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J Is For Jim Benning

Well, here we are two months and almost 25 games after Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini let the world know how pleased he was with the first 15 games of the season.

You have to wonder how pleased he is now.

If the tone of this piece from Iain MacIntyre is any indication, and it should be, given the level of access to Trevor Linden he enjoys, things are not looking great for Jim Benning…

Both the quotes from team president, Trevor Linden, and the language that MacIntyre uses are consistent in being non-committal on the idea of granting Benning an extension any time soon.

Sure, Linden offers up some platitudes on Benning’s performance to date, but refuses to discuss the idea of a contract extension before the season is over:

“I’m not really going to get too into that at this point. I think it doesn’t serve anyone, any purpose. I think we’re focused on having a good second half here. I know that Jim’s focused on that. He came into a challenging situation and I think we’re trending in the right direction. I like the job Jim’s done. But beyond that, I think we’re focused on the next couple of months and the deadline, and then finishing and having a good season.”

I mean, it’s great that the Canucks are trending in the right direction and all, but so was the Titanic before it hit the ice:

The important part remains steering the Canucks’ ship safely back to the playoffs, and at this point there’s little indication that this will happen any time soon. If anything, the team is sinking faster than the Titanic and the only thing preventing it from hitting rock bottom is that they will land on the Arizona Coyotes.

And yet, with the team sitting at 27th in both points and goal differential half-way through the season, there are still fans and media alike, that believe Benning should and will get a contract extension:

That is some low bar to clear, Squire.

Not only that, but even if you go on drafting alone, since when do you only get to count the hits but not the misses? Surely hitting on Elias Pettersson is washed out by missing on Nikolaj Ehlers or William Nylander? And if you want to credit him on Brock Boeser, what about the miss on David Pastrnak?

Don’t get me wrong, I like the way Benning has drafted overall. The net impact of his draft picks has been good. But those incremental gains do not, on their own, make up for the asset management blunders on the professional roster. And you can fault the contract situation he took over all you want, but he’s just as handcuffed by the deals he gave to Brandon Sutter and Loui Eriksson as he was by any he inherited from Mike Gillis.

But I digress. Everyone has their take on how well Benning has steered the course over his three-and-a-half year tenure at the Canucks helm, and I’m not going to change anyone’s mind.

The fact remains that the only opinion that matters here is that of Francesco Aquilini. And while Boeser’s breakout, and the emergence of Pettersson are certainly positives, I’m not sure Benning has done anything this season to save himself. The on-ice results aren’t there, and it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to turn things around any time soon. This ship is hitting the iceberg, the question now is how much can be salvaged.

And the answer will be in how he manages three critical items over the next six months:

  1. Erik Gudbranson: can he break even on what it cost to acquire him? Rumour is they’d like to get a young prospect and a high draft pick for him. Um…
  2. Trade deadline: will we be seeing Tuesday Jim again this year? Ideally, they’ll move Gudbranson before the deadline, but if not he needs to go then, along with Vanek, and even Del Zotto if there are any takers.
  3. Entry Draft: can he repeat last year’s haul? A lot will depend on the bounce of the lottery balls, but it will be interesting to see if the drafting strategies under the new Director of Amateur Scouting, Judd Brackett, continue to find value in the later rounds.

But I’m still not convinced that Benning will be back even if he manages to outperform on all three of these issues. As I wrote back in November, Aquilini was preaching accountability coming into this season and at some point, someone has to be held accountable for what is happening on the ice. The coach is new. The owners have stepped back. This time around, Benning might have to go down with the ship.

 


RECENT GRAPHIC COMMENTS

  • Are we still pretending the Canucks are “handcuffed” by the Brandon Sutter and Loui Erikkson deals? Cause they aren’t. They are falling away from the salary cap ceiling at the same time the cap is poised to rise considerably. IF the Sedins are back next season it will be for what? 3.5 million per? That’s $7 million in cap savings right there. Jannik Hansen and Chris Higgins are off the books at the end of this season. That’s another $1.3 million. Brandon Sutter’s contract is easily movable with a bit of salary retention. And Eriksson will continue to be an useful, albeit overpaid piece. EVERY team in the league has an overpaid player or two.

    • Yeah, this sentence…

      “…but he’s just as handcuffed by the deals he gave to Brandon Sutter and Loui Eriksson as he was by any he inherited from Mike Gillis.”

      Is just total nonsense. And borderline stupidity.

      First off, and I have to qualify this because of the weird war between the moronic Benning vs Gillis extremists on this site, I totally supported Gillis’ approach to contracts at the time. It was the smart move to keep an amazing team together. But Gillis saddled Benning with a ton of players with full NTC’s. The ones you mentioned, Kesler, Edler, KB, Garrison, Hamhuis, the Twins….it’s pretty crazy. Benning has done nothing even close to that.

