenceman from Laval, Quebec, has earned his place on the team’s roster.

Benoit expressed his gratitude for the contract extension, recognizing it as a reward for his hard work and perseverance in proving himself as a dependable NHL player. His journey from an undrafted player to securing a multi-year deal with one of the league’s most storied franchises underscores his determination and resilience.

For the Maple Leafs, his extension gives them a key piece of their defensive lineup, ensuring that Benoit’s physicality and reliability remain a staple on their blue line for the next three seasons.

Related: Maple Leafs Bargain Solution: Players Like Barclay Goodrow

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. gcmgome

    June 21, 2024 at 12:49 am

    Benoit did play a lot with McCabe on what could be called the 2nd pairing but he would not be a 2nd pairing defender on a team with a decent D corps. He is however exactly what a cap strapped team needs to anchor the 3rd pairing.
    There is a lot to like about Benoit’s game. He uses his size, speed and reach effectively while seldom ever getting knocked off of the puck. He can also be an effective minute muncher, averaging around 20 minutes per game later in the season and in the playoffs.
    Benoit’s chemistry with McCabe should be viewed as a nice in game situational option but not as his regular partner. He needs to play his natural left side with a natural righty partner. As more of a puck launcher than a shooter, the 5 points he put up over 64 games could easily be tripled if he is coached to his strengths.

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