Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning has had his fair share of critics over his four-year tenure, and he didn’t rank highly on FanSided’s GM rankings.
Many frustrated Vancouver Canucks fans will point the finger towards general manager Jim Benning when it comes to playing the blame game.
In reality, Benning is not a terrible general manager — but he also hasn’t done enough yet to earn full confidence from the majority of Canuck fans.
Many aren’t letting him live down the failed Loui Eriksson signing (six years, $36 million), the Derek Dorsett extension (four years, $10.6 million), or the fact he did nothing at the 2016 trade deadline when Vancouver was to be a big-time seller.
And despite not getting the green light from his superiors to rebuild until this past spring, Benning netted great prospects in Brock Boeser, Thatcher Demko, Olli Juolevi and Elias Pettersson.
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Nonetheless, Benning’s great drafting wasn’t enough to convince FanSided’s Dave Stevenson at Puck Prose.
Stevenson listed his rankings for all 31 NHL general managers, with Benning coming in at 23. Here is in part what Stevenson had to say:
"He has a reputation of being one of the worst NHL general managers out there. For the most part, it’s a well deserved reputation.Trading Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening and a second round pick for Brandon Sutter didn’t work out too well. Canucks fans already want a mulligan on the Loui Eriksson contract and the ink on it only recently became dry…He seems to have finally committed to a rebuild. Benning has done a particularly good job in trades, getting his prospect pipeline full of some exciting players… Next up on his to do list: Bo Horvat’s extension and sweet talking the Sedin twins into accepting a trade."
Stevenson absolutely nailed it when mentioning the failed Eriksson signing and the so-far-disappointing Brandon Sutter trade. To be quite honest, it’s difficult to disagree with Stevenson’s ranking here.
Benning has, in fact, done a great job of building a Canucks team that is set to win a lot more in 2020 and beyond. But at the same time, he has been overly generous when it comes to handing out average players big money. (You can see my post on this from last year, here).
But folks have to remember that it’s widely rumored that ownership has had a strong say in the front office decisions. Benning hasn’t been able to fully rebuild, and it’s the owners who supposedly told him to try the ‘rebuild on the fly’ approach.
So Benning has had a very difficult job of trying to make Vancouver a playoff competitor whilst bringing in more young talent over time.
A tale of two Bennings
So on one hand, Benning is the guy who netted Vancouver the aforementioned Boeser, Juolevi, Baertschi, Demko and Granlund. May I throw in Troy Stecher? He also got a pair of prized prospects in Jonathan Dahlen (from the Ottawa Senators for Alexandre Burrows), and Nikolay Goldobin from the San Jose Sharks in the Jannik Hansen trade.
Hard to complain about the young core of players that Benning has brought over. And I remain a firm believer that he’s built a current group that’s good enough to contend for championships in a few years’ time.
But on the other hand, Benning gave out some bad contracts to the likes of Eriksson and Dorsett. He also got robbed in the Ryan Kesler trade, and who can forget his inability to trade away pending UFAs Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata at the 2016 trade deadline?
There are truly two sides of Benning: The one who has stockpiled this team with young talent, and the one who hasn’t spent his money wisely while also not getting proper returns for his veteran players.
As such, the Vancouver Canucks general manager deserves to be at the 23rd spot in Dave Stevenson’s rankings.