      But it’s not just that. It’s that even the contracts with NTCs he’s handed out to only TWO guys are not full NTC’s. Eriksson can be traded to just over half the league in 20, and Sutter in 19. It’s not even close to what he inherited from Gillis. Gagner, Del Zotto….neither has an NTC.

      Yeah…it’s not even borderline….it just is a stupid statement. Straight out.

      In my opinion the NTC’s he was stuck with should be considered when you talk about the time frame for turning the team around. It was a supertanker of a team (no pun intended), and it was going to be more difficult for any GM to create roster space for younger players.

      Does that mean Benning deserves a new contract? I don’t know. I’m borderline on him right now. I want to see the trade deadline moves he makes.

      • Benning overestimated what he got from MG and underestimated the difficult task ahead of him. MG gambled and lost — end of story. Wouldn’t be a fart in a tornado to debate if the Canucks had won the SC.

        Benning faced an invested owner, a team that had been structured to ‘win now’ and not to rebuild because it was losing. It was built to win — Presidents Cups, Art Ross and Hart, Selke, Jenkins, 100+ point seasons, top of the league PP, PK and goaltending.

        My question in the whole rebuild is this — how could any GM forsee Higgins suddenly becoming a zombie? Prust joining him in Zombieland? And injuries, injuries, injuries.

        The biggest thing that doomed this team is simply the same thing that made it great — the Sedins. When they were playing great the team played great. As their production fell off, management seemed to have blinders on (except maybe Torts) to the fact that this team was headed for a cliff and no one thought to buy parachutes.

        Benning tried to patch it up with cast-offs and third-string signings, which again wasn’t the problem. It was the damn narrative from Benning about “making the playoffs” and not one word on rebuilding. Its like management decided to ghost this team into a semi-rebuild rather than just be honest about the break-up.

        This team is a mess and a new GM simply faces the same issues only now with four years of band-aids and spit to work with.

        Give Benning a two year contract. Fire Weisbrod. Hire Holland like Shanny did with Lou Lamorillo — he can advise but not go off the ranch in some cowboy scenario.

        1. Sell anything of value.
        2. Have a big going away party for the Sedins.
        3. Start the freaking rebuild and let fans know it could be ugly.
        4. Show Cloutier the beachball and the door.
        5. Rehire Gilman … plan for the future.

        Bottom line is there is no easy out, quick fix or miracle worker on this planet that can change this situation overnight. That was Benning’s biggest error — we can turn it around quickly — like Truthseeker noted, its like turning a supertanker, but with 30 other ships shooting at you while you’re doing it!

        Enjoy the game, winning will come again, eventually.

      • What GM is going to trade for Sutter or Eriksson’s contract? NTC’s or not, they’re terrible contracts. That’s going to handcuff a team. Think if the Canucks plan actually works and, best case scenario, they’re competitive in 2-3 years. That $6 mill for Eriksson is going to prevent any chance of trying to become elite. If this team is going to become competitive, where is Sutter playing as a 31-32 year old? 4th line? So you’re going to pay a 4th line centre 4.375 mill and a 35 year old winger 6 mill? Over $10 mill for guys that, if all goes well, will not be playing any significant role on the team. Moronic management.

        • They will have quite a few entry level contracts, so maybe they can eat some of the $. But I think Sutter is seen somewhat like Gudbranson…other GM’s see value in them, or at least as valuable players. I like Sutter as a face off guy, not matter how unimportant CA and stats nerds see the importance of winning or losing the. I’ll start with the puck any day, especially on the PP and PK

        • Any contract can be traded. Luongo is proof of that. Eriksson with be no problem at all to get rid of and it’s only 6 million. Sutter is the same. Their 10 million owed is not going to affect them signing any of their young talent. They have 20 million dollars coming off the books at the end of the year. Edler’s will be done soon enough to coincide with signing some of the young ones like Boeser. Guys like Pettersson and Dahlen will still be on ETCs. Bo already has his contract and is included in the cap space now. And even if they were an issue, there will always be a team out there willing to take a salary dump for a pick or a “b” prospect. Plus the cap will most likely rise somewhat over the term of their contracts. There is no problem Dirk.

          See Dirk….you’ve got a streak of that self loathing in you. Not as bad as some here, but it’s still there. It makes you search for and invent problems that aren’t really problems. Makes you take the “sky is falling” position. It’s not that bad. Step back, take a breath, look at cap friendly

          https://www.capfriendly.com/teams/canucks

          And realize you’re over reacting.

          • So your answer is they’ll have the space so why not waste it? It’s not about signing their current talent – it’s about hindering their ability to bring in any other talent or have that cap flexibility every team wants. Even if the cap went as high as $100 mill there’s 10% going to two bit part ‘role players’ because of some bonehead thinking that this current team could make some noise. You think the Lightning or Penguins or Blues or any contender have these issues?

            If you’re satisfied with that kind of team building, I won’t rain on your parade!

          • Come on Dirk. Use the big brain. No where did I say they are good contracts. I’m simply saying they won’t effect the team signing their young talent and they won’t affect them becoming a contender.

