Jim Benning is long gone from Vancouver now, but the Vancouver Canucks could still reap the rewards of his time in Vancouver. He did make some questionable moves in his eight-season tenure with the Vancouver Canucks, but like everything with the bad came the good. Some good things jump out like the J.T. Miller trade or drafting the likes of Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Brock Boeser, Thatcher Demko, among others. Then there are minor moves that could pay dividends in the long run, those are the rewards the Canucks and their fans should be excited for. Now let’s dive into some moves from the past.
Benning’s Last Ride
Jim Benning made three minor trades and one potentially franchise-altering deal before his departure. The potential franchise-altering trade would be Vancouver receiving Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland from the Arizona Coyotes on draft day. We will not dive into that as it was the Canucks biggest move in the offseason most Canucks know the details.
After the Coyotes deal, it was reported then Canucks defenceman Nate Schmidt requested a trade, and Benning and company obliged sending Schmidt to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange the Canucks received a 2022 third-round pick, at the trade deadline new Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin fliped said pick for Toronto Maple Leafs’ defenceman Travis Dermott.
A few days after the Schmidt trade Benning pulled the trigger on a minor deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning, acquiring goaltender Spencer Martin for future considerations. At the time not a lot of people knew of Martin, he had played three career games for the Colorado Avalanche back in early 2017, but after a COVID-19 outbreak saw both the Canucks goaltenders Thatcher Demko and Jaroslav Halak unable to play Martin stepped up big for three starts stopping 113 out of 118 shots on route to a 1-0-2 record, while all but solidifying his role of Canucks backup goaltender next season.
Benning’s final trade at the helm of the Canucks saw him attempt to amend one of his biggest mistakes as Canucks general manager. Prior to the start of the season Benning struck a deal with a very familiar Canucks trade partner, the Florida Panthers. The trade saw former fifth-over pick Olli Juolevi go to south beach in exchange for Noah Juulsen and Juho Lammikko. Juulsen himself was a former first-round pick in 2015 and believed to be the bigger piece coming from Florida, but Lammikko had a different idea. The 65th overall selection in 2014, pick one slot after the Canucks selected Nikita Tryamkin has been a mainstay in the Canucks bottom six this season appearing in 61 games prior to Sunday’s game and totaling 15 points thus far. Where Juulsen has appeared in just eight games thus far. Juolevi appeared in just 10 games with Florida before being claimed on waivers by the Detroit Red Wings in March.
When Benning took over the Canucks in 2014 a rebuild was immediate, but never fully took off. Many long-time Canucks found themselves moving on, players such as Ryan Kesler, Jannik Hansen, Kevin Bieksa, and Alexandre Burrows. All of which happened between 2014-2016. Although it has been six years since the last one of them was moved the Canucks are still in fact reaping the rewards.
Things were rocking between the Vancouver Canucks and Ryan Kesler when Benning took over and the only option was to trade Kesler. Kesler was shipped off to the Anaheim Ducks on June 27th, 2014 just over a month after Benning took over. Let’s look into Ryan Kesler’s trade tree is by far the longest and most complicated of the bunch. To quickly sum up the trade tree the Canucks sent Kesler and a third-round pick in 2015 to the Ducks for Luca Sbisa, Nick Bonino, a 2014 first-round and third-round pick. The with a bunch of different moves have ended up with Tanner Pearson and William Lockwood.
See video for the complete tree:
Next up in 2015 Benning shipped defenceman Kevin Bieksa to the Ducks in exchange for a 2016 second-round pick. Said second-round pick was then packaged with Adam Clendening and Jared McCann for Brandon Sutter from the Pittsburgh Penguins. This tree is on its last leg but not quite down yet.
With the 2016 trade deadline approaching Benning decided to move Jannik Hansen and Alexandre Burrows. First was Burrows who was sent to the Ottawa Senators for promising prospect Jonathan Dahlen. After just 52 games with the Utica Comets Dahlen was shipped to the San Jose Sharks for Linus Karlsson. Yes, the Linus Karlsson who broke current Canucks superstar Elias Pettersson’s SHL rookie scoring record just last week. The day after Burrows was sent to Ottawa Hansen was shipped off to San Jose for Nikolay Goldobin and a 2017 fourth-round pick. That fourth-round pick was then traded to the Chicago Blackhawks for a 2017 fifth-round pick and a sixth-round pick. The fifth-round pick was used to select Kristoffer Gunnarsson while the sixth-round pick was used to select Petrus Palmu. Gunnarsson went unsigned while Palmu is currently playing in Europe, like Goldobin the Canucks still hold the rights to Palmu and this tree could grow.
Jim Benning’s Rewards
Benning is gone and left a sour taste in many Canucks fans’ mouths, but he did leave behind some gems. The Canucks hold the rights to a few good players overseas, most notably Linus Karlsson, while having the luxury of Thatcher Demko, Quinn Hughes, J.T. Miller, and Elias Pettersson. To add to the greener pastures most of Benning’s mistakes are gone and some will argue Tyler Myers‘ huge contract, as well as Oliver Ekmann-Larrson’s, are still around, the good still outweighs the bad in this situation and the Canucks still have a bright future.
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