Benoit has been better than expected - PMac is really getting the most out of this career AHLer. I don't know if he figures into BMurr's long-term plans - I believe Benoit has ceiling-ed out in terms of development. I guess Benoit can be this team's MAB/Whitney in the short-term.
Wiercioch still has ways to go before he hits his ceiling. If groomed right, he can be a solid top-4 guy down the line as a 2-way defenceman.
Gryba is the potential replacement of Phillips as the team's consistent # 6.
2013/2014 (depth chart status quo)
Methot-Gryba (reminiscent of Phillips-Volchenkov in my dream scenario)
Wiercioch-Phillips (both left-handed shots, much rather have Phillips play on the off-hand to allow Wiercioch's offensive game to grow)
2014/2015 (Phillips gets put down and sent to the glue factory; Benoit further down the depth chart)
I have no doubt that Benoit has hit his ceiling for the most part, but I do really like what he brings to the table on the bottom pairing. I personally think that he has been the best of the Bingo AHL callup defencemen in terms of consistency. Weircoch will be better then him, but the jury is out on Gryba and Borocop as to where they will settle in over the long term as well.
All this said, Benoit IS an easily replaceable player but I think that what he brings in his role on the team is more valuable then other candidates for a spot on our 3rd pairing.
I like Benoit's game. He struggles when pressured and can get outplayed physically along the boards in his own end, but he's a shifty little SOB out there with the puck and has a knack for getting it to the net. I like him as a 6th/7th defenseman with time on the second PP unit. Even with Karlsson on the team.
He's a journeyman showing he can step play as a #6/7 on a well coached team. He's got support on every play and doesn't have to think much to make a decision. Ottawa has one of the best breakout systems in the league. There's always an outlet option, so our D rarely have the puck for more than a few strides. When every AHL callup is looking really good, you need to realize the team is well coached, moreso than those AHL callups are so good that they should all have a role in this team's long-term plan.
Tl;dr Benoit is a serviceable player, but he's not good enough to be more than an interchangeable part on this team.
Guy looks like he's good enough to be in the NHL, but probably not good enough to be anything more than a #6 guy who is dependable enough to fill in as a #4 or 5 guy when needed, without giving the coach a heart-attack.
At this point in his career however, what you see is what you get.