            And again….they can be traded. Stop acting as if they are permanently stuck with them with no chance of ever getting rid of those contracts until they expire. That’s simply a false implication.

            So…on to your examples…

            The lightning are paying Matthew Carle nearly 2 million for this and the next two seasons as a buyout…They’re paying a 28 year old Alex Killorn 4.5 million til 2023 with a NTC for a 10 goal pace this season. And Callahan is sucking up nearly six million for this and the next 3 with an NTC and he’s got ONE goal this year. Great deal there huh?

            The Pens have 25 million dollars tied up in 3 30 year olds with NTCs until 2022. Yep it worked well, the last couple years, but you think those contracts aren’t going to bite them very soon? They mortgaged their future and it worked. But now they will pay the price. It’s going to be many years of falling apart and losing for the Pens, and it’s already starting to happen.

            And the Blues are paying 33 year old Steen nearly 6 million a year til 2021for his 10 goal pace this season.

            So yeah…they do have those issues. lol. You really should research your own examples before you try to use them as points.

  • Very good on drafting, hit and miss on trades. Maybe resign him to continue the vision, but add another manager that has more trade savvy. There’s room for another experienced hockey ops manager in YVR.

    • Coach Willie was sacrificed last season, Benning transformed the roster in the offseason and the results are roughly the same. From my perspective the playoffs were always an unrealistic goal given the conference, but from the interview it sounds like being in the playoff hunt is the yardstick that will be used to determine Benning’s future.

      • Canucks will never be Stanley Cup winner if ownership keeps interrupting the affair. I’d say leave Linden and Benning alone and let them do the job. Almost certain that some dicisions were influenced by the ownership just because he wants to play this armchair quarterback.

  • The Canucks sat 14th in the league a month ago.
    With Elias about to play Canada momentarily Canucks Army and Petbug’s graphics should be all about that event.
    Apologising for continuously ragging on while not having a clue about Brandon Sutter’s importance to the club ranks a close second.
    Once Guddy is traded you’ll have to find another Benning negative.

      • The Canucks sat 14th one month ago with Sutter taking the majority of defensive zone/PK responsibilities.
        In 2016/17 Sutter was 54.3% in the circle over 1452 faceoffs with 34 pts..
        He was 55.6% last year (ranked 9th in the entire NHL) and 56.4% the year before in the d-zone.
        Without Horvat and Sutter this team have won 20% of their games.
        That is a dead last winning % October thru April.
        Every year.

  • Before I die, I would like someone to tell me what Linden does as president of hockey operations. Presumably he has veto power over all of the contracts Benning negotiates and all of Benning’s trades. I’ll never forget when Willy was hired and Linden said Willy was a great teacher and that’s what the young players need. Then JV18 tells us that Willy never spoke to him. Linden has zero credibility to me as far as hockey operations go, he’s just a popular figure for Aquilini to hide behind.

    • You very likely answered your own question, he’s the buffer between GM and owner, one with hockey experience to counsel the owner while providing sober second thought to the GM. In that role he approves / endorses the GM’s big moves (anything that needs to get sold to ownership) and works with the GM to navigate the day to day. And he also gets to be the face of the franchise.

  • Let’s see…

    No playoffs in 3 straight years

    A one and done despite inheriting a 101 point roster and franchise players Tanev and Horvat.

    One decent draft pick (Boeser) in his first 20, jury still out on the 2017 class.

    The draft guru who passed on Larkin, Sergachev, Pastranak, Ehlers, Tkachuk, McAvoy, Tuch, Keller, Lilligren and Middlestadt – that’s TEN franchise changing NHL studs in favour of busts McCann, Virtanen and Juolevi!

    Boat anchor contracts, veteran duds, bad trades, garbage goalies, Russian runaways… the lust of Benning botches is endless for an owner that sounds to the cap every year and a club that collected accolades and playoff berths like confetti under GMMG… get this inept bum Benning out of my hockey club like yesterday… End of story.

  • Benning hasn’t even been here for 5 years yet. he was a rookie GM, he’s made some mistakes but nothing big enough to get him fired IMO, the Canucks were doing great until the west coast curse hit us again, I say extend him

  • Writers at this blog were critical of the following draft picks: Horvat (an MG pick, in favour of, among others, Hunter Shinkaruk); Boeser (perhaps not as strongly, but opposed nonetheless); Demko; Gaudette; and Lockwood. I’m sure there are others, and I’m also sure not all of these prospects will pan out. But the Canucks do have a decent pool of young talent and developing talent. Yes, Virtanen ought not have been selected above Ehlers or Nylander. He still might turn out to be an impact player, but that was a mistake. Yes, the Gudbranson trade was questionable at the time, and time has shown that it was ill advised.

    But this management group also signed Tanev to a value contract. They take chances – Tryamkin/Pouliot come to mind. Some of the contracts given to FA’s have been bad (Eriksson/probably Gagner). Others have been quite good – Vrbata/Vanek for example.

