Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning did just enough at the trade deadline to keep the team competitive without mortgaging too much of the future.
Take a quick look around, and it’s hard to find many general managers who were in a more difficult trade deadline situation than Jim Benning of the Vancouver Canucks.
Benning had three choices, and all of them carried obvious pros and cons:
- Make no moves at all
- Become a seller
- Become a buyer
The first option would have been especially risky, because the Canucks were slumping ahead of the deadline, and a boost was clearly needed. Injuries to Brock Boeser, Micheal Ferland and now Jacob Markstrom have left the team with little margin for error.
Becoming a seller would have a made a bit of sense. Benning could have traded one or both of Troy Stecher (a pending RFA) or Chris Tanev (a pending UFA), while adding much-needed 2020 draft picks and/or prospects.
But being a seller would have meant telling your team, third in the Pacific Division, that you’re not fully confident in their ability to make some noise in the postseason. Why would Benning want to do that now, given how far this team has come?
More from The Canuck Way
- Which team won the Bo Horvat trade?
- What to expect from newcomers Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty
- Back to the future: How the skate uniforms became a regular Canucks’ feature night
- Canucks kick off 2023 with disappointing 6-2 loss to Islanders
- 2nd period penalty trouble sinks Canucks in 4-2 loss against Winnipeg
Benning went with option No. 3 — the most expected one — by adding to a roster that’s in the running for the Pacific Division title. There were obviously concerns about having to sacrifice key future assets, but Benning was able to find a happy medium.
Yes, Madden has a strong skill set, and he could be a solid second or third-line centre down the road. But he was expendable, with Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat and Adam Gaudette (likely) locked in as the team’s top three centres for the long run.
It’s not as if Benning had to give up one of his top-tier prospects in Vasili Podkolzin, Nils Höglander, Jett Woo, Michael DiPietro or Olli Juolevi. He managed to land a capable top-six forward without giving up any of those guys. That’s a huge win to begin with.
On top of that, Benning managed to land a safe short-term backup in Louis Domingue from the New Jersey Devils, with Utica Comets goalie Zane McIntyre going the other way. The Canucks can be comfortable in knowing that Thatcher Demko has an established veteran to back him up.
Simply put, Benning couldn’t have handled the 2020 trade deadline that much better. Adding somebody like Tyson Barrie, Wayne Simmonds or Ilya Kovalchuk would have meant surrendering impact roster players or more young assets. Benning was smart to avoid the temptation after he added Toffoli.
He found a way to balance the whole “buyer” thing without giving up any of Vancouver’s top young prospects. And with Markstrom sidelined, Benning thankfully didn’t overreact by overpaying for a backup. He found a cheap option in Domingue.
Benning cannot be accused of being too conservative, nor can he be accused of doing too much. He was able to find something in between, and most importantly, he ensured that Vancouver will remain competitive in the race for a playoff spot.