Jim Benning will not be a lame duck general manager next season, as the Vancouver Canucks have extended his contract according to a report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
Hearing VAN has extended GM Jim Benning. He was heading into the final season of his current contract.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) August 16, 2019
Conventional wisdom was that Benning’s job would be on the line heading into next season, and perhaps it still is, but this is a clear vote of confidence from ownership.
Benning had managed in the last year of a contract once before, signing a two-year extension in February 2018. The exact length of Benning’s new extension is not yet known, though early indications are that it is more than one year.
Francesco Aquilini must have liked what he saw with Benning’s moves this summer, as the 56-year-old GM signed Tyler Myers, Micheal Ferland, Jordie Benn, and Oscar Fantenberg in free agency, and traded for JT Miller.
The 2019-20 season will be Benning’s sixth season in charge of the Canucks, with the team missing the playoffs by a wide margin every year since 2015.
Benning’s critics will point to his lack of success in trades and his overspending on players which has pushed the team to the top of the salary cap. His defenders will point to his success at the draft table – with the franchise adding Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes under his watch.
Despite the extension, the pressure will still be on Benning next season, as the Canucks are expected to take another step forward.
How his new acquisitions perform – in particular Myers, Miller, and Ferland – will go a long way in determining how Benning is judged.
The team has missed the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, and perhaps he’ll be allotted a fifth year without postseason hockey. But the Canucks need to at least be close next season, or it’s hard to imagine that he will keep his job – extension or not.