    But this team now has some potential elite level talent (Boeser/Pettersson), and some pieces that are very valuable. This club is getting better. Benning deserves at least another year and draft.

  • Benning being resigned all depends on who was actually making decisions. I feel like ownership might have been influening some sections we’re all criticizing Beenning for. Behind closed doors they know who’s made what decisions and based on that is whether Benning will be resigned or not

  • No offence but Vancouver doesn’t have typical nhl top line this year. I think with a couple tweaks and player improvements, Vancouver will have a legitimate top line. Tell me, would any team in today’s nhl be in the play off race with their top line out with injuries? How is this Bennings fault? I say extend his contract!

    • They had one until Horvat and Baertschi went down. You can make the case that Sven doesn’t belong there, but the line would have put up 70-80 goals, maybe more. That may not be a top five number one line in the NHL, but would still be a top line

  • Grab your pickfork and torches! Burn the witch! He used his witchy magic to injure our players these last couple seasons.

    It is easy to say he has not been perfect by bringing up choices that could have been made better in hindsight, and I’m not saying he is the best either, but he deserves some credit. We want to hang him up for retooling when he should have rebuilt. At the time that may not have been an option due to owner’s mandates, and it seemed like a “doable” thing and had been done before. But what was the guy left with to work with? He has been left trying to plug holes in a leaky dam just to remain competitive and entertaining. I guess what I’m trying to say is some, or much of what we want to blame on him result from circumstances beyond his control and now is the beginning of a great rebuild and he has done well in his job now we can call it that, and deserves at least another year or two to see it through.

  • Benning’s had a good 10 months dating back to the 2017 trade deadline – that includes all the mediocre signings (Gagner, Burmistrov, Del Zotto) but that’s the bar he’s set. I said before that if he can have another good deadline that will look good in his favour and might get him an extension but if not, see ya later. If you’re a Canuck fan and don’t think they can do better than Jim Benning and Trevor Linden in charge I don’t know what to tell you.

    Draft record – average
    Trading – below average
    Contracts – poor
    Free Agents – poor (Vrbata being the only good signing but then again they couldn’t trade him because of a NTC)

    • Prior to Tanev,Baertschi,Sutter and Horvat all suffering injuries the Canucks were the talk of the NHL.
      I compiled and posted the complete Canucks record under GMJB Nov 24th:

      16-17 30 43 9
      15-16 31 38 13
      14-15 48 29 05
      17-18 11-8-3
      Total: 120 W 118L 30 OTL
      270 points out of 268 games

      That includes two stealth tanks and inheriting the ‘prospect pool’ from the worst drafting GM in all of Canucks history.
      Some of you ‘fans’ aren’t qualified nor worthy to wash Jim’s truck.

      • This is the third year in a row you’ve used the injury excuse Bud. Does that register at all with you?

        Also, it’s easy to check hockey reference for the league average for points/record in every season. You’re posting records as if people weren’t aware of 28th, 28th and 27th place.

      • I guess you didn’t enjoy the success of the “worst drafting GM in the history of the NHL world”… and you call yourself a FAN…
        Lol
        Or Perhaps, your standards are to be cheerleading Pom Pom waving advocate for GM who is trending to finish in the bottom 5 of the league each year.
        But then again, there is always that philosophy to keep on that hope that next year is going to great and look at all the prospects we have???
        You should know that of all the prospects the Canucks have probably only 20-30% at best will crack an NHL
        Roster so, JB needed to stockpile which he done at a minimal rate.
        Just take the Slugbranson trade for example.
        Would you trade him straight up for a guy like Debrincat ??? Which was avaible for the Canucks in the 2nd round?
        Trades like this followed by the Sutter and forsling trades are just down right stupid for a team on a rebuild.

    • Dirk22 you made a few good points but your scoring of Benning in free agent signings having Vrbata as being the best he was crap had one good year but when it mattered he disappeared at the end of the season and in the playoffs, Benning couldn’t trade him at the deadline because no one wanted him.

    • He should be rated on “player management” too, having guys like Rodin, Tryamkin, Burmistrov just walk away, while breaking Vrbata (and then going on the radio to tell everyone he was looking for a 20 goal scorer while V was scoring 20 in Arizona).

      • Don’t you think Benning tried to trade Burmistrov? No one obviously wanted him. He’s now “back in the USSR boy” Tegarding Tryamkin, the bottom line is he spoke no English, was self centred and missed mother Russia. Having recently married a Russian “princess ” didn’t help matters as well. I Don’t think we have read the final chapter on Tryamkin though.
        Rodin was allowed to leave…there was simply no room in the lineup for him. He was clearly unhappy in the AHL. Furthermore, again, simply no interest from other teams. Hopefully he has a good career in th KHL.

