Many Reasons to Love This Edition of the Toronto Maple Leafs Despite Their Flaws

Despite their inconsistencies and, at times, infuriating play, the Leafs have had many feel-good stories throughout the year that make them a likable team to cheer for. Examples of resilience and grit can be found everywhere, which hasn't always been the case with this team.

St. Louis Blues v Toronto Maple Leafs
St. Louis Blues v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages
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Afterthoughts McMann and Benoit Lead Leafs Underdog Stories

Bobby McMann and Simon Benoit were afterthoughts at the start of the Leafs season. Neither player was in the lineup on opening night.

McMann started the year with the Toronto Marlies, while Benoit was far down the depth chart as insurance on defense.

Injuries and lack of performance from other players on the roster gave each of them an opportunity. They have not looked back.

McMann is a few weeks removed from potentially losing his spot in the lineup to becoming an indispensable part of the forward lines.

All of this after going undrafted and putting in his time in the minors. He has proven to be reliable among the top nine and has contributed 14 goals in only 48 games, good for fifth most on the team.

Benoit has played in 54 games. He has played physical and blocked shots. When the Leafs defense was besieged by injuries, he capably filled in.

The recent additions of Ilya Lyubushkin and Joel Edmundson have seen Benoit occasionally bumped from the lineup, but his return to the ice coincided with a strong defensive effort against the Capitals.

His underlying stats are not always impressive, but he manages to be effective. So much so, that the Leafs recently signed him to an extension at a low cap-hit. Security for the player at a reasonable rate for the team.

These two underdog stories are worth following as the postseason approaches.