On Saturday, the Anaheim Ducks announced the recall of Simon Benoit from the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League (AHL):
In his position preview prior to the season, Anaheim Calling’s John Broadbent provided a great summary of what to expect from Benoit (full article can be found here):
“One of the few feel good success stories to come out of last season, Benoit is the underdog personified. Undrafted and attending the Ducks’ post-2018 prospect development camp, the Laval native turned heads with his cool, composed, yet chaotic physical style. From there he got invited back to training camp and survived some of the first few cuts before eventually joining the Gulls, where he again stuck around and earned a PTO contract.
Seizing every opportunity he was presented with, he played in 65 total games for the Gulls, beating out several veterans for starting opportunities and eventually finishing the season second on the team in games played; only Chase De Leo more. He and De Leo co-lead the team in +/- and his 16 points placed him third behind Mahura and Welinski for scoring from the blueline. He figures to get a long look at Ducks’ camp but should ultimately lead the Gulls’ defensive corps to start the year. I would not be surprised if he gets a call to the Ducks should one of the backend go down with injury.”
The 21-year-old, 6’-3” defenseman from Laval Quebec was undrafted after three years playing for the Shawinigan Cataractes in the QMJHL. Since signing with the Anaheim Ducks after his 2018 rookie tournament debut he has played in 74 AHL regular season games and has scored 3 goals and 15 assists for a total of 18 career points. Over the same number of games Benoit has racked up 40 PIMs and a +/- of plus 14. He has also played a total of 16 career playoff games scoring a further 3 assists and 6 PIMs.
Benoit had another impressive rookie camp and pre-season this year followed up by a strong start to the season under new coach Kevin Dineen. He is only one of two AHL defensemen appearing in all nine Gulls games this season.
Benoit has the capability of playing strong defensive hockey. He plays with good hockey sense and his strong skating and defensive positioning helps to ensure that he is not left behind the play when he throws his body around physically.
Benoit has demonstrated that he can perform at the AHL level and will now get the opportunity to see how well that translates to the faster and more physical play in the NHL, especially if he plays on Sunday night against the Edmonton Oilers. If he does, he will be tested to the limit with league points leader Leon Draisaitl (14 goals and 8 assists for 30 points in 18 games played) and Hart Memorial Trophy, two time Art Ross Trophy and two time Ted Lindsay Award winner, Connor McDavid (8 goals and 19 assists for 27 points in 18 games played), to defend against.
The Anaheim Ducks sent Josh Mahura back to the San Diego Gulls in a corresponding roster move. Despite a strong performance with the Anaheim Ducks, scoring 3 assists in 3 games, Ducks brass appear to be opting for the larger and more physical Benoit (6-3, 191 lbs) over Mahura (6-0, 186 lbs), perhaps in an attempt fill the void left by injured Josh Manson (6-3, 224 lbs).
It remains to be seen how long Benoit will stick around with the Anaheim Ducks but the underdog has his moment - let’s see what he’s got.