  • What a crap article. Bennings done a decent job. Guy inherits a team with absolutely no youth or prospects and is supposed to build a Stanley Cup winner in four years? Were there questionable moves? Maybe. He gets Baertshi for a second, Granlund for a third and Pouliot for a fourth and a minor leaguer. Not too bad for a team starved for 22-25 year old prospects. He’s drafted well enough that we have the most prospects we’ve ever had. As for all the should of took Nylander and Ehlers haters you really think the Nucks needed smallish skilled forwards after getting pushed around in their own division? Give Virtanen some time. Fastest skater in the league with a physical package like that is whats needed in the West. Small skilled players are a lot easier to come by. All the analytic folks out there running Sutter, Gudbranson and Virtanen out of town and seeing whats left. I’m sure the Ducks,Kings and Sharks would be terrified with that lineup and while we’re at it how about getting rid of the other whipping boy Edler. Would be the softest team of all time.

    • And yet after 4 years their best “core” players are from another regime….
      the only “drafted” player paying dividends to this point is Boeser… his UFA signings are stop gaps to fill roster space which should at this point be prospects from the last 4 drafts regardless if they are AHL caliber at least.
      Besides The Granlund trade all have been average at best

      • What Benning inherited was a team that had bare cupboards and just a small core. The injuries Canucks have had has exposed the depth which is from not having any prospects and hanging on to 2011 and thinking the same team could recreate the magic. It will take a couple more years of stock piling draft picks and developing them so that the top ones make the NHL team and others grow in the farm system and can fill in when injuries happen. Ownership wanted to win as we all did, we sold our future to try and win the cup, where other teams kept moving forward and built a young developing core. If they don’t sign Benning I at least hope they keep up with stocking young players so that we don’t need to sign the type of player that just is a filler. Building a team is not easy and takes time.

      • Patience Brain. Unless you’re picking top two not many are ready to play in the show. Benning first draft four years ago only fourteen players have played over eighty games and we got Boeser in that draft. You expect eighteen year old kids to step in and make an impact? Not physically or mentally ready unless you’re a Mcdavid or Matthews.

    • The same people who bash Ehlers and Nylander sure love Petterson.

      And no, bob, he’s not supposed to build a Stanley Cup team in 4 years. You said yourself he inherits a team with no youth or prospects. What do you think would have been the best course of action in that scenario? What seems like the obvious choice?

      …if you said ‘retool’, try again.

      • Keep doing what they’re doing. Look for good acquisitions i.e. Pouliot etc. and build through the draft. Hard to get high end impact players through trade. Problem Benning has is he picks what he thinks will end up the best player not who’s ready right now even though it may cost him his job. The Tkachuk over Juolevi pick is so overdone. You really think it’s that hard drafting a slow footed hacking winger who’s got a nose around the net. Would you trade Virtanen for him? I wouldn’t. Just because he’s had modest early success and is playing everybody thinks we missed out on a generational player. It’ll take time but I’m ok with whats going on. Problem is Vancouver fans can’t and won’t go through a rebuild. Look at the Leafs. No matter how bad they support their team.

      • You could say that in reverse as well. The same people that trash Pettersson sure love Ehlers and Nylander. Ehlers would be the comparable, size wise. Will people stop hating on the Pettersson pick if he merely does as well as Ehlers?

      • I have always thought that Sutter’s best role to play is as a shutdown center. The line of Gaunce-Sutter-Dorsett(replaced by Virtanen) is quite good at it. Now, maybe his salary is too high for this role, so a legitimate beefo to have there, but the main reason people rag on him is because of him being sold as a “foundational” player, which many people interpreted as being a second-line scoring center.

        I say leave that behind, and appreciate his proper role now, and for the years left in his contract.

        • The guy has size, can skate, can check, win draws, good character, kill penalties, can score 20 goals and can match up against top lines. Thats not foundational? Really think for that his contract is too high?

      • Exactly. That leaves the only reason to hate on Sutter is the size of his contract. And is that going to look as bad next year, with a projected cap increase?

  • Two years ago it was pretty obvious we were heading for back to back bottom 5 finishes and not even Scotty Bowman and Toe Blake could have done anything to prevent that. If you look at league bottom feeders over recent years most are still there unless they win the draft lottery (Oilers/Leafs) so expecting otherwise in the short term was not realistic. Every GM has misses at the draft and in trades and this site focuses too much on Virtanen. Yes there were better players picked later but it wasn’t a stretch and about where he was ranked. He’s not a bust and will be a useful player. Baertchi trade was a good one as well with Shinkaruk looking like he is going to wash out of the league.

  • One of the best ways for an owner to destroy a franchise is through meddling and setting unrealistic expectations. No good GM wants to work for somebody like that.

    I and many other Canuck fans will be upset if Benning is fired. It would strike me as a hotheaded and capricious move by Aquilini, like something you would expect from Donald Trump. Benning has made some questionable moves, but on the whole he has done well and the team is headed in the right direction. They’re certainly more fun to watch. Last year’s draft was successful by any measure, as were his trades at the deadline to pick up Goldobin and Dahlen. Boeser is already a star. I would give Linden and Benning at least 2 more years before making a judgement.

