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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: The HNIC Panel, Hughes vs. Kakko, and Jim Benning’s Future

Before I answer this, I just want to say that the HNIC panel have a tougher job than you might think. Having an intimate knowledge of all 31 NHL teams is hard enough as it is, but condensing that knowledge into easily digestible 30-second soundbites is even more difficult. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that the pundits who make up the HNIC panel might lean on easy narratives once in awhile.

With that out of the way, I think the simplest answer is that it’s a bit of both. A huge part of being a hockey media figure on the national stage is managing relationships with sources, and that’s obviously going to influence what you say whether consciously or unconsciously. That’s doubly true if you don’t have an intimate knowledge of the market you’re covering.

It sounds like the Lockwood camp is still mulling over the decision about whether or not to turn pro. He’s a legitimate prospect but far from a guarantee to make the NHL, so finishing his fourth year of college could be a defensible route to take. I think either way he won’t make the Canucks’ opening roster for the 2019-20 season. Even Adam Gaudette wasn’t a lock to make the opening night roster and he had a far more impressive college career. If he works hard and shows promise, he could earn a call-up at the end of next season, should he decide to turn pro. Hoping for anything more than that would be optimistic at this stage.

Rolling with a Sautner-Schenn third pairing on opening night seems like a bad idea unless the goal is to be in the lottery pciture again next season, which I assume it isn’t if they’re going to go big game hunting in free agency. You could do worse with your seventh at eight defensemen, but I suspect the shallowness of the talent pool would become all too apparent as injuries inevitably hit if the team stood pat with them as a third pairing. That doesn’t mean they need to break the bank and sign a bunch of depth defenders by any means, but they need to be realistic about where they are. If you’re seriously considering icing a third pairing of Ashton Sautner and Luke Schenn, you probably shouldn’tbe chasing any big free agents to begin with.

If he’s truly as comfortable playing both sides as he says he is, I’m not opposed to seeing him play opposite Alex Edler on the right side; but I don’t know how realistic that is. Chris Tanev is the safe answer, but I’m not sure their styles would complement each other and it’s unclear when Tanev is going to be back. If the goal is really to foster Hughes’ creativity and his offensive game, I think you have to at least try him with Troy Stecher. Make no mistake, Stecher can defend, but he can also move the puck and keep up with Hughes’ freestyling. It would seem to me that all signs point to Hughes-Stecher as the best potential first pair the Canucks currently have at their disposal, so you have to believe they’ll try it out eventually. There’s no time like the present.

Frankly, I’m in favour of testing the market on anyone not named Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, or Bo Horvat; but assuming the players that are currently on the roster carry the value on the trade market that I think they do, they may be tied to more than a few other forwards for the time being. I’d tender qualifying offers to Nikolay Goldobin and Josh Leivo, and let Tyler Motte and Markus Granlund walk in free agency. I’d do my best to find takers for Loui Eriksson and Brandon Sutter, and let Adam Gaudette and Zack MacEwen slide in in their absence.

Wingers are, by and large, the easiest position in hockey to replace, so it’s unwise to prioritize drafting one unless they are the best player available. Drafting based on positional need is almost always a bad idea, but it’s especially true in this case. Jack Hughes can be just as much of an impact player at wing, and Elias Pettersson has plenty of experience there, too. Or they could trade Bo Horvat for an elite first-pairing right-handed defender. Or, they could keep all three at centre and boast arguably the best depth at that position in the league in a few years’ time. If Hughes is there, take him. There’s no sense overthinking it.

The Canucks have just had a lot of high-end prospects come out of the NCAA in the past couple of years. Burning the first year of the ELC has become increasingly common with prospects out of college who project as difference-makers, I wouldn’t think too much of it.

I’ve taken the test three or four times and it always comes back the same: Slytherin. I always saw myself as more of a Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw, but who am I to argue with the Sorting Hat?

The question of what house I belong in, however, is far less interesting to me than the concept of houses in general. By sorting children into separate factions (at eleven years old, I might add), Hogwarts encourages a deterministic view of skills and values. Bravery or intelligence are attributes you inherit via divine right rather than skills you can hone over time by working at them. It’s not the foundation for a solid education. So, any conversation on the topic should begin by pointing out that the house system is inherently reactionary and should be abolished.

I would imagine that Brock Boeser, Nikolay Goldobin, Josh Leivo, Tyler Motte, Ben Hutton, and Thatcher Demko are all tendered qualifying offers at the very least before the real negotiations begin in earnest. I would guess that the Canucks will elect to move on from Derrick Pouliot and Yan-Pavel LaPlante, but Markus Granlund could go either way. He’s a cheap utility forward and if the Canucks make any big trades to open up room for a free agent or two you could do worse on your fourth line. It will probably depend on who’s in charge when it’s time for those decisions to be made.

