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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

CanucksArmy Roundtable: Three More Years!

In case you somehow missed it, the Canucks have come to terms on a contract extension with general manager Jim Benning for three seasons, ending speculation about where his future lies.

To say that was a divisive decision on the Canucks’ part would be an understatement. To judge by Canucks Twitter, it was about a 50/50 split between sheer adulation and utter despair. There was very little happening in between. Such is a hockey-crazed Canadian market like Vancouver.

There’s been no shortage of digital ink spent on this topic to date, and I don’t expect that to change for the next week or so, too. With that, I’ve asked all the CanucksArmy contributors to offer up their opinions on the matter.

Vanessa Jang

I don’t mind it, mostly because it would be pretty hectic if another GM were to come in and essentially go through another “rebuild” according to his own plan. I’m not ecstatic by his extension, but I’m cautiously optimistic. I’d give Benning/Linden another two years because then we’d get a better sense of what the team looks like when the prospects have gone further in their development.

That said, there was a part of me that really hoped the organization would look hard at Julien BriseBois from Tampa.

Janik Beichler

I’m not exactly excited about it, but it’s not like it’s the end of the world either. Benning had a lot of excuses coming in, with a lot of existing no-trade clauses and perhaps having to do what ownership wanted every once in a while. From this point on, there will be no excuses. Everything that’s coming will be on him, and I’m almost looking forward to seeing what he can do with that.

Cory Hergott

I am fine with the Benning extension. Any new GM would want to put their stamp on the team and likely tell the owners what they wanted to hear and chase the playoffs. Moves would be made and people would disagree with them and we would have to go through another round of why the new guy sucks at his job.

I know that this management group has its share of warts, but they have also done some good work. Clearly, there is plenty of work still to do, but I do see something to be excited about coming soon. Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, Adam Gaudette, Thatcher Demko, Jonathan Dahlen, Jake Virtanen, and Olli Juolevi are all players that I can get behind. Sure, they may not all pan out, but they are leaps and bounds above what has been in this pipeline in the past. I feel like this management team did good work at the last deadline and in the draft. If Benning did indeed get three years, I can live with it. It will give his picks some time to develop as well as give him time to add a few more prospects to the cupboard.

Catherine Silverman

The extension itself is not great. Maybe a bridge deal would have been nice? But that being said, I heard a bit of bandying around about Ken Holland, and I think that, between him and Benning, Benning is the better man for this current job. I don’t necessarily think that Benning has done the best job – in the Pacific, he’s one of the lower GMs out of those with more than a year of experience – but we can’t deny that he has a mixed bag as a drafting record at the very least, whereas Ken Holland has bungled the last few drafts for Detroit while simultaneously sinking them into even deeper holes financially. The Danny Dekeyser extension was atrocious, his drafting over the last two years was worth writing off completely, and he’s managed to somehow end up with both his best young goaltender and one of his key forwards hanging in RFA limbo heading into the offseason. I’d rather see Benning for another few years while the team evaluates who else may be out there – but given that they’re nearing the end of the season and that was the name bandied about, they made the right choice.

Always90Four

The extension itself is not great. Maybe a bridge deal would have been nice? But that being said, I heard a bit of bandying around about Ken Holland, and I think that, between him and Benning, Benning is the better man for this current job. I don’t necessarily think that Benning has done the best job – in the Pacific, he’s one of the lower GMs out of those with more than a year of experience – but we can’t deny that he has a mixed bag as a drafting record at the very least, whereas Ken Holland has bungled the last few drafts for Detroit while simultaneously sinking them into even deeper holes financially. The Danny Dekeyser extension was atrocious, his drafting over the last two years was worth writing off completely, and he’s managed to somehow end up with both his best young goaltender and one of his key forwards hanging in RFA limbo heading into the offseason. I’d rather see Benning for another few years while the team evaluates who else may be out there – but given that they’re nearing the end of the season and that was the name bandied about, they made the right choice.

  • Silverback

    A bridge deal for a GM = a lame duck GM. You either show confidence in him or sign someone else. Personally I am happy with this extension. Make this upcoming draft count. We may be out of lottery territory this year or next.

  • wojohowitz

    Has the team bottomed out yet? A year from now are they going to be better, worse or the same and then there is two years from now? When do they turn that corner and start the long haul to the top?

    Reading rave reviews about Bob Esche and Ryan Johnson. Are they being groomed as the back up plan?

  • argoleas

    I concur with the consensus: This is now fully Linden’s and Benning’s team. No more ‘blame previous regime’ excuses. All FA signings from now on are their responsibility. Continued drafting success is a must. Current prospects must pan out at a reasonable rate.

    Now, I fully expect this team to not make the playoffs next yr. I do expect an upward trajectory in the season after that, even if team misses the playoffs. But third year must be about success.

  • canuckfan

    Resigning Benning was a good deal. I think the owners pay to much attention to what is being said out in the general community such as “sign Eriksson or Lucic” social media was going crazy that Canucks needed to sign one of those free agents that summer and better not cheap out. Owner stepd up shells out the money and boom both players are now seen as bad signings. But I believe Eriksson is doing well playing a role other than scoring. He may still get 20 goals so will see.

