Canucks: Let’s try to justify Jim Benning’s decisions in free agency

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Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning let four key contributors from 2019-20 walk in free agency. Let’s try to justify his early moves and decisions.

The Vancouver Canucks got off to a rocky start in free agency, somehow managing to lose all four of their key UFAs.

Benning decided not to match the Calgary Flames’ lucrative six-year, $36 million offer to goalie Jacob Markstrom, the Canucks’ MVP of the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. Instead, he signed 2016 Vezina Trophy winner and 2018 Stanley Cup champion Braden Holtby to a cheap two-year, $8.6 million deal.

It only got worse for Vancouver fans. Chris Tanev, the second longest-tenured Canuck, signed a four-year, $18 million deal with the Flames.

While many Canucks fans and hockey pundits understood Benning’s decisions regarding the crease, and the willingness to let Tanev price himself out of Vancouver, it was hard to understand why he didn’t keep fan favourite Troy Stecher, who signed a cheap two-year, $3.7 million deal with the Detroit Red Wings.

Before free agency began on Friday, it was quite evident that Tyler Toffoli wasn’t coming back. He signed a very reasonable four-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens worth only $17 million.

Toffoli expressed his desire to stay with the Canucks, and they surely could have matched or topped the $17 million offer from Montreal. So it’s not hard to understand why countless Vancouver fans fans were infuriated with Benning’s decision to let Toffoli leave.

I’m not here to tell you that Benning handled everything perfectly. I’m still baffled that he didn’t keep at least two of Markstrom, Tanev, Stecher and Toffoli. But let’s try to understand and justify possible reasons as to why he let them go.

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