    • Where’s the evidence that ownership meddles any more so than on any other team? You’re conveniently overlooking the fact that Benning won the interview competition over all the other candidates, he was on the same page as ownership, that’s why he got the job.

      • Moderated post…yeah I was at the
        Interview and when Francesco asked Benning blah blah blah.
        News flash…when President of team asks you if you could turn the team around, no is the answer that doesn’t get you the job.

  • Here’s my comments I wrote over at “Pass it to Bulis” at the Vancouver Courier on the same subject with a response from the author there (PITB Daniel) in the middle:
    Compare his tenure to other GMs faced in the same situation. Ten year rebuilds seem to be the norm. I think JBs done a good job restocking the cupboard so it’s not all dependent on a couple of high picks saving the team, I.e. Virtanen and Juolevi. Obviously, them working out would add considerably to the build, but they don’t have to be saviours. Which speaks to the crafty trades; the drafting, and the free agent hole fillers.
    He deserves a two year extension, and if it’s not a markedly brighter future (and I say It’s clearly trending that way), I’d be surprised and also willing, then, to say It’s time to consider another GM. He DID come into a very tough situation. His highest pick is fifth, and if you look at the history of first and second picks, they’re almost always impact players. Thirds and fourths are usually impact players and after that it starts becoming a LOT more variable.
    You can’t turn an aging team with lots of NTCs and few prospects on a dime. That presupposes you basically nail it in your very first draft, and hit a couple of trade home runs the first and second year, and otherwise pretty much nail everything that first year or two.
    Were you as good on your job the first year or two as you are now? I wasn’t nor were most of the people I know. But … we expect magic from GMs … He’s clearly clearly clearly (should I say it again) improved in his later years … and so, with the team on the turn, fairly deserves a couple more years. And honestly, the team has had it tough for two of those years with crucial injuries while the NHL-ready-playing talent is still thin gruel. That’s tough. A couple more years and then I’d think it’s fair to judge his overall managerial chops, THEN.

    PITB Daniel to Jay Walker • 18 hours ago
    I’m not sure that a ten year rebuild is the norm. The Leafs and Oilers certainly took that long, but that was with a lot of stops and starts, changed management groups, and completely new approaches to rebuilding. My former co-writer, Will Graham, took a look at how long rebuilds take, looking at three other teams: http://www.vancourier.com/pass-it-to-bulis/how-long-is-a-canucks-rebuild-going-to-take-1.13254392
    Jay Walker’s response: OK, here’s Will’s statement, “The truth is the Canucks are looking at just that. Four to six years if we’re being optimistic.”
    IF WE ARE BEING OPTIMISTIC! By the way, your co-writer Will Graham also selected Washington as a comparable, Chicago and Edmonton. Chicago had a first pick in there (Kane), and a third (Toews); Washington had a first pick (Ovechkin in 2005) and three picks in the first round in 2004. Edmonton, well, let’s not even talk about the number of high picks they’ve had.
    We have drafted no higher than fifth in our rebuild, and it was just this year that I read a detailed analysis (at Canucks Army I think) showing that positions one and two are almost always great or very good players (with exceptions noted, sorry Alexandre Daigle), thee and four are often or usually star or quite good players. Afer that, major variability begins to creep in (particularly when defencemen are drafted).
    So … you also have to look at the futility records of some of those other teams – the New York Islanders, the Hurricanes, the Panthers, Arizona, New Jersey etc. (as coming to top of mind). Maybe ten years is stretching it, but like eight years might be more the norm if you don’t snag a couple of first, second or third overall picks in there. And you can’t tank the way you used to and either guarantee yourself the first (or second) pick – the draft lottery has gotten way more stingy.
    In addition to all else I’ve articulated, this is all the more reason why I think he’s done a pretty good job, in pretty short order. Should we start over with someone new who’s still got their “training wheels” on? Doesn’t make sense to me, when there’s a clearly now capable and able GM stocking the cupboards, winning many medium importance trades, and learning on the free agent front (i.e. fill holes, don’t swing for the fences wildly).
    Show me some GM comparables IN COMPARABLE SITUATIONS (in particular, no/few prospects in the cupboard, and no draft positions above 5th) that have turned around their teams in four years? I don’t think you can probably find even one in the modern draft lotto, and I doubt there’s more than 3 or so in the past twenty years or so.
    Jim Benning is at least a GOOD GM, and time may possibly show even a great one.

    • If ownership wanted “the typical 10yr rebuild” you speak of they could have just hired you and saved themselves a heck of a lot in budget over that time frame. The irony here is that if Benning hadn’t messed up round 1 of the 2014 draft the team would be much further ahead and his contract would have already been extended.

