During his five years with the Canucks, Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning has made many big-time trades. Here is a look at his best work so far.
Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning has been the brunt of much scrutiny during his time with the organization. Whether it’s his overpriced free agent signings, lacklustre trades or even his few draft busts, the first time general manager has been the key facet of criticism within the Vancouver hockey market.
Benning is not afraid to admit that he is wary of making complicated trades, which do not directly affect the on-ice product. He is the type of man who prefers the classic, player for player trades, or as he calls them “hockey deals.”
Unlike other GMs in the league, including the regime of Mike Gillis and Laurence Gilman, there is no cap circumvention the Canucks are doing at the moment. For example, the Roberto Luongo contract was genius at the time, as it exploited a loophole in the CBA. The league retroactively punished the team, with the recapture penalty but when the deal was signed, it was considered a capologists best work.
While Gillis is not in the NHL anymore, Gilman is working a key piece in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ front office. The Leafs acquired the contracts of David Clarkson and Nathan Horton, two players who will never see the ice again for the sole purpose of opening up cap space.
For those who may not yet understand, both contracts can be put on the LTIR (long-term injured reserve) and do not count against the cap. This allows teams like Toronto to spend over the cap, and create room to sign leading scorer Mitch Marner. The Canucks simply lack this form of capology.
On the Benning front, he is entering his fifth year as the Canucks’ GM, and he’s become notorious for acquiring “reclamation” projects. These players include Sven Baertschi, Josh Leivo and Nikolay Goldobin.
Of these project players, who is the best? Who has added the most value to the team? And is that player parallel to the most value gotten from what was given up.
To me, the two players who stand out in the reclamation project area are Baertschi and Goldobin. Both players have shown quality throughout their time in Vancouver, and are considerably more valuable than they were with their previous teams.
First off is Baertschi. The transaction was simple. The Canucks sent a second-round pick to the Calgary Flames for Baertschi, who had struggled to establish himself in the NHL at that point.
That pick the Canucks gave up turned into Oliver Kylington, a defenceman who has jumped between the AHL and NHL for the Flames. Baertschi, on the other hand, has been a consistent player, even filling in on the top line when the situation has presented itself.