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Photo Credit: TSN.ca

The Optimist’s Jim Benning Report Card For 2018/19

Stephan Roget is a Jim Benning apologist. A “meat and potatoes” cultist. A shill for the Acquilini Investment group!

This author has heard it all before, and so we’ll start with a confession—this article is going to have a pro-Jim Benning bias. It’s not because this author is related to Benning, and they’ve never received any money from the Acquilinis—or drinking water, now that we mention it.

Instead, the bias comes from outright, unbridled optimism. There’s always a bright side to everything, and sometimes focusing on that can be a much more enjoyable way to take in the game of hockey—and life in general. This author has plenty of additional thoughts on the bright side of Benning’s tenure that will be shared in a later article, but at the moment we’re focusing on the here and now.

Fortunately, when it comes to Jim Benning’s performance as the GM of the Vancouver Canucks during the 2018/19 season, there’s plenty to be hopeful about. Whereas multiple other writers are waiting in the wings to rake Benning’s season over the coals, this shill is here to present The Optimist’s Jim Benning Report Card For 2018/19.

For the record, we’re taking everything from June 2018 to May 2019 into consideration here—and dividing everything up into convenient transactional categories. Each of those categories will receive a letter grade, and they’ll all be averaged at the end for a final grade.

Trades

Michael Chaput to Chicago Blackhawks for Tanner Kero

June 24, 2018

A small potatoes trade, but a fair one. Kero performed well for the Utica Comets, whereas Chaput spent much of the season in the NHL—albeit for the Montreal Canadiens.

EVEN

 

Michael Carcone to Toronto Maple Leafs for Josh Leivo

December 3, 2018

Leivo didn’t exactly set the world on fire as a Canuck, but he did establish himself as a genuine NHL talent with middle-six potential—which is likely more than will ever be said about Carcone. The latter’s AHL production wasn’t all that much higher than Leivo’s big league production.

WIN

 

Darren Archibald and Anders Nilsson to Ottawa for Mike McKenna, Tom Pyatt, and a 2019 6th Round Pick

January 2, 2019

This trade ultimately amounted to a whole lot of nothing. The Canucks lost McKenna right away and Nilsson found success with the Senators, which might tip the deal in Ottawa’s favour—but the cap space and late pick acquired by the Canucks are probably the most valuable assets, so this one’s a draw.

EVEN

 

Michael Del Zotto to Anaheim Ducks for Luke Schenn and 2020 7th Round Pick

January 16, 2019

Getting anything for Del Zotto—even a slightly retained Del Zotto—has to be considered a win. The fact that the return was a late draft pick and the surprisingly valuable services of Schenn makes this a resounding victory.

WIN

 

2020 7th Round Pick in 2020 to Nashville Predators for Marek Mazanec

February 12, 2019

Benning badly needed a depth goalie, so he traded for one—and paid the lowest possible price. Mazanec didn’t end up playing all that much for the Comets—or all that well—but trading for him was inconsequential and necessary.

EVEN

 

Sam Gagner to Edmonton Oilers for Ryan Spooner

February 16, 2019

A cap dump for cap dump trade that worked out in favour of the Oilers. Spooner badly underperformed his contract as a Canuck and will likely start next season in Utica, whereas Gagner provided solid production for the Oilers and may have resurrected his NHL career. A loss—but a “who cares” sort of loss.

LOSS

 

Erik Gudbranson to Pittsburgh Penguins for Tanner Pearson

February 25, 2019

Both contracts looked equally horrible when this deadline deal occurred, but the Canucks have definitely got more bang for their buck with Pearson thus far. Pearson scored at a greater than 30-goal pace with Vancouver—and while Gudbranson’s play improved after joining the Penguins, he was still very much Erik Gudbranson.

WIN

 

Jonathan Dahlen to San Jose Sharks for Linus Karlsson

February 25, 2019

Another rather inconsequential loss. A prospect of Dahlen’s pedigree should have resulted in a greater return than Karlsson, but it sounds like Dahlen might be headed back to Sweden anyway—so Karlsson could be the more valuable asset as soon as next season.

LOSS

 

Overall Trade Grade:

B

 

Free Agency

Jay Beagle for Four Years @ $3 million

July 1, 2018

Beagle had a solid debut season with the Canucks and made them a better team—as detailed by this author in Beagle’s Year In Review—but it’s still hard to call a contract that will carry him to age 36 anything but a bad deal.

