Friday, July 22, 2016

André Benoit Autographed Card

After one year in the St. Louis Blues organization where he only suited up in two games at the NHL level (and 72 with the AHL's Chicago Wolves, posting 33 points), André Benoit will now take his talents to Europe, signing a one-year deal with the SHL's (Swedish League) Malmö Redhawks.

Last season, the Redhawks had a roster that included former NHLers T.J. Galiardi, Peter Mueller, Derek Meech, Kent McDonnell, and goalie Mika Noronen.

Casual NHL fans won't know much about Benoit, but he's an underrated #5-6 defenseman who rarely makes mistakes, except that one year where he finished -19 with the Buffalo Sabres, who were a laughingstock and a pity to watch; unfortunately, his safe playing style means that he doesn't get the recognition he deserves when he makes the right play, either, but let's just say that he was never on championship teams and yet was only a -1 for the 122 other NHL games he suited up in, with the Ottawa Senators, Colorado Avalanche and those two games with the Blues (+1).

He'd been a point-per-game player from the blue line with the Kitchener Rangers over the course of five seasons, and then had three very decent seasons (over five years, there was a two-year European stint in there) with the Hamilton Bulldogs, who at the time were the Montréal Canadiens' AHL affiliate. When the Habs failed to give him a real chance, he bolted to the Sens.

He was also serviceable with the Avs, whose defense has had many a hole to plug since he left as a free agent after their Central Division title two years ago, off a strong 7-goal, 21-assist, 28-point season, good for third among the team's defensemen.

I wish him the best - and a third return to North America in 2017 to finish his NHL career in style, perhaps even in Las Vegas.

He signed this 2011-12 Score (Hot Rookies) card from Panini for me a few years ago, which slots him into #47 in my Sens Numbers Project:
It shows him wearing the Sens' red (home) uniform that he wore for 8 games in 2010-11; he switched to #61 the following year, a number he kept for his entire NHL career.

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