Senators bring back Benoit

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:25 PM ET

OTTAWA - The Senators reached into their past to add some more depth Friday when they announced the signing of veteran defenceman Andre Benoit to a one-year, two-way contract.

The 28-year-old St. Albert native spent last season with Moscow Spartak of the KHL after being an instrumental part of the Binghamton Senators’ run to a Calder Cup championship in the spring of 2011.

Earlier that season, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Benoit also played eight games for Ottawa, picking up one assist and six penalty minutes with a minus-1 rating.

While he’s likely headed back to Binghamton, assistant GM Tim Murray expects him to take a good, honest run at an NHL job.

“It’s great to have him back,” said Murray. “He was a huge part of our organization two years ago, showing he can play at this level, at least short-term, and a huge part of the championship team in Binghamton, as far as on-ice, off-ice leadership, leading by example. To me (he was) probably the best player throughout the playoffs in the league.”

If Benoit doesn’t make the Senators’ top team, he’s likely to serve as captain for coach Luke Richardson’s B-Sens. In 2010-11, he was the team’s third-leading scorer with 11 goals and 44 assists in 73 games.

“We want good people, and he is good people,” said Murray. “He’s a leader at the AHL level, he’s a quiet, efficient veteran at the NHL level. He’s a pro’s pro. He knows what it takes to get ready for games, he knows what it takes to play at a high level in the AHL and a level that certainly does not hurt us at this level.

“I think he was a big part of some of our kids that have come up here and had some success from Binghamton. I think Andre should take pride in the fact he had a lot to do with that.”

Murray made it a point to tell Benoit his spot in the organization has not been predetermined.

“We’ve had the conversation that I think our coaching staff and the organization has been very fair in the last three years on who gets games and who makes the team,” he said. “Draft status and reputation don’t matter as much to us as the type of player and the type of person you are and your production.

“We know at the very least Andre is a top player at the AHL level. We certainly know he can play games up here, whether that’s on a short-term basis or a long-term basis, we’ll have to see with him. As I said to him, it’s always up to the player. But I expect he’ll come in at great shape, and I expect he’ll come in with the attitude he wants to win a job.

“We certainly know that he’s not automatically destined for Binghamton, that he’s going to come in here and, knowing him, he’s going to make it very hard on our coaches, on what way they decide where he fits.”

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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