BAD VALUE

 

Antoine Roussel for Four Years @$3 million

July 1, 2018

Roussel was everything Jim Benning hoped for when he signed him—and then some. Roussel’s infectious antagonism was expected, but he also had the best offensive season of his career despite missing 17 games—and he’s still just 29 years old.

GOOD VALUE

 

Tim Schaller for Two Years @ $1.9 million

July 1, 2018

Schaller ended the year a little stronger than he began it, but he’s really not a player that belongs in the NHL—and the Canucks will still be paying him nearly $2 million to man the pressbox next year. This signing always seemed unnecessary.

BAD VALUE

 

Michael Leighton for One Year @ $650K

February 19, 2019

Leighton was an emergency signing, and he did some fine work for the Comets this season. A routine depth contract.

FAIR VALUE

 

Overall Free Agency Grade:

C-

 

Prospect Free Agency

Mitch Eliot, Three-Year ELC

December 14, 2018

Eliot had a solid regular season with the Sarnia Sting, but a terrible playoffs. He’ll likely turn pro next season, but he’s a longshot to ever crack the NHL.

AVERAGE PROSPECT

 

Josh Teves, One-Year ELC

March 12, 2019

Teves looked alright in a one-game audition late in the season, but his ECAC performance suggests an average college free agent signing—far from a guarantee to become an NHL regular.

AVERAGE PROSPECT

 

Jake Kielly, Two-Year ELC

April 1, 2019

Kielly is coming off three good seasons for Clarkson University, but he’s starting out his time in the organization pretty far down the goaltending depth chart—so he’s got a long way to climb.

AVERAGE PROSPECT

 

Brogan Rafferty, One-Year ELC

April 1, 2019

Rafferty earned praise for his two-game audition with the Canucks, and appears to be the college free agent with the most potential—which could be on display in the NHL as soon as next season.

ABOVE-AVERAGE PROSPECT

 

Overall Prospect Free Agency Grade:

C

 

Re-Signings

Markus Granlund for One Year @ $1.475 million

June 22, 2018

It wasn’t the best season of Granlund’s career by any stretch of the imagination, but he still provided more than adequate value for less than $1.5 million.

FAIR VALUE

 

Derrick Pouliot for One Year @ $1.1 million

June 26, 2018

Pouliot had a dreadful season and ran himself out of town—so paying anything for him should be considered poor value, especially when it’s twice the league minimum.

BAD VALUE

 

Sven Baertschi for Three Years @ $3.367 million

July 1, 2018

The only thing stopping Baertschi’s contract from being an excellent value are the concerns over his health. If Baertschi can stay in the lineup for the next two seasons, it will be a more-than-fair deal for the Canucks.

FAIR VALUE

 

Darren Archibald for One Year @$650K

July 3, 2018

Archibald was a valuable AHL veteran and callup option, and he ended up being thrown into a depth trade. This contract was as routine as it gets.

FAIR VALUE

 

Troy Stecher for Two Years @ $2.325 million

July 20, 2018

Stecher’s 2018/19 season was exactly what Jim Benning hoped for out of this bridge contract. Stecher delivered much greater value than his salary would suggest—impressing enough to earn a spot on Team Canada at the World Hockey Championship—and the Canucks get him at that same cap hit for another full year. As a bonus, he’ll still be an RFA when it expires.

GOOD VALUE

 

Jake Virtanen for Two Years @ $1.25 million

July 25, 2018

Virtanen’s bridge contract is an even better value than Stecher’s. Virtanen is younger, paid less, and on the cusp of 20 goals—or perhaps more. As this deal moves into its second year, it stands as a “prove it” contract—which is exactly what Virtanen needs in 2019/20.

GOOD VALUE

 

Thatcher Demko for Two Years @ $1.05 million

April 24, 2019

Demko has yet to truly prove himself at the NHL level, so he’s being paid less than the average backup goalie. If he performs well for 20 games or so next season, this deal will look like a bargain very quickly.

FAIR VALUE

 

Overall Re-Signings Grade:

B

 

Other Stuff

This section won’t get an overall grade, but these transactions bore mentioning.

Brendan Leipsic lost on waivers to Los Angeles Kings

December 3, 2018

The Canucks didn’t really have room for Leipsic, who found himself lost in a sea of middle-six wingers.

