Vancouver Canucks: Top five reasons why I like Jim Benning

VANCOUVER, BC - MAY 23: Vancouver Canucks new General Manager smiles during a press conference at Rogers Arena May 23, 2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - MAY 23: Vancouver Canucks new General Manager smiles during a press conference at Rogers Arena May 23, 2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Jim Benning has faced a lot of criticism since he took over as General Manager in 2014. Some of his contract and trade choices have raised eyebrows among Vancouver Canucks fans, but he is often not given the credit deserved for some of the positive things he has done.

I’m not saying Jim Benning is the best in the business at his job. Any Vancouver Canucks fan will be able to tell you all of the reasons why Benning deserves a one-way ticket out of YVR, but the ones who like the work Jim Benning has done seem are few and far between, especially on Twitter.

I am part of this small percentage of Canucks fans, and have been for quite some time now. Here is a list of the top five reasons why I like Jim Benning.

1. Drafting

There is little need for me to take a deep dive into Benning’s work at the draft. The man has drafted some key players for the Canucks. A few notables are Elias Pettersson, Quinn HughesJake VirtanenBrock BoeserAdam Gaudette, Tyler Madden, Thatcher Demko, and Jack Rathbone.

A lot of these picks were taken after the first round, making them even more impressive. Benning doesn’t always take the safe pick when drafting, which is something I personally like to see. When Pettersson was drafted at fifth overall, many Canucks fans were bothered by the pick, instead wishing the Canucks selected Gabe Valardi or Cody Glass.

I recommend taking a look at this Youtube video showcasing a few reactions to the Pettersson pick; trust me, it’s worth the watch. It’s a good thing that Canucks fans on social media don’t dictate who we pick at the draft table. Imagine now seeing Pettersson in Vegas gold or Ranger blue, while we are the proud owners of Glass or Vilardi. Fans would be calling for Benning to be fired immediately. Instead, we have ourselves a Swedish superstar who arguably should have gone first in that draft. Benning’s work at the draft is something everyone should notice.

2. Trading for Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund

Acquiring these two players seemed like alright trades at the time, and some fans were even upset to see then highly touted prospect Hunter Shinkaruk go. Shinkaruk has played a total of fifteen games in the NHL over the course of his career, and is now 24 years old, playing for the Montreal Canadiens AHL affiliate, the Laval Rocket. Markus Granlund has played for the Canucks ever since the trade, and it seems as though Benning may have pulled off a steal of a trade here.

Baertschi was acquired from the Calgary Flames in exchange for a second round pick, and once again, it looks as though the Canucks were winners of this trade. Baertschi was acquired for a second-round pick and has been a solid winger throughout his career as a Canuck, playing on the top line alongside Bo Horvat. These were two trades made by Benning that turned out to be big wins, and I applaud him for pulling them off.

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3. Getting younger and faster

When Sam Gagner got sent down the first time this season, it was a result of management staying true to a promise they made when questioned about their signings of free agents.

Benning himself said that if young players were ready to play then he would make room for them. So when guys like Nikolay Goldobin and Elias Pettersson looked NHL ready out of training camp this season, Benning and company were faced with a rather difficult decision.

The result was Sam Gagner being sent down. I had to hand it to Benning for sticking to his word in regards to young players. The team became younger, and faster as a result.

4. Trading Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen

This one is simple. Acquiring Jonathan Dahlén for Alex Burrows looks like it could pay off greatly for Vancouver. Nikolay Goldobin is proving he can remain in the Canucks top six and was acquired for Jannik Hansen.

These two trades alone seem to be working out greatly for the Canucks with respects to the players Vancouver received, not to mention a 4th round pick included in the Hansen deal, that would have turned into a first round pick, had the Sharks won the cup that year. Go Sharks Go?

5. Trading Ryan Kesler

It’s not easy to pull off a trade when a player openly expresses his desire to be traded, and even more difficult when that player was gifted a no-trade clause by previous GM Mike Gillis. Ryan Kesler told Jim Benning he was only willing to waive his NTC if his trade destination was either Anaheim or Chicago; putting Benning in quite a difficult position. The trade was completed and we received Nick BoninoLuca Sbisa, and two draft picks, one of them a first-rounder, later used to draft Jared McCann.

I liked this trade when it happened, and even though we now possess none of the assets included in this trade, I still applaud Benning. Kesler’s Ducks career has been less than spectacular, and he is now back on the injured reserve, as he was much of last season. Maybe the Canucks won this trade after all.

Next. Vancouver Canucks: Power rankings at end of 2018. dark

It’s easy to point out the negative moves Benning has made during his tenure with the Canucks, but finding positives is something only a select group of Canucks fans seem to be able to do. What move or moves have you liked most since Benning took over as GM?