Throughout Jim Benning’s tenure in Vancouver, there have been many ups and downs. Such as drafting Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson or handing out monster contracts that were destined to fail. Although Benning has down some wonderful things throughout the Canucks rebuild, he has also made some questionable moves.
With the inevitable departures of Tyler Toffoli and Chris Tanev. Plus, the Canucks being tied up in a not so pretty cap situation, 2021 could be Jim Benning’s last ride. Let us dive into the good, bad, and the ugly of Benning’s tenure in Vancouver thus far.
It is no secret the Canucks are one of the biggest up and comers around the NHL. That is owed in part to Jim Benning with the help of former director of amateur scouting Judd Brackett. With Jim Benning at the helm, the Canucks have managed to draft Hughes, Pettersson, and Brock Boeser, who are all playing major roles with the Canucks currently. Benning has done an excellent job overseeing the growth of Vancouver’s prospect pool.
Jim Benning has also made an interesting trade at the 2019 entry draft that had fans scratching their heads. The lighting received a 2019 third-round pick, a 2020 conditional first-round pick, and Merek Mazanec in exchange for J.T. Miller. At the time of this deal, many though Jim Benning had overpaid for an aging third liner.
This would be a wrong assumption as Miller would prove to be pivotal to the Canucks success in his first season.
On to the bad. Although Benning’s hands were tied fans still look back on the Ryan Kesler trade as a huge blow, with most of the blame on Kesler himself. Flashback to 2014 though and Ryan Kesler was a star. Sure, enough his return does not seem great now. Jim Benning shipped Kesler, as well as a third-round pick in 2015 off to Anaheim for Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, a first-round pick, and a third-round pick in 2014.
The Canucks would lose Sbisa to Las Vegas in the expansion after a couple of very disappointing seasons.
The First-round pick would be turned into Jared McCann (picked one pick before David Pastrnak) and the third-round pick was traded to the Rangers for Derek Dorsett. Dorsett would retire four seasons later due to a neck injury. While McCann would be eventually traded for Eric Gudbranson, who would be delt for Tanner Pearson.
After one season in Vancouver Jim Benning would send Nick Bonino among other pieces to Pittsburgh for Brandon Sutter and a third-round pick in 2016. The pick would be used to draft William Lockwood, who finished his collegiate career in 2020.
The Kesler trade is hands down the bad that has come from Jim Benning. As all the Canucks have from the former All-Star is Tanner Pearson, Brandon Sutter, and William Lockwood. On the bright side more can come from this deal soon.
No surprises here. The ugly of Benning’s tenure thus far the contracts he has handed out. Starting with the disaster that is Loui Eriksson. In 2016 Benning signed Eriksson to a six-year $36 million deal including a no-movement clause, with expectations that he would succeed alongside the Sedin twins. That deal has come back and bitten him on the behind.
Next up the deal handed out to Tyler Myers last summer. Benning signed Myers to a five-year $30 million deal including a no-trade clause. Now that does not seem like a bad contract for Myers, 10 years ago. He is now an aging defenceman who is just a shell of what he was, resulting in more loss of cap space for the Canucks.
Those are just two of Benning’s questionable contracts handed out. He seems to give out no-trade clauses like Oprah gives out cars, resulting in some tough decisions and sticky situation for the Canucks.
If the Canucks do not make a deep run this upcoming season it may be in the team’s best interest to move on from Jim Benning. Although Benning has done some good for the Canucks’ he has also put them in some tough predicaments. Losing some key players this offseason due to bad moves made in the past could result in Benning to be looking for a new team come the 2022 season.
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