Canucks sign GM Jim Benning to a contract extension

Feb 15 2018, 2:07 am

The Vancouver Canucks are sticking with their man.

The team announced on Wednesday that general manager Jim Benning, who was without a contract beyond this season, has been re-signed.

“I’m grateful to the Aquilini family and to Trevor Linden for the commitment they’ve made to me and for their confidence in our long-term vision for the Vancouver Canucks,” said Benning in a media release. “I’m excited about the direction of our team and the depth and talent we continue to build. I believe we are on the right track and I am pleased to continue the work we started four years ago when we set out to build a championship team.”

Here’s a letter that team president Trevor Linden sent to season ticket holders on Wednesday morning:

“With Jim’s guidance and leadership we have put the building blocks in place for a bright future,” said Linden. “We have strong internal alignment and I am excited to continue working towards our ultimate goal of bringing a Stanley Cup to Vancouver.”

Benning has been the Canucks’ general manager for nearly four years, replacing Mike Gillis after the 2013-14 season.

After a surprise season that saw Vancouver compile 101 points and return to the playoffs in Year 1, it’s been downhill ever since. The Canucks finished with the third-worst record in 2015-16, second last in 2016-17, and are currently 28th out of 31 teams this season.

Benning’s critics will point to his lack of a commitment towards an aggressive rebuild. The team traded draft picks with relative regularity during his first couple of seasons and has continued to sign veteran free agents throughout his tenure.

Moves were made in the name of remaining competitive in the near-term, while incorporating young players. Clearly, that hasn’t worked.

Defenders of Benning will point to his draft record.

Brock Boeser was a late first round draft pick. Elias Pettersson is ripping it up in the Swedish League. Fifth-round pick Adam Gaudette has been excellent in college hockey. Thatcher Demko is playing great in Utica.

Despite a clear miss with the selection of Jake Virtanen in 2014, Benning has been successful at the draft table.

So does he just need more time?

The Canucks appear to think so.

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