Few players have had as long a wait or as many stops on their road to establishing themselves in the NHL as Colorado Avalanche defenseman Andre Benoit. His teammate Nick Holden, about whom there is another article on Avalanche 101, had a similarly long road, as he was a 26 year old rookie this past season. Benoit, on the other hand, was a 28 year old rookie two years ago with the Ottawa Senators before joining Colorado via free agency last summer. Being a rookie at that age is simply unheard of.
But there's more to Benoit's story than how long it took him to get a foothold on an NHL roster. There's also how many places he has played along the way. Before becoming an NHL regular, Benoit went from junior hockey to the AHL, then to Finland, then to Sweden, back to the AHL, then to the KHL in Russia, then to the AHL again. After enough bouncing around to make a pinball dizzy, Benoit got his NHL chance with the Senators, who decided not to resign him last year. But the Avalanche liked what they saw from him, and he appears to have finally put down roots with the Avs.
In addition to having had a similarly long wait to get to the NHL as Nick Holden, Andre Benoit also had a similar first season with the Avalanche. Benoit had 28 points (7 goals, 21 assists) in 79 games for Colorado, in addition to well positioned, smart defensive play. Honestly, all of the defensemen for Colorado outside of the top three or four played with the same fundamental soundness. None of them individually was really outstanding, but in a good way. Like offensive linemen in football, third and fourth pair NHL defenseman generally only get talked about when they're consistently doing something wrong, and that wasn't a problem for Benoit or anyone else on the Avalanche defense.
Given Benoit's consistent play over the past season, he is almost certain to retain his role next season. Like Holden, he will have to hold off some promising young prospects, but unlike them, Holden and Benoit have paid their dues and would have to hit a major snag to lose their spots.
Things have really worked out well for Colorado with their recent defensive additions. Free agents that cost the Avalanche next to nothing to bring in turning out to be serviceable, solid players has given the team depth at a position that has been a soft spot for Colorado in recent years. While they still don't have someone that people would necessarily consider a franchise defenseman, they do have a long list of good defenseman like Benoit, and collectively they can get the job done. Benoit should continue to be a part of that moving forward.
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