INCONSEQUENTIAL TRANSACTION

 

Mike McKenna lost on waivers to Philadelphia Flyers

January 4, 2019

McKenna himself wasn’t all that valuable, but losing him to the Flyers did cause a minor organizational crisis in net.

MILDLY CONSEQUENTIAL TRANSACTION

 

Michael DiPietro emergency recall

February 4, 2019

There was a lot of consternation over DiPietro’s emergency recall—and subsequent shellacking—but his play after returning to the OHL suggests that the experience did nothing but fuel his desire to improve.

INCONSEQUENTIAL TRANSACTION

 

Draft Picks

It’s simply too early to grade Jim Benning’s performance at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. With that in mind, this section will feature a rating of Trending Up or Trending Down for each draft pick—rather than the more definitive labels featured in other sections. For averaging purposes, there will still be an overall letter grade applied to the section.

Quinn Hughes

Drafted 7th Overall

What else can be said about Hughes? Benning had his choice of two other promising defenders in Noah Dobson and Evan Bouchard, but one year after the draft Hughes still looks like the right choice.

Trending Up

 

Jett Woo

Drafted 37th Overall

Woo doubled his WHL production in his Draft+1 season and made a good run at Canada’s World Junior entry. He can’t turn pro until 2020, but he’s well on his way to success at the next level.

Trending Up

 

Tyler Madden

Drafted 68th Overall

Madden starred for the USA entry at the 2019 World Juniors, and was one of the best rookies in the NCAA. Few prospects from the 2018 Draft saw their profiles rise higher this season than Madden.

Trending Up

 

Toni Utunen

Drafted 130th Overall

After some moderate improvement this season, Utunen gained notoriety for eliminating Canada at the World Juniors—though he remains a longshot prospect.

Trending Up

 

Artyom Manukyan

Drafted 186th Overall

Manukyan was always a project pick, but he only put up 15 points in the KHL as a 20-year-old—and just one goal in 18 playoff games. It wasn’t the step forward this overage pick needed.

Trending Down

 

Matthew Thiessen

Drafted 192nd Overall

Thiessen’s rookie season in the USHL was less-than-ideal—though the development path of goaltenders is often unpredictable and it’s too early to write him off quite yet. His play improved dramatically in the playoffs.

Trending Down

 

Overall 2018 Entry Draft Grade:

A

 

Jim Benning’s Final Grade For The 2018/19 Season:

B

Whether you’re a long-established resident of Fort Benning or a dedicated skeptic, you have to admit that his performance as a General Manager improved in 2018/19. His trading game saw notable improvement, his re-signings worked out well, and he had perhaps the best draft of his tenure with the team. Benning’s uninhibited unrestricted free agent signings remains his achilles’ heel, but he avoided any absolutely egregious deals—and added one incredibly valuable player in Antoine Roussel.

The Vancouver Canucks improved significantly under Benning throughout the 2018/19 season—in both the present and the future sense. The debate remains open as to whether the improvement was significant enough—but you already know what this optimist thinks.

 



  • Beer Can Boyd

    Nice and ultimately fair summary of his last years work . But ultimately Benning’s stock will rise or fall depending on the 2019-20 season. Miss the playoffs and we will have a new GM in 2020.

    • Goon

      I’m not and have never been a Benning defender, but I don’t think this is quite so black and white – it depends on context. If the Canucks finish the season with 75 points again and without insane injuries, Benning will be done. But if they improve to 9th in the west with 88 points and do it with a major injury or two throughout the season? Benning’s probably safe.

      Barring the addition of a major impact player in free agency or a crazy powerplay move to pick in the top-3 at the draft, I think this team’s probably destined for a finish around 80 points and 10th place, which probably won’t be good enough.

    • I’m going to write about this in another article, but I’m starting to form the opinion that in the summer of 2020 or 2021 it might be best for Benning to accept a demotion and hire someone with a greater eye toward pro scouting.

      • Killer Marmot

        Two points:

        First, managers don’t get demoted. They get fired. And for good reason. Someone who used to be in charge hanging around the place doesn’t really work, for them or for the organization.

        Second, pro-scouting seems to have improved over the last couple of years.

          • Killer Marmot

            1. Pat Quinn was GM from 1987 to 1997. He was fired but never demoted, although he did take on coaching duties for a few seasons in addition to being GM.

