Here's what the Leafs are getting in 24-year-old Simon Benoit

Published August 28, 2023 at 12:02

When the Leafs announced on Monday that they had signed 24-year-old Simon Benoit to a 1-year contract, one of the more common reactions was; "who?". Benoit is not a household name. His name was not announced on draft day back in 2017. Instead, he had to work his way up through the AHL ranks following his junior career in the QMJHL. Still, he brings a lot of intangibles to the Leafs and should not be overlooked.

Benoit has spent his entire NHL career with the Anaheim Ducks, but was not tendered a qualifying offer this summer and was not re-signed by the Ducks, allowing him to test the free agent market. In the end, he liked the opportunity that the Leafs had available for him and, from the Leafs' perspective, they brought in a young defenseman who possesses almost every trait they were looking for on the back end this summer.

The Laval, PQ native is not going to dazzle anyone with his offensive skills. With just 4 goals in his 137-game NHL career, he wasn't brought in to provide offense. His value to the team comes in a different form. Benoit is a big, nasty blueliner who loves to be physical and use his body to separate the opposition from the puck. He also takes away shooting lanes and blocks shots at a pretty solid rate. He's also known to do this every now and again:

Benoit posted 216 hits last season in 78 games with the Ducks, averaging over 19 minutes per game. He blocked 128 shots and contributed 10 points to the cause, so it's not as though he's entirely void of being able to chip in on offense, but it certainly won't be with any regularity.

The 6'2, 200-plus pound blueliner has one purpose in Toronto and one purpose only - to make life miserable for the opposition. His primary focus will be on clearing the front of the net, plugging up shooting lanes, getting in front of puck, making guys look over their shoulder and dispensing some on-ice justice when the situation calls for it.

The Leafs currently boast a left side that consists of Morgan Rielly, Jake McCabe and Mark Giordano. Obviously, one of these things are not like the other. While Rielly and McCabe still have plenty of runway in front of them, Giordano, who will be 40 this season, does not have much left to give to the game. The NHL's all-time shot blocking leader is still able to contribute, but nowhere near the level of effectiveness that he was able to in years past. It stands to reason that Gio will be given a lot more nights off this year, with Benoit expected to be the beneficiary.

Of the 7 defensemen who are coming back this year for the Leafs, Benoit's 216 hits last season would have led all of them by a pretty significant margin. The next highest would be Timothy Liljegren's 107 hits, followed by Morgan Rielly's 70 hits, so there's certainly a need for what Benoit brings to the table.

We knew that Brad Treliving wanted to make the Leafs' blueline a little tougher and a little more physical. He's done just that today and he didn't have to pay a premium to get it. Benoit's 1-year deal comes in at just $775K.
August 28   |   254 answers
Here's what the Leafs are getting in 24-year-old Simon Benoit

How many fighting majors will we see from Simon Benoit this season in Toronto?

0-1249.4 %
2-39637.8 %
4-57830.7 %
More than 55622 %
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