I’m gonna go with the latter, since it sounds like most of the work is already done. Can’t say the same for the Canucks.

I would say that based on the body of work, Jim Benning would appear to believe in pretty traditional blueprint for building a competitive team, where players have clearly defined roles, and the goal is to get the best possible player at that role. I think that’s basically the only way you can explain paying a premium for players like Jay Beagle and Brandon Sutter, rather than going bargain hunting or looking for more offensively-minded players to play in the bottom-six. It’s possible he’s deviated from that more recently, but that would seem to be the general theme going back through his transaction history.

Matthew Dolmage actually just put out a piece on this very subject this morning that’s absolutely worth your time if this question interests you. The short answer is yes… under the right circumstances.

Some folks in this market seem to believe Jim Benning’s days as Canucks GM are already numbered. I’m less convinced, and would say the odds he’s still GM at the start of next season at around 50/50. I can’t see him surviving into 2020-2021 if they don’t make the playoffs next year, though. How many GMs can survive five straight years of missing the postseason?

Before I get to the actual question, I have to say that I disagree with your opening statement. Bo Horvat was acquired under the Gillis regime, so the statement that he didn’t add top-end talent rings false even before you factor in whether or not players like Dan Hamhuis, Christian Ehrhoff, and Jacob Markstrom qualify. I bring that up because I assume this is the statement that prompted your question in the first place:

I’d say that assuming J.D. is referring to Bo Horvat, this statement is 100% correct and basically inarguable. Before the addition of Brock Boeser into the lineup last season, Bo Horvat was far and away the organization’s best building block, and it wasn’t particularly close.

With that out of the way, I can get to the actual question at hand. Do I feel that the last 5 years have played out predictably based on what Jim Benning inherited? No, not particularly. There were definitely some struggles that faced whoever was bound to take over from Mike Gillis at the end of the 2013-14 season, but that’s true for almost any incoming general manager. I don’t think the Canucks were somehow in a uniquely poor position to begin a rebuild, at least not any more so than other organizations who have managed to turn the corner.

It doesn’t take five years for a draft to bear fruit. Bo Horvat, Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann, Brock Boeser, and Elias Pettersson all played their first game in a Canucks uniform within two years of being drafted. The problem is that the draft isn’t the only way to acquire talent and this organization has done a monumentally terrible job of using those other avenues, in some cases even undoing the good work that occurred at the draft (Jared McCann being the most obvious example).

There were plenty of chances the Canucks had to advance the rebuild effort and they blew it. They drafted a project winger and defensemen with two of their five top-ten picks instead of taking legit first-line talents. They traded away high-value draft picks in deals for veterans designed to keep the team competitive in the short-term, and they spent too much money in free agency on players who haven’t moved the needle for the team at all. They were by no means forced into any of those transactions. It doesn’t take five years for a rebuild to begin heading in the right direction if it’s done properly.

  • Killer Marmot

    If the goal is really to foster Hughes’ creativity and his offensive game, I think you have to at least try him with Troy Stecher.

    Perhaps they could announce the pairing’s height and weight in the aggregate like they do in tag teams wrestling, making their size seem more impressive. “Weighing in at a combined total of 350 lbs…”

  • Killer Marmot

    They drafted a project winger and defensemen with two of their five top-ten picks instead of taking legit first-line talents.

    Yes, it would be nice if every draft pick were perfect. But no team manages that. There were some exceptional picks by Benning as well.

    They traded away high-value draft picks in deals for veterans designed to keep the team competitive in the short-term

    I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about here.

    they spent too much money in free agency on players who haven’t moved the needle for the team at all.

    With three exceptions (Miller, Vrbata, and Eriksson), Benning has kept out of the high-end free agent market. The rest of his signings were in the moderate to low price range, not so much designed to “move the needle” as to fill gaps in the roster. Your complaint seems to be that Benning has not made enough high-end signings.

    • Dirk22

      ‘Every draft pick’ is not a top-6 selection KM. You can’t minimize missing on those. Benning has kept out of the high-end free agent market only because those free agents haven’t considered Vancouver (see John Tavares who Benning out an offer together for). Instead he’s overpaid bottom sixers who have brought nothing of value – except for filling gaps as you put it. He’s gotta go before July 1st – everyone knows it.

      • PotKettleBlack

        He has to go before the draft. Judd Brackett is the drafting guru – everyone with a brain knows it. They just need to tell the imbecile Aquilini.

      • Killer Marmot

        Benning has had five top-ten picks:

        – Virtanen seems destined to be a middle-six winger.
        – Boeser was a Calder Trophy candidate.
        – Juolevi has been slow to develop, but seems on the verge of entering the NHL.
        – Pettersson will win the Calder Trophy.
        – Hughes is … ask me in a week.