            2. George McPhee VOLUNTARILY stepped aside as GM to become president of hockey operations. It was his idea to do so. In fact, he picked his successor. It had nothing to do with his performance as GM, which was beyond exceptional.

            3. Francis was demoted and fired two months later. Like I said, having the old GM hanging around is untenable.

            But thanks for playing and all that.

  • Bucket

    Good article, more or less speaks my voice too. I like the fact that Benning also was able to rectify a past mistake in the Gudbranson trade whereas others may have doubled down on their mistakes. Shows a little humility and also that Benning is learning and improving as a GM. Hopefully we have every reason to be optimistic this year.

    • Duke Hauser

      He did double down , Gudbranson was resign for $4 million per season where he was reportedly offered 2 second round picks the year before. Jared McCann also looked good for Canada at the world championships

      • Bucket

        The resign is what I’m talking about, he gave him a chance to prove himself, didn’t work out, pulled the trigger, essentially, listening to his critics. Is this not what you want in a GM? Always improving, and listening to the fans where applicable? Also, hindsight is wonderful, could have got this for him, could have got that… all just rumours, we’ll never know and I don’t lose sleep worrying about what ifs.

        The McCann trade was so long ago I hardly remember and if I’m honest, I don’t care if he is a great player, he is a headache that has been on 3 teams already, I don’t want a guy like that in the dressing room. Bad heads ruin good teams.

          • Bucket

            Well I could spend my summer agonizing about every mistake the GM made from years gone by, pounding my fists, picking fights online or I could look forward to next season with optimism and hope. As my glass is half full, I choose the latter.

  • Kevlar73

    Fair assessment of JB’s year. I’m happy that he’s obviously working the phones more this year than last and it will be interesting to see how the next four weeks work out for Benning and the Canucks. The narrative that this defence needs to improve is accurate however compared to the start of last year I believe it already is by taking out MDZ, Guddy, and Pouilot while adding in Hughes

  • Kanuckhotep

    Benning is not perfect by any means but has made some progress as a GM more recently. This is a fair assessment article and his free agency savvy is better than it use to be. One thing Benning does do well is make trades where not much is ever given up and his drafting mostly is promising. However Big Jim’s club must make the playoffs next year if he’s to hang around. He’s had a fairly lengthy mandate so far but 19-20 shall be a pivotal year for Benning and the Canucks.

    • I don’t think the playoffs are far-fetched if certain conditions can be met:

      – Markstrom and Demko continue to provide above-average goaltending.

      – The proposed reduction in shot-blocking leads to fewer injuries to key defencemen like Edler and Tanev.

      – Baertschi, Roussel, Beagle, and Sutter stays healthy. Pettersson doesn’t lose games due to cheap shots.

      – Gaudette, Virtanen, and Goldobin take a big step. Juolevi can make the team and contribute.

      – We don’t lose Edler to free agency.

      Benning already made a bunch of additions or subtractions that we will benefit from over the course of a full season:

      – Pearson and Leivo can provide Top 9 scoring. Maybe Spooner steps up his game. Hughes plays the full season.

      – Addition by subtraction. No Nilsson, Pouliot, or Gudbranson.

      Add another good free agent winger or defenceman or swing a hockey trade and there is no reason why we can’t improve by 5+ wins to take a wild card spot.

      • DogBreath

        I applaud your optimism and often fall into the same trap. If all those do fall into place, you’re likely right, they have a decent chance. I’ve come to learn that the problem is the length of the list that has to go right for them to make it.

      • Bucket

        Very optimistic but if all works out that way I agree. As you said, add a decent free agent or trade piece and we might be contenders. I also see Horvat, being given the ‘C’, stepping up, embracing the role and elevating his game, he is just that kind of guy.

  • J-Canuck

    I think Benning’s tenure has to be put into 2 categories. Sedins era and post Sedin era.

    Most critics look at FA, ie Loui and Sutter, and see a complete fail. In context, Loui had chemistry with the Twins on the International stage and the team was trying to win for the Sedins. People can blame ownership, GMJB or Trev, but Danny and Hank deserved to have the organization try and compete. Like a batter down 1 with 2 outs in the ninth inning, GMJB was swinging for the fences.

