While it’s no guarantee he will play this season or make the team out of training camp, the Toronto Maple Leafs have bolstered their defensive lineup with the signing of defenseman Simon Benoit to a one-year contract, valued at $775,000. Benoit, previously with the Anaheim Ducks, brings a gritty and physical presence to the team’s blue line.
Benoit’s offensive contributions are limited, but his reputation as a robust and tenacious defensive defenseman precedes him. Having not received a qualifying offer from Anaheim, Benoit now seeks to make his mark in Toronto. His style of play is characterized by hard hits, blocked shots, and a willingness to engage in the physical aspects of the game. These were all attributes Brad Treliving said he wanted to add to the team when he took over as general manager.
Last season, Benoit made his presence felt with an impressive 216 hits, ranking 21st across the league. He is projected to assume a role similar to Jordie Benn’s during the past season. Despite his potential contributions, cracking the Maple Leafs’ roster out of training camp might prove challenging, especially given the team’s salary cap constraints.
At 24 years of age, Benoit boasts an NHL resume of 137 career regular-season games, all of which were played with the Anaheim Ducks. In the previous season, he suited up for 78 games, tallying three goals and seven assists. Standing at 6’3″ and weighing 208 pounds, Benoit’s physicality and defensive prowess make him an asset on the ice.
The Maple Leafs Still Have Questions on Their Blue Line
The signing comes with certain uncertainties, as the Leafs’ roster is currently structured around players like Mark Giordano and Timothy Liljegren. While Benoit’s league-minimum cap hit makes him an attractive option as a seventh defenseman, the team’s salary cap limitations could impact his final role. With a solid one-year deal in place, Benoit’s future may also hinge on his waiver status, given his experience of shouldering significant NHL minutes last season.
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