The Toronto Maple Leafs Need to Keep Simon Benoit

Pittsburgh Penguins v Toronto Maple Leafs
Pittsburgh Penguins v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs defensive core has been taking hit after hit this season (both in the literal and figurative sense). Almost every defenceman for the Leafs has missed games for one reason or another.

One consistent factor that continues to impress is free agent signing Simon Benoit. The 6-foot-3, hard-hitting blueliner has demonstrated a strong work ethic during his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and shown a commitment to continuous improvement.

The game is moving faster than ever and Benoit looks as if he can keep pace.

More importantly, Benoit demonstrates something that few Leafs have, toughness. Not only is he a pretty solid defenseman when compared to his teammates, but Benoit is also a tough customer who knows how to finish hits and if needed step up to defend his teammates. Given all of this, it is a surprise that Benoit went undrafted before he signed with the San Diego Gulls (AHL) for a one-year deal. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs Need to Keep Simon Benoit

So, what do we do with Benoit? By the looks of it, the Klingberg saga in Toronto has all but come to an end.

Currently, the Toronto Maple Leafs have somewhat solidified their Top 5 for now with Rielly, Giordano, Brodie, McCabe, and Liljegren all filling those voids (for now).

There is still one final spot to be filled. Recently, both Connor Timmins and William Lagesson have been scratched in place of Benoit - and to be honest, I’m not against it.

The way I see it, the Leafs should run with the following pairings for the time being, that is until they trade for a Top 2 defenseman at the deadline. The pairings are as follows (do you have your pen and paper to take notes, Keefe?);

Rielly - Brodie

Giordano - Liljegren

McCabe - Benoit

Rielly and Brodie work well together. Brodie tends to cover for Rielly when “Mo” pinches and goes on an offensive rush. The same is true for Giordano and Liljegren with the former playing a more shut-down role in the pair. Finally, McCabe and Benoit. Both are physical players who know how to shut down other teams' offensive chances.

According to Hockey Reference, Benoit and McCabe lead the team in hits with a combined total of 135 hits.

The thing I enjoy the most about both of their style of play is how simple they keep their games when playing a limited role. Simple hockey is mistake-free hockey.

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With all this said, we will have to see what Toronto Maple Leafs and Brad Treliving decide to do as we enter into the latter half of the season. While the defensive core is okay at the moment, it will not work in the playoffs without acquiring a Top 2 defenseman. For the time being, I would keep Benoit in the lineup and allow him to play with McCabe and then gradually “demote” him to the playoff taxi squad for additional depth. Then again, I am not the Head Coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs..yet.