It was one of the top stories of the season. A few months ago, it was first reported that Canucks GM Jim Benning was in the last year of his contract – a small but important detail unknown by most. Since then, it’s been a topic clouded by arguments for and against a contract extension. Although many believed that a decision wouldn’t be made until season’s end, the situation escalated fast on Wednesday morning with numerous reports that a significant press conference was upcoming.
The Canucks have officially announced that they have re-signed Jim Benning to a multi-year contract extension. According to Elliotte Friedman, it appears that it’s a three-year extension ending after the 2020-21 season.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) February 14, 2018
Jim Benning: “I’m grateful to the Aquilini family and to Trevor Linden for the commitment they’ve made to me and for their confidence in our long-term vision for the Vancouver Canucks. I’m excited about the direction of our team and the depth and talent we continue to build. I believe we are on the right track and I am pleased to continue the work we started four years ago when we set out to build a championship team.”
Trevor Linden: “With Jim’s guidance and leadership we have put the building blocks in place for a bright future. We have strong internal alignment and I am excited to continue working towards our ultimate goal of bringing a Stanley Cup to Vancouver.”
Prior to the official press release, Trevor Linden sent a personal letter to season ticket holders, in which he preached patience and praise for some of the work that Benning has done in the past four years.
— Rob Williams (@RobTheHockeyGuy) February 14, 2018
The President-GM duo of Linden and Benning is polarizing. For all of their proponents, there are an equal amount of critics. Make no mistake, they arrived when the organization was in a fragile state. Ownership placed a difficult mandate in which the team was to stay competitive while simultaneously incorporating younger players. Throughout the process, there were many hits and misses.
The obvious commendable moves include the drafting of Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson, although one may also be naive to think Pettersson is an automatic elite NHL player. Benning’s positive scouting reputation was furthered with the likes of Adam Gaudette, Kole Lind, Jonathan Dahlen, and Thatcher Demko. On the other hand, detractors will be quick to point out arguable ‘misses’ in the decision to draft Olli Juolevi, Jake Virtanen, and Rodrigo Abols.
From the trade and signing perspectives, it’s been a wave of inconsistencies. The acquisition of Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, and Derrick Pouliot have been bright spots, and Erik Gudbranson headlines the list of arguably detrimental moves made by Benning.
The extension of Benning’s contract garners neither overwhelming nor minimal support. Like many fellow general managers throughout the league, his record falls within the 50/50 split between the hits and the misses. There have been many storylines, both good and bad, in the four years that Benning has taken the reigns. Much of his success is attributed to his scouting, though only time will tell with regards to how the prospects turn out. As a result, it may be a few years before fans will be able to decifer how well Benning has done, and will continue to do, as the Canucks’ general manager.