Canucks: Jim Benning on Markstrom, buyouts and the draft

Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning touched base on a variety of topics with the media, including Jacob Markstrom and the draft.

The Vancouver Canucks are gearing up for one of the most pivotal offseasons in franchise history as they look to build upon the success of 2019-20.

This is going to be an offseason like no other for several general managers, including Jim Benning. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced the NHL to retain the $81.5 million salary cap for 2020-21.

The draft and free agency are starting this week. In normal times, of course, early October marks the start of a new regular season.

As Benning prepares for what will be a busy week, he spent some time talking to the media on Monday. The sixth-year GM talked about a variety of topics that included negotiations with goalie Jacob Markstrom (a pending UFA), as well as potential buyouts and the draft.

Latest on Markstrom

Benning once again emphasized that the team hopes to extend Markstrom, who’s been named the Canucks MVP in each of the last two years. However, he is fully prepared to look at other options if they can’t reach a deal with the 30-year-old.

“If that’s something that, you know, we can’t get done, then we’re going to have to look to the free agent market to try to fill that void or, you know, through a trade,” Benning said, via TSN. “We’re keeping all of our options open.”

Benning wouldn’t discuss where the team stands with Markstrom in contract talks. Thomas Drance of The Athletic (subscription required) believes negotiations will go down to the wire.

Right now, there’s no indication that the two sides are close on a deal.


With salary cap troubles looming, many have wondered if the Canucks will consider buying out any of their expensive veteran forwards.

More from The Canuck Way

The likes of Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel (each signed for two more years), Brandon Sutter and Sven Baertschi (both signed for one more year) have been mentioned as possible buyout candidates.

But the team hasn’t made a final decision on the buyout front.

“We haven’t decided on (buyouts) yet,” Benning said, per Sportsnet 650. “We have a few more days to think about that but no decision yet.”

The buyout window expires Thursday, so the Canucks have to make any buyout-related decisions real soon.

Looking to trade up at the draft

The Canucks don’t own any picks in the first or second round. The No. 20 selection went to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the J.T. Miller trade, but the 2020 Stanley Cup champions flipped it to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Blake Coleman.

Vancouver’s second-rounder went to the Los Angeles Kings as part of the Tyler Toffoli trade, which worked out nicely for Benning and company.

Right now, the Canucks aren’t slated to pick until the third round at No. 82 overall. However, Benning admitted he’s looking to trade up into one of the earlier rounds.

“We’ve been working on acquiring a pick for the next couple weeks,” Benning said, per Sportsnet 650. “We would like to if we can, it would be hard to trade into the first round but if we can move into the second round that would be good for us.

Benning also said (via Sportsnet 650) that the Canucks will try to add centremen “in the mid-rounds” if there are any that they like.


All in all, it’s going to be a very compelling offseason for this up and coming team, who fell just one game shy of reaching the Western Conference Final.

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Benning has plenty of contracts, negotiations and draft plans to sort through. Needless to say, the Canucks roster may look quite different once the draft and the first few days of free agency conclude.