        Not a perfect record, but not terrible either. See Oilers, Edmonton for that. It’s not as easy as it looks at home. Those fans who demand perfection are not living in the real world.

        • kermit

          The Oilers were gifted a bunch of first overall picks and are still stuck in the mud. Part of their failure is due to not finding many players in the later rounds. The only ones on their roster are Jujhar Khaira, drafted in the 3rd in 2012, and Tobias Rieder, drafted in the 4th in 2011. Tyler Pitlick, who now plays for The Wild, was taken by the Oil as the first pick of the second round in 2010, so he was almost a first rounder.

          Benning on the other hand, has been very successful at finding talent after of the first round.

        • Goon

          The problem with this argument, to me, is that people usually cite Benning’s drafting as excusing his other flaws as GM.

          Benning’s drafting has been good, but it has not been impeccable. It has not been so good that it excuses him being sub-par in every other respect.

          • Killer Marmot

            No manager is impeccable at drafting, but Benning is better than most. He’s miles ahead of Gillis, although that’s not saying much.

            I don’t see Benning as “sub-par in every other respect.” Most of his transactions seem quite solid.

          • Goon

            I’m not really sure how you can say that, given the state of the team. I don’t need to rehash his record ad nauseum, but if he were significantly above-average in drafting and solid in other respects, this team wouldn’t be chasing a bottom-five finish again, five years into his tenure.

        • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

          And those fans who believe that a GMs draft record is the only thing that matters are delusional. How about you address Bennings communication record, his trading record, his cap management record, his ability to problem solve, his ability to think outside the box and be proactive, his pro scouting, his refusal to surround himself with more people other than John (his twin yes man).

      • KGR

        Dirk That may be your opinion – “He’s gotta go before July 1st”. I’ll happily give Benning another year then make a decision. A GM would have to be insanely good and lucky to have turned the Canucks around in the last three years. The first two were not rebuild years. Personally I am not worried about making the playoffs next year, (hopefully continued improvement). We do not have enough good prospects yet and need at least one more high draft pick. Cheers

        • Dirk22

          Not about the record KGR. They could have made the playoffs this year and it wouldn’t make a lick of difference. Besides their allotted picks, what have they acquired in the last 5 years that’s going to help lift them to contention in the future? It’s insane we still have to have this conversation.

          • Bucket

            Nobody wanted to come here for the last 5 years because we were about to rebuild and were seriously in decline. Anyone we did sign would be gone in the next year or 2, if not already because generally players don’t stay more than 5 to 7 years at a club. We were maxed out on salary until recently and we have had very little to offer other teams that might attract them to trade us great players, other than our first round picks which we weren’t going to trade anyway. So unless some GM wanted to just offer us a great player and pay most of his salary for us in exchange for ‘future considerations’ then I can understand why we have made the moves we have. As much as I’m glad we didn’t sign Lucic, cast your mind back. He turned down playing in his home city so he could play with McDavid. He saw a better chance for himself playing in Edmonton and went there. How many others chose to go elsewhere and not join a rebuild? It is probably why we have overspent as well because if you are going to convince me to join a losing team you better pay good! Now hopefully this year at free agency, some players might be excited about playing with Pettersson and will want to sign here now that we have some cap space and exciting prospects and a future but if Benning fails to sign or attract anyone of significance this year then I’ll jump on the fire Benning bandwagon.

          • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

            What’s insane is how often Benning defenders will deflect to his 2 successful draft picks to date and refuse to even acknowledge the fact he is the only GM of a rebuilding team has has inexplicably completely failed to acquire even one single draft pick in like 1700+ days at the job. Simply mind blowing that his entire regime of only accomplishing the bare minimum has lowered the bar of what is deemed acceptable that he has this small army of defenders who refuse to open their eyes and admit that a GMs job has a ton of other responsibilities beyond amateur scouting.

            The guy never should have been the opportunity to advance beyond a head scout as he clearly doesn’t seem to care about any other facets of his job description.

    • kermit

      The trading away of high value draft picks probably refers to the 53rd overall traded away for Vey in 2015, and the 33rd overall in 2016 traded away in the Gudbranson deal.

      • Killer Marmot

        Except that neither Vey nor Gudbranson fit the mold of “veterans designed to keep the team competitive in the short-term.” Vey’s career had hardly begun, and Gudbranson was a 24 year old who the Canucks seemed intent on keeping for many years.

        I don’t really don’t know who McDonald was referring to.

        • Egad, I have to agree with Jackson about Benning “blowing it” with the Vey and Gudbranson trades. However, I’ll indict Benning in a different way. Rather than questioning Benning’s competence, I question his focus. He acquired Vey for Desjardins and Gudbranson “to give the fans something,” whatever that meant at the time. But in both cases, he executed a trade to cater to someone else’s demands rather than focusing on preserving assets and acquiring guys that he really wanted. These cases of appeasement were an error in hindsight but should have been avoided at the time.