    • TMC

      People complain about the Erikson signing but at the time he was coming off a 30 goal 60+ point season and had previously looked great with the Sedins internationally… the term was too long but that’s probably what it took to get him, I don’t think anyone foresaw how little he’d produce. Hard to really blame Benning for that one, sometimes players just don’t do their part.

    • apr

      Ladd is worse, and Oksposo is hardly tearing it up as well. Lucic is too fat to catch up with Mcdavid. That whole top end of the FA class is tire fire. Unfortunately, when JB went for smaller priced items in the following year with Gagner, Del Zotto, and Vanek – only one has worked out. And as much as we all like Vanek, I would give up no more than a 4th round pick if I were an opposing GM given what you can get. My spidey senses tell me that JB has a very, very short rope in future FA signings and contract extensions. The extension was more for Trevor to bide a little more time.

  • TD

    A three year deal is a two year deal for GM’s. My biggest fear was having Benning do something stupid at the trade deadline case he was still trying to earn his extension. Personally, I think this extension was a sign that ownership had too much input over the first couple of years. He gets two years to see how his prospects are working out. He will get fired or another extension after the first two years. They don’t have to be a playoff team, it need to be moving in the right direction.

  • Ser Jaime Lannister

    IMO 3 years isnt enough time to see this through. Next year is going to be a bottom 5 finish, following year will prob be 7-10 range, and by the third season you would hope we would be middle of the pack maybe fighting for a wild car spot but that could be a stretch. Prospects need time to develope, still major gaping holes in this lineup that need to be addressed and i dont want JB to try and make a shortcut with some stupid trade or FA signing thats going to set us back. I can see fourth or fifth year where we are starting to take shape, these early years are crucial for draft and deveolpment, use our cap space wisely, take on some bad contracts 1-3 years, couple of FA signings for flipping purposes and DRAFT!!!!!

    • defenceman factory

      Before the Canucks are legitimate contenders they probably need 3 defencemen (not counting the low odds Rathbone turns into something special) that currently are not in the system. They all need to be top 4 and at least one needs to be offensively gifted. Tall order to draft and develop that. A trade or high end FA is likely needed. Now isn’t the time but if, two years from now, Pettersson, Gaudette and Demko have performed as hoped a shortcut to round out the D could be wise.

      • TheRealPB

        Dirk, you and many others have been categorical in decrying the extension as rewarding incompetence. What would you say to the review by these CA writers — by no means a glowing review of JB, but a pretty sober and realistic appraisal of his work as being a mixed bag? I think it’s a pretty fair assessment and doesn’t resort to the extremes that would laud his every move or from the other perspective trash it. There are quite a few things I don’t agree with that he’s done but by and large I think he’s followed the path you have to for rebuilding a franchise on an inevitable downward trajectory and I think it would be a mistake to cast about looking for a new direction right now. Though I would agree that this three year period is all on him, this is a roster and prospect pool that is all his and so too the full weight of blame should it not pan out. There remains only one example of a successful tear-down rebuild that I’ve ever seen — intentional tanking, not signing FA, not rushing prospects into the pros — and that’s the current day leafs. The Blackhawks, Kings and Penguins never ‘tore it down’ but just sucked into getting good draft picks, good trades and good player development. It seems to me that this is the model we are actually following; hopefully we don’t end up with the same kinds of attendance problems you saw in Chicago, LA and Pittsburgh during those down years. Not everyone has the loyal/deluded fans that Canadian franchises can rely on to come to games regardless of the on-ice product.

        • Dirk22

          The whole tank thing is a by-product of tearing it down – it’s not about the team not trying to win but about management making roster decisions for the future instead of right now ie. accumulating picks, prospects for veterans instead of sacrificing some of that to try to be a little better in the present. The Canucks have managed the high picks (which is great) because of poor player acquisitions and without an emphasis on trading veterans for youth/prospects (apart from last year’s deadline which was great). Outside of their regular draft picks, they’ve emphasized the insulation of prospects more than the accumulation of prospects.The team is not ‘competitive’ with the veterans they’ve acquired and the attendance and support have waned anyways.

          A lot is riding on this trade deadline. If he has one similar to last year it’ll be great and will say a lot about what direction he’s going. A Gudbranson contract and no action at the deadline means he hasn’t learned a thing.

          • Beer Can Boyd

            Good point about the “insulating of prospects”. Jeez, just play the damn kids. Green has been much better than RGW, but still. How much are they going to learn on the bench watching Gudbranson, Dowd, or Chaput? And your last paragraph is spot on.

          • TheRealPB

            I don’t disagree with most of this (though I would quibble that trading picks for young players is very different from trading them for vets which is a clearly terrible idea). A Hamhuis/Vrbata debacle helps no one; to me it is pretty obvious that Vanek should go (especially if they’re not going to re-sign him). Any move to re-sign Gudbranson and I will consider giving the next three years a pass…