Sheldon Keefe all smiles after a win
Photo credit: NHL

Sheldon Keefe blown away by the performances of two unlikely stars in win over Seattle

Published January 22, 2024 at 9:26
BY RYAN SMITHERAM

Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Nick Robertson was a surprising addition to the Leafs lineup yesterday, replacing Bobby McMann. Robertson had not played since January 15th against the Detroit Red Wings, but with the Leafs playing in a back-to-back and McMann nursing a nagging injury, things worked out for the former second-round pick to get back into the lineup.

Robertson scored minutes into the second period and would eventually be credited with the game-winning goal. It was Robertson's fourth goal in his last six games as he continues to battle for playing time. His efforts did not go unnoticed by Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe.

"I thought Nick was excellent tonight. It was what I was hoping for with him and Timmins coming in It was important to get some fresh legs and energy in here today. With Nick, in particular, you know he is going to give you everything he has. All of our young guys today I thought Robertson was excellent."

Robertson wasn't the only one to impress Keefe last night as defenseman Simon Benoit also garnered some praise from the Leafs' bench boss.


"He just keeps getting better and better and better. It is fun to watch. He is a guy who has put in a ton of work. He put some good shots at the net tonight, too. Physical, competitive, a presence for us, a big part of the penalty kill, which did a good job for us tonight. Benny has been tremendous and very consistent."

Benoit, who was signed to a one-year deal late in the off-season, was meant to be a depth option for the Leafs but has become somewhat of a mainstay on the blueline. Benoit has played his way ahead of the likes of Mark Giordano, Timothy Liljegren, William Lagesson and Conor Timmins.

In 31 games with the Leafs, Benoit has just a lone assist, but has 88 hits and 49 blocked shots to go along with an average of 15:40 per game. Both Benoit and Robertson will be RFAs at season's end and while no one is sure of Robertson's role just yet, it appears that Benoit has carved out one that is getting bigger and bigger by the game.

POLL
January 22   |   725 answers
Sheldon Keefe blown away by the performances of two unlikely stars in win over Seattle

Who was the Leafs' best player in their win over Seattle?

Simon Benoit23031.7 %
Nick Robertson14620.1 %
Ilya Samsonov31243 %
Other375.1 %
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