        • Yup, if Benning could have one do-over, changing that first round would have the biggest impact on the organization today. Even just taking Pastrnak over McCann would have been enough to prove to ownership that he can walk the talk and that things are going to turn around. Resigning him based on the Juolevi and Pettersson picks is just kicking the can down the road another 2-3 more seasons while they prove themselves, and if they don’t it will be another two years lost.

  • The amount of excuses for Benning/Linden are absurd. Are people’s expectations that low? You don’t think there are better people out there?

    If it’s the drafting people are worried about losing (I don’t know how it could be anything else) then don’t worry – the scouting staff (led by Judd Bracket) have far more influence on any picks that are made.

    Unless he pulls some big moves off between now and Feb. 26th, you have to find someone else.

    • Well the grass is always greener….somewhere else. Let’s look at some of the other recent hires at GM. Chayka, Chiarelli, Benning, Shero, Tim Murray(fired), Botterill, Don Sweeney, Cheveldayoff, Treliving. There’s a real mixed bag of results there. The point is that what you get is not necessarily going to be a better answer. The best is probably Shero and he was a veteran GM going in. Let’s look at the known veteran candidates: Don Maloney, Dean Lombardi, Ken Holland (big maybe). Lets not even go with the rising candidates, even more likely to be a crapshoot than the vets. Let’s look at at veteran guys slightly under the microscope, Bob Murray, Doug Wilson, Garth Snow…longshots to be available
      I’m more in favor of bringing in a veteran President who can set a course that continues the rebuild and has the full confidence of the owner. I don’t see Linden being all that wise a brake on bad deals( kudos “myshkin”). I could see Holland as President but would he go from a situation run by the Illitch family to one run by the Aquilinis? IMO, Two more years for Jim, then either like his work or bring in someone then to cap the rebuild.

  • How the he** can anyone expect to turn a team of over the hill vets ( and i appreciated them all in the glory years) into a contender in 4 years!! Your first drafts are only 22 at this point and barely starting to hit their potential. The rest of the young wave will take another few years to make an impact. Keep up the the quality drafting and we will be fine IN A FEW YEARS! Benning is doing fine.

  • I find the comments on this article surprisingly polarized. I’m not sure what people were expecting, but I’m actually quite positive overall with Benning’s work. Compared to where we were at as a franchise at the beginning of 2016, it’s clear to me that Benning has learned from his mistakes (whether talking to the media or missing out on trade deadline moves) and is now showing himself to be at the very least – competent. Those writers who seem to think we can grab someone else with more experience etc and somehow they will hit homerun after homerun are nothing short of delusional. Who and where are those magic men? Look at the Habs and the mess Bergevin has created over there. He was highly regarded coming out of the Chicago organization. There are no guarantees with any turn over in personnel, especially in management. Yeah, maybe he could have done better, but he hasn’t done too badly on the last couple of years, and I can’t think of anyone (not Ken Holland) who wouldn’t just step in and poop in the bathtub as they make all the changes to bring in their guys! Benning deserves a couple more years. Then we’ll have a better look at the new and improved Benning and be better able to assess his abilities to build a contender.

  • For me, this rebuild has been accidental because Benning’s attempts to compete have been an abysmal failure. A bunch of top 6 picks would make any GMs resume look good. Regardless, it’s likely Benning won’t be back as it’s clear Linden has taken on a much larger role in decision making since the Gudbransen trade. Linden probably decided he would allow Benning one last independent move to see how it went. When it backfired, like it so clearly was destined, Linden has decided to take over. Suddenly, Benning is getting props for some decent moves but people are too oblivious to realize Benning is no longer making final decisions.

    “I like this team – I like the core players. This is a team we can turn around in a hurry.” – Benning – May 2014

    Benning’s evaluation was so far off the mark when he first started, how can we trust him with future decisions? If Aquilini truly pressured Benning to retool instead of rebuild, Benning would have another contract by now. If Benning told Aquilini this same quote, we can understand why ownership looking to make a change.

    “You win with players like Brandon Sutter. I’m not comparing him to Patrice Bergeron, but when I was in Boston, Bergeron was a great two-way player for us. Look at Jonathan Toews (in Chicago). That’s how you win in the playoffs. When we look at Brandon Sutter and all the things he brings, he’s going to be in our next wave of core players. I believe his best hockey is still ahead of him.” – Benning August 2015

    This one took the cake. Any GM that evaluates Sutter in this fashion is clueless. How can we trust him with future decisions.

    The final straw for me was trading for Gudbransen. There were so many things wrong with that trade, how can you trust any decision going forward?

    • I question Benning’s evaluation of veteran players as well. He called Sutter and Gudbransen “foundational” players when acquiring them and vastly overpaid for both.
      The Gudbransen trade looks especially bad when you consider all the players that we could have drafted with the second round pick that was included. Half the Canadian junior gold medal team including Kyrou, Dube and Hart were available.

      My final judgment on Benning’s ability will be based on what he gets in return for Gudbransen att he trade deadline.