    Post Sedin era, his FA signings were more of a support role that won’t bury them in Salary Cap hell. You can tell now that he wants to build off the youth in the organization and add complimentary pieces. Bo/EP/Brock/Quinn/Demko (w Depitro coming) are a solid frame work that will only get better. Only Bo wasn’t drafted on his watch. Adding a scoring forward in this upcoming draft that can join the top six in a year or two will help a team on the rise.
    The future looks bright and if the injury situation is “normal” next year the team should make the playoffs

    • LiborPolasek

      Ditto and fair article, JB seems to had learned from past decisions but context also has to be considered as to why those decisions were made at the time; he was hired as a 1st time GM with extensive experienced as a, “scout”. The inexperienced as a first time GM did become more obvious after hindsight as he was trying to build a roster based on what he was handed but the most recent decision(s) seems to now indicate that despite draft lottery setbacks and previous roster management decision(s) JB and team was still able to build a solid core moving forward with cap space to add a player if they deemed this core is ready to compete. This is now his core and I hope he will be given another opportunity to continue to build and develope this core.

  • TheRealPB

    That’s a fair assessment. How do you see Gagner as a win for the Oilers other than in terms of nostalgia? He put up 10 points in 25 games, Spooner had 4 in 11. Neither is worth their contract. And as CA has pointed out, Benning should get limited praise for fixing his own mistakes (i.e. signing Gagner when it was clear that his stats were inflated by the Columbus PP).

  • Killer Marmot

    Darren Archibald and Anders Nilsson to Ottawa for Mike McKenna, Tom Pyatt, and a 2019 6th Round Pick

    The real purpose of this trade was for Vancouver to make room for Demko. By that measure, both clubs came out ahead.

    • Whackanuck

      Most of Benning’s trades have been inconsequential, with modest gains at best. The original Gudbranson and Sutter trades were the only that could have had impact and they were failures. Trading is a D.

      Good article though.

      • Killer Marmot

        Trading for Baertschi, Leivo, Pearson, Dorsett, Granlund, Motte, Goldobin, and Schenn were not inconsequential. They weren’t blockbusters, but in aggregate they had a considerable effect.

        • Bud Poile

          The six years of stripping the franchise of both depth and prospects under Gillis would have a similar recovery time.
          The Canucks should be very close to – and likely contending for – a playoff position this coming season.

  • Ronning4ever

    I thought this was an amazing article and bang on. IMHO, Benning made the team better both through addition and subtraction. Comments:

    – I thought they came out slightly ahead on the Nilsson trade
    – I thought getting Schenn was a big win, only because it facilitated the Guddy trade…without it, they wouldn’t have had enough RHD to get through to the end of the year.
    -I didn’t think the Pouliot signing was that bad…they dealt him down and it was only a 1 year deal
    – Similarly for all the hand-wringing around Benning FA signings, he doesn’t do that many beyond 1 – 2 year deals. If a $3mil popular C and $1.8mil 2 year deal are your worst singings (in 2018), thank god.

    • Thanks, I think you’re amazing, too.

      -On Nilsson, I tend to agree, but since the Sens seem to want to keep Nilsson around I called it a draw.

      -I agree about Schenn, especially since he came with a bonus pick

      -I don’t think the Pouliot signing was bad or unreasonable, and it didn’t really hurt–but they also definitely didn’t get $1.1 million worth of hockey out of him this year.

      -Agreed. I think Beagle will continue to be important for the next couple years, and Schaller is a barely consequential mistake.

      • Snoho

        Hard to argue with most of what you wrote. A fair review needs to be more critical of his bumbling the goalie situation. The draft was good, at least what we can project today. The signings again were god awful, showing he doesn’t learn from his mistakes. The Gudbranson trade was brilliant, but one needs to remember the context. Acquring Guddy in the first place was a major blunder so hard to give him props for neutralizing a terrible mistake that should noy have been made in the first place.

        Jake Virtanen on the cusp of 20+ goals? You truly ARE an optimist!

    • Cageyvet

      Yeah, people whine about MDZ and I still hear about Bartkowski as a bad deal. I don’t get it, how is a one year deal such an albatross? It’s ridiculous, and only matters to those who insist on hating Benning. If they’d hang their hat on the conditional 5th rounder we gave up for Phillip Larsen, I’d entertain their comments. As it is, it leaves me feeling like most of the bashers just copy someone else’s narrative and don’t have many original thoughts or understanding of the game.