        • Goon

          Don’t forget that the Canucks gave up a 2nd-round pick as part of the trade to bring in Brandon Sutter. I imagine Jackson was specifically thinking about Sutter and Gudbranson. You can quibble with whether Gudbranson qualified as a “veteran” (he had a couple hundred games of experience by the time he came to Vancouver, so I’d say he does) but in both cases, the Canucks gave up 2nd-round picks and a high-end prospect or solid roster player and ended up getting worse.

    • wojohowitz

      Looks like I got that backwards. Here`s the tweet;
      Patrick Johnston‏Verified account @risingaction · Mar 9

      Patrick Johnston Retweeted Jackson McDonald

      It was after the loss to the Sharks in 2012-13. Gillis went to ownership with a plan to rebuild – trading vets, loading up on picks- and was told no. Playoff revenue was the priority.

  • Killer Marmot

    I don’t think the Canucks were somehow in a uniquely poor position to begin a rebuild, at least not any more so than other organizations who have managed to turn the corner.

    I disagree. When Gillis left, there were two good players in the system under the age of 24: Horvat and Hutton, both of them prospects at the time. There was also Gaunce, a fringe NHLer. Apart from that, the cupboard was bare.

    • PotKettleBlack

      Looks like Goon has turned into his alter-ego Marmot after getting called out for flooding the threads!

      Who cares about age(ism)… Markstrom, Edler, Tanev, Horvat, Hutton, Biega, McEneny and Gaunce were all already in the org and still are, as were scouting gurus Brackett, Hammarstrom and Gradin who brought in Petersson – the cupboards were FAR from bare, that’s just another fairytale from the ignorant and ill-informed like Marmot.

      Outstanding management, especailly considering that the Canucks were *so* good they only had ONE top nine pick between 2008-2013… and that pick was used on BOWIE HORVAT. Wow!!!!!!!!!

        • DogBreath

          Yeah, honestly. This site would be so much better if there was intelligent debate, not childish mudslinging. Maybe a great, small article to post one day would be about the rules of engagement (and why) in the comments section.

        • PotKettleBlack

          Hahahaha. Says who. Get lost Marmit you little nobody. I run the show around here, don’t you know that by now.

          Now, get up and dance on your hind legs for me like Dud and the rest of you windowlickers.

      • KGR

        PKB I liked Gillis; but, he sold the farm trying to win the cup. His only big weakness was his drafting record. Your above response to Marmot does not negate his statement. We only had two B prospects when Gillis left. We are fortunate that Horvat has exceeded expectations. Out of your second group, only Tanev and Edler were actually NHL capable players at the time.

      • Cageyvet

        They traded a genuine top-flight goalie for a top 10 pick, that’s always a gamble. It worked out, but it it was still risky, and a move that was due to poor handling of the goaltending position, not foresight.

        Gillis and company were below average at the draft table, end of story. He built on a solid team and gave it a hell of a shot, you can’t slam Gillis for going for it. It would have been great to not hand out all the no-trades, but it was part of building a true cup contender. One more game and they’d have built a statue of him, and who cares if the team craters for a few years.

        That’s the cycle, people, we just don’t have the euphoria of a cup to carry us through it.

    • Fred-65

      Credit where it’s due Gillis brought in
      Horvat the best player by a country mile Pre Pettersson
      Tanev top pairing D
      Markstrom an astute choice
      Hutton a 5th round steal
      Erhoff a great trade
      Andrew Alberts we could do with a player like that right now
      and my personell favourite Shane O’Brien who unfortunately put his private life style ahead of his professional life style but man there’s a kid that could throw them down and still play the game LOL

  • MattyT

    Speaking of ‘offensive help’, can I just say a huge congrats to superstar Matthew Tkachuk, who scored his first hatty in the Flames demolition job of the excellent Vegas Knights club!!!!

    That’s 29 goals and counting and 164 points in 213 career games for the young future hall-of-famer. This is the ‘offensive help’ the Canucks so desperately needed and still do… but the draft guru passed on this wonderful kid for the injury bust Juolevi.

    An absolute howler that will go down as one of the biggest mistakes in Canucks history, alongside trading McCann and Dahlen… both on FIRE for other clubs. When will this Benning nightmare end… #firebenning

    • PotKettleBlack

      That’s on Bettman and the league, no one else. Gillis and Gilman played the system like a piano but the NHL blew it and made the teams pay. Nice try though troll.

      • Braindead Benning

        Exactly, MG & LG circumvented what the league did not pay attention too.. They were within Thier rights.. Just look at the LE contract and the front loaded bonuses teams are handing out.. Are they going to penalize that??