      • Freud, I’d suggest that evaluating a GM shouldn’t be done on either the basis of a few isolated statements, nor one or two trades. Instead, look at his total ‘body of work’ and, particularly for a new GM, consider the later years as more important than the early years (it’s called ‘learning the job’, that’s why). His body of work in totality is beginning to become impressive. Certainly there have been mistakes – that’s the nature of his job. Missed draft picks, a bad trade – sheska, you’d have to fire every GM. This team hasn’t quite turned the corner (sorry, that’s what happens when the cupboard is bare, the club is stocked with aging and slowing vets with NTCs), and maybe even missing on your ‘first’ draft (i.e. 2014). The kids drafted in, oh say 2015 are now just turning 20ish. Boeser is now an ‘obvious’ steal (say Freud, should the another ~20 GMs ahead of JB be fired for missing Boeser? Just asking …), Pettersson is looking like a home run, and there’s lots of other quality prospects nearly ready (especially forwards). Anyway … my 2 cents. I think JB haters are so so so very wrong and so selectively use examples rather than considering his complete works, especially those after the first year or so …

  • This is a TL/JB team after 4 years ie there first round picks should be excelling by now. This is not a MG team in 4 years apart from the the odd player left over from that era ( Horvat, Markstrom, Gauncd ,Biega, Tanev, Hutton, Sedins and Edler the rest of the roster are TL/JB players ) the team is 61% JB made.

    Each draft JB has slected in a pretty good spot, they have had 5, 1st round picks which should be enough to make an imprint on the team. Some of the picks may do well but the surrounding group pull the team back to where we are now. TL wants patience, well Vegas has done OK, the Av’s have done OK, Winnipeg has done OK, StL had had a turn over and they’re doing OK ….ditto LA. Frankly Vcr. is NOT doing OK. How do you judge a team … by success or the patience shown by the fans

    • Virtanen-21 year old power forward
      Demko-1st AHL season
      Boeser-All Star Brock star
      Gaudette-21 years old College
      Olli-19 yrs old
      Brisebois-20 years old AHL
      2017 draft-18/19 years old
      It’s abundantly clear Gillis left Benning no prospect pool and the first two drafts have pulled in 8 NHL prospects and assets.
      Two picks per draft is considered the norm,Fred.
      Tryamkin,Virtanen,McCann,Forsling,Gaudette,Boeser and hopefully Gaudette will all have played for the Canucks by year end.
      Forsling makes eight Benning picks from drafts 1+2 that grace this team or were draft assets turned over into NHL’ers.
      The hindsight recalcitrants have failed to do the Gillis draft math.
      Do it again without Benning’s EIGHT draft picks that made the show.

    • Fred 65 – really? You’re saying the Av’s have done OK? Waaaaat? And Winnipeg/Atlanta has finally turned the corner, but they also got some important and higher picks in there (Schiefle in 2011 at #7 and Patrick Laine (who many people felt was a “1A” with Auston Matthews in 2015), and there were many many years of futility. But really the Avs?

    • Usually when a new GM takes over a team there is a stockpile of prospects to pull from the farm.
      An assessment of which veterans stay and which will be traded would be made.
      There were literally no prospects on the farm. The aging core of star players had no trade or very limited no trade clause (Kesler, Hamhuis, Sedins etc) There was not much leverage available to Benning.
      Fast forward to the present. The farm team is starting to fill with prospects and the aging core is slowly moving on either through attrition or trades. The team is much younger and if healthy has proven to be competitive.
      I think Vancouver is doing ok

  • I’m pretty happy with Benning’s work so far, lots of young talent on the team or on the way… there was a long time during the Gillis years where the Canucks had absolutely nothing coming down the pipe. The team was old and had no second line for years. Benning may have been asked to rebuild on the fly forcing him to sign players like Erickson (which didn’t look like a bad contract at the time as he’d had a good year and looked great playing with the Sedin’s internationally). Gudbranson for McCann didn’t seem like a bad trade either at the time, 3rd overall pick, big and gritty defenceman… something we didn’t have. McCann isn’t exactly lighting it up. We’ve also had bad luck in the lottery. Personally, I hope we suck a few more years and get another scorer and a high level offensive defensemen in the draft. Dahlin would be nice.

    • Ditto. As a first time GM or asset manager, JB has some areas that needs improvements but it seems like he is learning. I like that he is willing to take a risk and decisively move when the bet does not workout. As a long time fan, I am hopeful during the draft because there is a good chance that a roster player(s) might be chosen unlike before were FA’s or trades are necessary to build our roster due to poor drafting. Perhaps for some seeking perfection or instant gratification a Playstation might help. If JB stays, I just hope that he & his team will have enough hits to build a team that is capable of winning a cup not just once and be a perennial contender. I am not looking forward to starting again with a new GM that will probably make the same mistakes. At least with JB, hopefully he wont make the same mistake(s). Great discussions !!!!