      Benning is far from perfect, but there has been more good than bad. This was a good piece, and didn’t sugar-coat it at all, it seemed pretty balanced to me. Anybody who just falls back on the same old tired arguments like “worst team in the league over 4 years” ignores the facts and often contradict themselves. Seriously, people, if you wanted to blueprint a rebuild it would probably start with “be the worst team in the league for 4 years”, although actually finishing last every year would be the ultimate. You need a whack of top picks to build a winner, and there’s no better way to do it than suck for a few years. Nobody told Edmonton 4 years was the max for the plan, you can’t suck for a decade, but you get the point.

  • wojohowitz

    partly from a tweet by Dimitri Filipovic‏

    The list of defensemen Benning traded for or signed.

    Philip Holm
    Andrey Pedan
    Luca Sbisa
    Adam Clendening
    Matt Bartkowski
    Philip Larsen
    Erik Gudbranson
    Derrick Pouliot
    Michael Del Zotto
    Luke Schenn
    Gustav Forsling

    • Ronning4ever

      Here’s the deal with almost everyone on that list:
      Holm – 1 yr deal – traded
      Pedan – 1yr deal – traded
      Sbisa – 3 yr deal – claimed in expansion
      Clendening – 1 yr deal
      Bartokowski – 1 yr deal
      Larsen – 1 yr deal
      Guddy – 3 year deal – traded in 1st year
      Pouliot – 1 yr deal
      Del Zotto – 2 year deal traded in 2nd year
      Schenn – 1 year deal
      Stecher – 2 year deal
      Sautner – 2 year deal
      McEneny – ELC (3)
      Chatfeild – ELC (3)
      Eliot – ELC (3)
      Teves – ELC (1)
      Rafferty – ELC (1)

      ZERO term or commitment. The longest term Benning has given on D has been to Tanev. Second was to Guddy and he got out of that one fast.

      • wojohowitz

        This could be Benning`s legacy. For every 18 defensemen Benning signs, drafts or trades for only 1 will become a NHL regular or to extrapolate Benning will get 6 regular NHL defensemen if he works his way through 108 candidates. He only played in the league as a defenseman for 9 years so that explains the learning curve.

        • Ronning4ever

          On defense? Benning’s legacy will likely be Hughes, Stecher, and Juolevi – maybe Tryamkin, Brisebois and Woo as well.

          In terms of signings – his biggest ‘legacy’ moves (as of today) have been re-upping Tanev and finding Stecher as a college UFA.
          In terms of trades – his legacy on D will always be the Guddy trade.
          In terms of the draft – 8/14 D picks are likely going to get at least ELC’s. – Hughes and Juolevi are probably going to form the core tandem.

  • J-Canuck

    Objectively, well done piece Roget.

    I truly believe that GM’s, especially first time GMs get roasted for trades/FA signings/drafts in a vacuum. Hence my assertion that GMJB should be judged Sedin era and post Sedin era.
    Most fans and media took his moves while Danny and Hank around as “ trying to make the playoffs with a past it’s prime roster”. I would love for the “journalists” and fans to walk into a room with the Twins and say… we are tearing this down and would you Daniel and Henrik agree to be traded to separate teams! Swedish translation “NO”

    What would be a great article is a comparison to similar GMs and how they dealt with aging super stars.. Detroit comes to mind.
    I know the Twins never won a cup, but they deserved all the deference the owner/GM could give them.
    No GM has made all the right deals and never bought high and regretted the signing years later. My cursory knowledge of the cap situation has salaries dropping off during the time the Canucks will contend for the cup again,
    Do you think in 3 years we could use Loui’s 6 mil???

  • BBoone

    The Utica development program seems off the rails and I still don’t see a consistent plan for the Canucks . The Edler situation has not been handled well. Otherwise a good take
    a good articlle.

  • Kanucked

    I think the article is optimistic. The article focuses on things Benning did not what he could have done or his overall strategy. First, his free agency strategy last year was misguided at best. Even if you agree with Benning that the team needed more grit, signing 3 players was over kill. There were other needs that could have been filled like defence. Many people suggested Calvin de Haan.

    Second, was the strategy for the first year players in Utica. That strategy didn’t work and left many of the prospects frustrated. Development in Utica in general was more miss than hit last year.

    Finally, his performance at the trade deadline was abysmal. He mismanaged the Edler situation and has nothing to show for it. He wanted to resign him, then got an offer last minute and asked him to accept the trade. Talk about mixed messages. He learnt nothing from the Hamhuis situation.