    • KGR

      I agree with PKB here. That is all on Bettman and the league. Gillis was doing what he had to do to keep the team intact under the Salary cap. IMO Luongo would still be here if not for Torts.

  • Burnabybob

    I wouldn’t assume Horvat is the better “building block” than Horvat. Boeser has had a stronger start to his career, despite being taken later in the draft than Horvat.

  • North Van Halen

    Jackson lays out a fair argument on Benning’s tenure, little shade or hyperbole just stating the facts, there are definitely things Benning could have/should have done better. I always disagree when people blame him for the direction the first couple of years, Aquillini was never allowing the tear down but the eschewing of draft picks baffles me and the pro player evaluation has been atrocious. I’ve long said I think Benning deserves the chance to finish what he started (1

    • Kootenaydude

      Benning was trying to draft and develop top players. Not trying get them via free agency. You have to realize, if you’re a rebuilding team like the Canucks. UFAs won’t want to play here and Benning has to overpay. I’d rather have him overpay for a few mid priced players. Then overpay for a bunch of high end UFAs.

        • DogBreath

          They haven’t been good the last few years, so they’ve overpaid for mediocrity (players who are largely placeholders through the rebuild). It’s an acceptable strategy if it helps the team through this phase and doesn’t get in the way when they need cap space for their young players. When they are rebuilt and hopefully challenging for a cup, they better not overpay mediocrity.

          • Bartholomew Gimble

            It’s not so much that they’ve overpaid in dollars per year, but the term of these free agent contracts that has been the problem. Beagle should have been three years max, for example.

      • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

        You speak as if those two options are/were the only options on the table? This is why people question his competence. His inability to pursue alternate options, think outside the box, be proactive….neverending story with Benning…. SMH

        • DogBreath

          Would I have preferred they weaponize their cap space to get more draft picks? Of course. It’s one thing to say that and another to convince the Aquilini’s to waste millions. Not sure that’s in their DNA. I don’t hold that against Benning.

    • Cageyvet

      I’m in total agreement NVH, and I often point out he was a rookie GM, and like all rookies, you live with their mistakes and hope they learn from them.

      I see a GM who seems to have learned from many of his mistakes. It’s notable that, short of the incessant whining about contracts for the free agents this year, most of the crap hurled his away is from the first couple of years.

      Better trades, better trade deadline asset management, not handing out no-trade clauses in contracts, no crippling free agent blunder since Eriksson, no blown first round picks, and no trading of our top picks for anything, just holding them.

      If I see improvement overall in a guy who is overseeing the best drafting this franchise has ever seen, I’m riding him a while longer.

      • Braindead Benning

        I see a GM who seems to have learned from many of his mistakes. It’s notable that, short of the incessant whining about contracts for the free agents this year, most of the crap hurled his away is from the first couple of years.

        Then explain the old Gagner & Gunbranson contracts 2017 (Spooner & Pearson) = a wash in money and no better… Now add Beagle and Shaller in 2018 contracts that add up to around
        Spooner =4
        Pearson =4
        Shaller =1.8
        Beagle = 4
        Sutter = 4

        Basically like 20 million for that crap of players that have scored a combined total of 20 goals… And never even retained a draft pick…

        This is stupidity at its finest levels.

        • Bud Poile

          Beagle,Sutter and Pearson are NHL players that would be welcome on most clubs.
          Schaller was a mere depth signing whom had a respectable season last year.
          Spooner is a tweener but may still find a home in Vancouver.
          Since the only player that cost Benning a draft pick was Sutter ( and that was a second for a third) the Cancks have three NHL players for what is essentially cash.
          There is nothing but grinding of brain cells here to go with some whine.

      • Braindead Benning

        Call me braindead all you want but the numbers never lie man. Just look at the blanket boy in TO (just for example)he almost has more goals then the list of players have for Points..

        So DimJim does not learn from past experiences he compounds that by getting worse so to speak

        • Bud Poile

          There was squat in the prospect pool from six dead years of Gillis DnD.
          Superior FA’s aren’t lining up outside Roger’s hoping to go to a rebuild.
          Let’s pull the best free agents and pay them squat so they’ll go to a rebuild.
          Yeah,that’s it. Brilliant idea.

        • DogBreath

          But your numbers are wrong. Spooner $3.1, Beagle $3.0, Pearson $3.75 and Sutter $4.375. Spooner is a UFA after next season, Sutter is likely traded for pennies on the dollar given his recent injuries. I’m OK with the overpay on Beagle for now and if (big if) Pearson turns his game around, that’s not bad $$ for a player of his type.

          • PotKettleBlack

            … the trolls keep parroting that everything is just fine after FOUR straight years of bottomfeeding and no playoffs in Vancouver under a GM who said in 2014 “this is a team we can turnaround in a hurry”.

