Gulls A-Z Player Profiles: Simon BenoitJul 18, 2019
The 2018-19 hockey season was one of many firsts for Simon Benoit. It was not only the rookie defenseman’s first professional season, but also the first time he had played for a team based in the United States.
Entering his first year with the Gulls, Benoit was coming off three consecutive seasons with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) that saw him collect 8-35=43 points and 136 PIM over 182 career games. In his final season with the Cataractes, the Laval, Quebec native set career highs in points (5-23=28), goals, assists and PIM (67) in 63 games. The 20-year-old earned a one-year contract after he led all Shawinigan defensemen in points, assists, PIM and games played in his third and final year in the QMJHL.
In Benoit’s rookie season with Shawinigan, Martin Bernard was behind the bench as his head coach. RDS, a Candian sports channel, interviewed Bernard in March of last season and they broke down the former Cataractes’ style of play. “He was not the flashiest of the gang. If you didn’t look at him, you could miss it,” said Bernard. “There was nothing spectacular or 'wow' to throw you down your chair, except that when you looked at his game, it was full of small details that are important, that coaches love. I thought he was a great project to develop, if we gave ourselves time.”
Four full seasons of development later and Benoit has continued to improve his game. While he may not possess the offensive prowess that some players have, his defensive game remains solid as he was consistently used to shut down the opponents top players last season. It was clear that former Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins trusted Benoit in his rookie season as the 20-year-old played in 65 of 68 games for San Diego last season, leading all Gulls blueliners.
On March 7, Benoit’s performance impressed the Anaheim Ducks organization enough to earn him a three-year entry-level deal. He carried that momentum and closed out his first regular season with San Diego with 2-14=16 points, while co-leading San Diego with a +16 rating, which tied for fourth among all rookie defensemen in the AHL. He also played in all 16 postseason games, earning three assists, including a helper on the quadruple overtime win at Bakersfield on May 3.
Looking to continue momentum heading into his second professional season, Benoit will compete to earn a spot on an Anaheim blueline that boasts depth on multiple levels. With Dallas Eakins as the Ducks’ new head coach, Benoit will appear as a familiar face to a coach that understands and appreciates his game.