    I’ll say it again as a former Benning apologist, we deserve better. Mediocre isn’t good enough.

    Ok apologists, trash away😊

    • Killer Marmot

      First, his free agency strategy last year was misguided at best.

      You can argue about the players he ultimately signed and the terms of their contracts. What is not arguable is that Benning needed to sign a passel of forward free agents during last summer to have the man-power to get through the season. He could not depend on prospects like Dahlen, Lind, and Gadjovich being ready for the NHL when injuries struck.

      And don’t give me smart ass remarks about “apologists.”

    • DJ_44

      He mismanaged the Edler situation and has nothing to show for it. He wanted to resign him, then got an offer last minute and asked him to accept the trade. Talk about mixed messages. He learnt nothing from the Hamhuis situation.

      Edler had a full NTC. Edler says he will not waive. Where is the mixed message?

      Hamhuis waived for 2 teams. Chicago choose to use assts on with forwards, and acquired no defenceman (eliminated first round). Dallas choose to go with Chris Russell; they lost in the first round.

      • Kanucked

        Yes Edler had a full NTC. Benning stated before the deadline that he wanted to resign him. He began negotiating with his agent a few weeks before the deadline. Benning didn’t speak to him about trade possibilities nor did he solicit the market. Fine, rightly or wrongly, he wanted to resign him and pursued that plan.

        However, Calgary approached the Canucks with a trade just before the deadline and he goes to Edler to get approval. Edler declines.

        If he wanted to resign him, why approach him with a trade? If the offer was so good, why not understand the market before engaging in talks with his agent? Benning himself said he was surprised by the value of defencemen at the deadline. Didn’t he check with the other GMs?

        • DJ_44

          You blur both context, timelines, and statements to fit a truthy/falsey narrative.

          Overriding context is that Edler suffered a serious facial (with concussion) injury Feb 4th.

          There were no negotiations with Edler prior to the TDL. Apparently the Canucks did approach Edler’s camp in January and asked him what he thinking. Do you want to stay? Do you want to move on? Etc.

          Again, dealing with an injured player (especially a respected team leader and the injury is a concussion) there are other considerations both for teams that are interested in acquiring the player and for the Canucks.

          Edler returned Feb 28th, one day prior to the TDL. Benning, as has been apparent, is in constant communication with all GMs in the league. Benning approached Edler a full week (if not more) prior to the TDL and said if he want to go to a contender, he can make it happen. Edler refused to waive.

          The recognition of Edler’s value and wanting him to be a part of the Canucks in the future does not affect Edler’s decision. Edler exercised his negotiated (and paid for) right. Fans can complain for management giving NMCs as a strategy (cap wizardry I believe it has been referred to), but they have little right to complain when a player chooses to stick to their agreement, or current management adopts a strategy to respect the terms of a contract the team signed.

          • Kanucked

            I’m not speaking to Edler’s decision except that it was fair for him to believe that the Canucks wanted to keep him and he could stay at his preferred location long term based on Benning’s statements.

            You make a good point re injury. However, in a January 31st interview with Sportsnet, Benning says he wants to resign Edler. This was before the injury. Also, Benning still approached Edler to waive while he was injured. Furthermore, other teams made offers while he was injured. It seems the injury wasn’t a factor.

            Three to four days (not a full week as you indicate) before the TDL, he asks Edler if he wants to waive per TSN quote. Per Botchford, Feb. 28 article, Benning asked him to waive for Calgary and Benning was surprised at the interest in Edler.

            So if he wanted to keep Edler why ask him to waive? Specifically, as you say, Benning already asked him in January if he wanted to move. Does that make him feel the team is committed to him?

            If Benning’s thinking changed after the Calgary deal, how could he say he wanted to keep him before gauging the market? By any measure, this is an about face.

      • Cageyvet

        I would expect Forever1915 would say that it’s an overpay. Zucker is a good player, but he’s probably a 45 point player, and unlikely to get more unless you inflate his stats by playing him on the top line. Tanev has too much value to this team to add to a Virtanen trade for Zucker. I don’t want to move Virtanen at all, but if it was as a package for a stud, OK, you have to give something to get something. How many people even knew that Zucker scored 20 goals the last couple of years? He’s the kind of guy you try and sneak onto your team on the cheap, not the kind of player you pay a premium for.