            Real fans love their team and want them WINNING games and securing playoff hockey and hold management accountable for their lies, ineptitude and failure to deliver.

            Who exactly are the trolls here, brainache?

        • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

          How many more yrs for Benning to figure out that adding draft picks is not prohibited by the CBA? Or is this too much to hope for from a rookie GM?

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      Agreed completely ☺️. Just not with your last sentence that he deserves to finish what he started, cause nobody knows what he started. This is based on the constant questioning of his direction/moves to date (especially in the past 3yrs of the alleged rebuild).

  • TD

    I know the league has gotten smaller and faster, but I’m not convinced that Hughes and Stetcher would be good together. Edler was bad on Saturday, but Stetcher was besiade him unable to move Tuch away from the net or regent the tips. I also don’t know that Hughes needs another free wheeling d man as a partner. Finally (on this point), Stetcher is proving he can be a good d man, but thinking that Hughes will be ready to be a first pairing d man as a 20 year old is putting way too much pressure on him. Let Edler and Stetcher be the first pairing and let Hughes play as a 2nd or 3rd pairing with Tanev or on his off side with Hutton. Maybe Hughes can be a number 1 guy at 20, but the chances are he won’t be. He may be an offensive dynamo right off the bat, but struggle in his own end.

    Gillis was good at identifying and signing pro talent, but it was also easier to attract quality free agents because they were a cup contender. Pointing to Horvat as the player Gillis left behind kind of proves just how bad he was at drafting. One young player and no prospects was a horrific state for Benning to take over. I doubt any team had less in the cupboards. All the legit talent on the team was old and had no trade clauses. That doesn’t excuse Bennings mistakes and there have been lots of those to go with a reasonable amount of successes. I’m less worried about his bad picks, which aren’t great but should still be players with long careers and more worried about his free agent signings.

  • IF

    In assesing Bennings performance, you continue to ignore the role that ownership played in setting the team mission and directives. Aquillini wanted to retool. That was obvious from who he hired as President and the communications from every senior official. The only people that seemed to have a problem with that direction were the coaches. If you recall both Torts and Willie seemed at odds with “the plan”. Could be they were not impressed with the retool option although Benning clearly understood who butters his bread.

    • Dirk22

      So even if that’s the case – that ownership wanted a ‘retool’ – they could not have done a worse job. Literally the worst record in the league over the past 4 years.

      • DogBreath

        Yup, they wanted to retool and it failed. This stuff happens in an imperfect world. The LE signing obviously was a key to the failure. However, when you look back at that time and evaluate the thinking, it was largely defensible (even the so called experts lauded the signing – at least the first few years of it). LE had demonstrated decent prior production, had jelled well with Sedins on the National team and the thinking was he could extend their effective play. There weren’t many (if any?) opposing voices at the time. Well, we all know how that turned out, and the gamble effectively was a failure, which we live with today.

        • Bud Poile

          The Canucks were looking for goals in free agency, and they ended up with the second-best winger on the market, one who was arguably the best goal scorer and the best fit with the twins.
          Jason Botchford
          July 1st, 2016

          “I like him a lot. He’s not just a guy playing with the Sedins. He will contribute for a long time in Vancouver.” Ray Ferraro

          Boston tried for months to sign Eriksson, even keeping him at the trade deadline. At the end, they remained far apart in negotiations.
          SB Nation

          • Goon

            Some people were wrong at the time about Eriksson. What is your point?

            At the time, the Eriksson signing was a bad one. The team was not on track to be competitive. Lets say Eriksson ended up staying healthy and being a 20-goal, 55 point player for the first two or three years of his contract. Would that have made the difference between the Canucks being a bottom-five team and making the playoffs, or being a cup contender? Absolutely not. It might have lifted them two spots in the standings. It’s a mistake to pay big money for that, and that’s just looking at the short term. The Canucks should have been looking at the long term, recognizing the team was not going to be competitive in the first couple of years of Eriksson’s deal, and should have realized that he was not going to be a particularly useful player at 35 – certainly not one worth $6 million.

            There is simply *no* justification for the Eriksson signing. You say “well that was the market price for him”. Fine. So don’t sign him.

          • DogBreath

            Goon, I don’t disagree that the Canucks should have been looking long term. However, the owner decided he wanted to extend the run while bringing in someone who had a successful draft record to backfill prospects, fill their age gap (ie, Baertschi trades) and hope not to bottom out (per the vaunted Detroit model). Within that lens, signing LE was probably a defensible signing. If it had worked, it would have been fantastic. It didn’t, so they moved on to the rebuild. Benning is the right person to guide them through this stage. We’ll see how things progress in the future.

