Mercifully, the Jim Benning era is over. The Vancouver Canucks finally canned the controversial general manager on Sunday, December 5, after eight years, two playoff berths and countless bad contracts and bad trades.
Jim Rutherford as been brought in as President of Hockey Operations and interim GM. He along with Francesco Aquilini, his brother Roberto, father Luigi and Canucks Sports and Entertainment President Michael Doyle will look for Benning’s successor according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.
While a new regime is starting to take place, the stench of the Benning era will linger for a long time. The bad contracts are still here as is the limited cap flexibility and bare prospect pool.
To be fair though, Benning did make some good moves, primarily through the draft. So without further adieu, here are the five best and worst moves in the Benning era.
Note: For the sake of discussion, we will not be including draft picks. Largely because as we know, Judd Brackett had a lot to do with some of the selections.
No. 5 Best: Canucks acquire Tyler Motte and Jussi Jokinen from Columbus for Thomas Vanek
This trade was absolutely blasted at the time, with many livid that Benning couldn’t even recoup a draft pick for Thomas Vanek. But it’s paid off in a big way for Vancouver. Jussi Jokinen only played 14 games in Vancouver, but actually produced 10 points and four goals.
But the real victory in this is Tyler Motte. Injuries have nagged him, but when he’s on the ice he’s a perfect fourth-line penalty killer. He’s gritty, he’ll block shots and he’s more than capable of contributing offense. Keep in mind, Motte’s play late in the series against St. Louis in 2020 was a big reason the Canucks advanced.
No. 5 Worst : The Tyler Toffoli Saga
There is a lot of aspects to this. On the surface, the Tyler Toffoli trade was fine. To Benning’s defense, he couldn’t have foreseen the pandemic limiting Toffoli to just 10 regular season games. The same is true when Toffoli got hurt in the bubble. He almost never missed games, but missed 10 games during the playoffs.
But what makes this move so bad is the end result. Benning “runs out of time” to sign Toffoli, an instead pays Jake Virtanen and then watches Toffoli explode for Montreal, light up the Canucks and guides the Canadiens to the Finals.
The end result? Vancouver gives up Tyler Madden and a second rounder for 17 games of Toffoli. Of course, part of what makes this all infuriating is Toffoli wanted to stay in Vancouver. But instead, here we are.