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

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


Whether you like it or not, letting Markstrom go was completely understandable in just about every way. Goalies don’t age well once they enter their 30s, and with Thatcher Demko showing the ability to take over as a starter, it didn’t make sense to overpay Markstrom.

He likely has two to three prime years left, max. So let a division rival and more goalie-desperate team overpay for him, no problem.

And hey, Holtby — one of the best and most accomplished goaltenders of his era — is capable of starting if Demko isn’t ready for more action in 2020-21.

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It’s never easy to see a veteran player and perennial fan favourite leave. But Tanev turns 31 in December, and his lengthy injury history is always a cause for concern. Letting him go was probably a rather easy choice for Benning.

An explanation for letting Tanev walk isn’t required.

Benning found a proven and impactful top-four blueliner in Nate Schmidt, who arrived via trade with the Vegas Golden Knights. Schmidt is younger, faster and a little more skilled offensively. Replacing Tanev with Schmidt could go down as Benning’s best trade.


My first reaction was “How did the Canucks not match or top Montreal’s offer?” But after thinking about it a little more, I began to think that it made sense to let Toffoli walk.

Toffoli was undoubtedly a great fit for the Canucks, posting 10 points in as many games. But we’ve seen Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat make it work with several linemates. Assuming Jake Virtanen remains a Canuck, who’s to say that captain Bo won’t be able to turn him into a 20-goal, 40-point player?

There are lots of forwards out there who can match Toffoli’s production. And top prospects Vasili Podkolzin and Nils Hoglander figure to push for top-six roles once they arrive in the NHL.

With Petterson, Horvat, J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser locked in the top-six long-term, where would Podkolzin and/or Hoglander fit if they re-signed Toffoli? Not to mention that Tanner Pearson may be extended (he has one year left on his contract).

And the Canucks have enough expensive contracts for veteran forwards on their hands. They had to clear cap space one way or another, and letting Toffoli walk may have been the best long-term move .


I’ll be honest, this is the toughest one to justify. And quite frankly, I still don’t fully understand why the Canucks decided against re-signing Stecher.

If I’m trying to justify it? The only somewhat reasonable explanation is maybe Benning and head coach Travis Green are confident that one of their top prospects on the blue line can fill Stecher’s role?

You have Quinn Hughes, Tyler Myers, Alexander Edler and Nate Schmidt in the top-four. Right now, Jordie Benn is slotted in the third pairing. There is no shortage of options for the final spot; Olli Juolevi, Jack Rathbone and Brogan Rafferty are all possibilities, assuming Benning doesn’t add another veteran in free agency.

Next. Canucks: What Nate Schmidt brings to the blueline. dark

Otherwise, your guess is as good as mine in regards to why the Canucks didn’t bring back Stecher on a reasonable multi-year deal.