          • Bud Poile

            So,the Canucks make the playoffs with a 48-29-5 record the previous season under Benning but the twins need help and they lose Vrbata and you say do nothing.
            Most everybody in this market saw the Eriksson signing as a good one,though long in term.
            Your rant is more of your redundant Benning bashing.

          • Goon

            And you say the team was just coming off a good season (they weren’t, by the way, they were coming off of one of the worst seasons in franchise history) and needed to make this move?

            Okay. Why was the team dreadful the next year? The year after that? The year after that? If the Eriksson signing was such a good move, where are the results? I made the argument above for why it was a bad move at the time, and it’s *objectively* a bad move in retrospect.

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      Thanks for your assessment of his first 2yrs on the job. Now defend his last 3 and why acquiring more of those things he’s actually good at is so damn difficult for him?

  • IF

    In terms of assets leftover from the Gillis era. Try not to underestimate the impact of so many no trade and limited trades contracts that hamstrung the organization. You talk about it being so long ago but it seems that Edlers NTC is still an issue this year.
    Parading Horvat as a winning holdover from the Gillis administration begs the question on why the canucks think they need another 20 players on the roster to win the cup? Your Benning flash is so entrenched and so obvious that you done disservice to canucks fans who could use sone objective commentary from a supposedly statistically objective perspective.

    • Dirk22

      Your argument would make sense if it weren’t for the fact management wants to re-sign Edler. Other than him most of the NTC’s were moved….they just then burned the assets trying to be ‘competitive’.

  • Kootenaydude

    I find that the HNIC crew has a heck of a lot more knowledge than most of the local media and fans. They have seen many rebuilds to many teams. They know these things take time. They see the young talent the Canucks will have in the future. You have a handful of negative Vancouver journalists finding negative stories just for click bait. A lot of them are no better qualified than the average fan. I just don’t see a lot of credibility in many of these Vancouver journalists. Too much opinion. Not enough facts. Self appointed experts with little to no NHL experience.

  • Sharpshooter

    I was thinking of an interesting hypothetical in the Hughes vs Kaako debate.
    If a team wins the first overall, and Colorado (via Ottawa) gets the second and 10-13 (their own), do you trade the first overall for:
    a) #2, and # 10-13?
    b) #2 and Makar?
    c) What if they have picks #2 and #3 or #4 (a super long shot)?

    • Cageyvet

      The quality of the trade tells my brain to do the deal. The thought of the two brothers clicking in a special way, especially if you believe Jack Hughes is the BPA at number one, is too much for me to pass up. Take Jack and don’t piss off Quinn, and keep their contracts staggered so they’re never free to both walk away at the same time, lol.

      • Sharpshooter is talking about Colorado trading up for Hughes, not Vancouver.

        If I was Sakic, I would draft Kaako and try to use the #10-13 to acquire a legit 2C because they cannot continue as a one-line team. They need Makar who will be ready soon. Maybe Landeskog plus the #10-13 can get them a 1C and then they could run Rantanen-MacKinnon and Kaako-1C. They could roll two first lines for nearly 40 minutes per game, what a nightmare.

        • Cageyvet

          You read my response wrong, or I wrote it poorly. The scenario I was describing was as sharpshooter described, but using the Canucks as the lottery winner who hold the Hughes ticket. The Canucks option is to trade down, or not, but yes it involves Colorado trading up for Hughes.

          • MattyT

            Yeah, like any of your ‘scenarios’ are credible after scrawling garbage like this cagey…

            “I love Tryamkin, and have high hopes for Pedan.” – Cageyvet

            “Gudbrandson is NOT a mediocre player” Cageyvet

            Sign this laugher up for coaching D, he makes Baumgartner look good hahaha Boom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Bud Poile

    Every win and loss won’t change the direction of the franchise.
    It’s fair to believe that the Canucks will struggle this season, in large part due to the departure of the Sedin twins and their production hopefully being replaced by the young guns.
    Those guys will struggle to produce every night but there will flashs of potentional.
    So, enjoy the good times, understand there will be some rough stretches, and leave the high horse in the garage until there is tangible outcome.

    How to enjoy the 2018-19 Canucks
    Ryan Biech
    https://canucksarmy.com/2018/08/14/how-to-enjoy-the-2018-19-canucks/

  • OMAR49

    Regarding the Gillis vs. Benning question. Mike Gillis did a very job of acquiring players that put the Canucks over the top and allowed them to go to the Stanley Cup finals. Yes, he did draft Horvat, but he had to give up Schneider to do it and after the Luongo fiasco the team was left with a goal tending problem. Benning, on the other hand took over a team with aging veterans that were all on NTC’s. The problem was compounded as a result of an unexpectedly good season in 2014/15 which led ownership and management to think they could do a controlled rebuild which, in hind sight was the wrong decision. Benning has made a number of mistakes but, he has drafted well and with Horvat, Boeser, Pettersson, Hughes, Demko and Gaudette has created a reasonably strong nucleus from which to build on for the future. Obviously, the Defense needs a lot of work and they have to find a couple of scoring wingers for the Horvat line. Benning may not be the man we need to fine tune the rebuild but I suspect ownership will give him another year to try and if there is no tangible improvement by next year they will move on.

    • Well said. But rather than turfing Benning, I think an intermediate step is to try to find him an Assistant GM that can help him with UFA and trades. We have Brackett to help with drafting, why not in other areas? We have never had a GM that could accumulate some much roster talent in so few drafts. The fact that he’s been able to select players with high upside and accomplishments outside of the 1st round (e.g. Demko, DiPietro, Lockwood, Gaudette, Woo, Madden, Utunen) is the quality that allows a team to build sustainable through the draft. Add a few more wildcards like Lind, Gadjovich, Jasek, and Rathbone and that’s a heck of a lot of potential in only 5 drafts.

      • liqueur des fenetres

        Do you believe that Benning is self aware enough to hire a guy to help him out in that manner? At least with a President in place there was a way to get the consensus to promote Brackett, but right now you are basically saying that owner should waltz in and say “Jim, you’re doing a fine job but this guy’s going to be coming in to handle all trades since you’ve been looking so pale lately.”

        • Ownership *should* be having frank discussions with management, especially when performance doesn’t meet expectations. But the way how you have characterized it, you’ve made the situation seem frivolous and taken away any control over the situation by Benning.

          Rather than impose an Assistant GM on Benning, a good approach would be to ask Benning if he feels he needs help in those areas and if so, if he has any recommendations as to who to bring in. If Benning says he doesn’t need help, you’ve got a serious problem as you’ve identified and that needs to be addressed. If he says yes and recommends someone, you don’t hire them blindly but still need to properly vet them. Aquilini also needs to look at it from a systemic perspective, are there other changes that need to be made to improve on these areas?

          I don’t believe that Benning’s situation needs to be binary: status quo or fire him. To improve the drafting situation, they implemented a scouting framework, changed their scouts, promoted Brackett and gave him legitimate ownership over the process. I cannot see why this cannot happen when it comes to identify and signing UFA’s or developing and consumating trades.

        • Gilman may be a good interpreter of the CBA as a lawyer but that doesn’t necessarily make him a good AGM. He had a lousy track record with Arizona, if you look that up.

          Moreover, how the heck do you keep a guy that resents you? Did you listen to Gilman talk about meeting Benning for the first time? Gilman said on TSN Radio (paraphrasing): I walked into the room and saw Benning’s Stanley Cup ring and said “That should have been mine.”

      • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

        Very good points. Does it seem as if FA or JB has any appetite however to add more office personnel to their 2 man show? Benning was asked this exact question at the end of year presser last summer and he gave a confused look before saying “no” (inability to learn/adapt).

  • I am Ted

    I think Gillis left the organization pretty empty. He drafted three NHL regulars during his time here (Horvat, Connaughton, and Hutton). Out of 6 drafts, Gillis drafter three NHL players. That is pathetic. He then hands out NTCs and NMCs and further sewers the Canucks future. JD Burke is a moron to the umpteenth degree and I’d love to punch him in the face. I really would.

    Sure, Gillis added some free agents and lost most of the trades he made. Oh, and a lot of those deals saw him toss away picks. Give me a break. Gillis inherited all of the key pieces to a Cup contender and left them a bottom three team.

    Now, Benning is way better at drafting but hasn’t been good with free agent adds. He is also a bit too conservative and you can’t be that way when you’re a bottom dwelling team. He did have opportunities to make bolder moves but just kinda went with the flow.

    Neither GM is awesome and I am ready to move on from Benning. I am ready to move on from Jimbo. However, I think Benning is doing a better job. Could you imagine how awful this team would be if the GM hiring order was reversed?! Does anyone think Gillis could rebuild a team?! I didn’t think so.

    • PotKettleBlack

      JD would drop you like a hot potato punk, as would I. Two hits, me hitting you…you hitting the ground.

      Don’t believe me, let’s make a date. tick tock… pu$$y.

      • I am Ted

        Anytime. I have no problems taking on either or both. I’ve fought across Canada in martial arts competitions. I get a joy out of beating the piss out of turds like you. Name when and where. I do love to fight.

      • Bud Poile

        Interesting to see ‘I am Ted’ back after PotKettleBlack/PQW/Pheenster/Matty Upchuck repeatedly warned his detractors he would ban others just as he had Ted banned.
        Welcome back,Ted!

        • I am Ted

          He did and I had to spend a lot of money getting a new internet provider soi could get back! S yeh,o i would keep your mouth shut man or you could be next. Don’t pi$$ this psycho off trust me.