Jim Benning has been taking a reputational beating this season. Things got much worse for him on Thursday after comments he made that seem to admit he absolutely dropped the ball this past offseason and in trying to juggle the Vancouver Canucks’ salary cap, specifically when it came to his failed attempts to re-sign a player like Tyler Toffoli.
Since letting the red-hot forward leave in free agency and seeing as Toffoli is not only producing at a high level, but scorching the Canucks in the process, some are calling for Benning’s dismissal.
According to the panel on Vancouver Canucks’ TSN Radio today, it’s possible that the GM may be on his way out sooner than later. They cite a handful of reasons, but the biggest seems to be that the organization simply doesn’t trust their GM to do the right thing and Benning’s admission that he “ran out of time” is not sitting well with anyone.
Benning recently admitted that he doesn’t have full autonomy when it comes to making moves and that there was a mandate by the team to move out money. A lot of that might have been because the owner didn’t want to spend big dollars, but part of it could be because Benning has already committed so much money to bloated contracts for depth players, he earmarked other players as a priority over Toffoli, and the combination of numerous questionable moves has caused ownership to require Benning ask for permission for any trade or decision he makes.
As far as the Toffoli stuff goes, the situation is just odd. This was a forward who the team spent a lot to obtain at last season’s trade deadline and word coming out Vancouver, and from the player’s side immediately following the Canucks elimination from the 2019-20 playoffs, was that there were positive vibes and a desire by both parties to get something done. Toffoli is reported to have really wanted to be back and loved it in Vancouver. But the Canucks asked him to wait so they could focus on “more pressing issues” and 10 days later, when nothing happened and Toffoli was seemingly moved to the back of the Canucks’ bus, he left.
Thomas Drance of the Athletic noted that Benning had to focus on trying land Braden Holtby when it was learned Jacob Markstrom was leaving and then the GM used a good chunk of his available cap space on Nate Schmidt. But, Drance says the Canucks never offered Toffoli anything serious, didn’t match the Montreal Canadiens offer of four years and said cap flexibility caused their issues. He adds that moving forward, there’s a total lack of confidence that Benning is the guy who can usher the Canucks forward considering how much salary cap juggling is going to be required in the seasons ahead.
TSN1040’s Jeff Paterson says it was stunning to hear Benning say that he ‘ran out of time’ with trying to sign Toffoli. Paterson notes that October 9th didn’t sneak up on anybody in the NHL and the Canucks were eliminated on the fourth of September. The plan couldn’t have been to let every pending free agent walk away, so what was Benning doing that whole time?
Toffoli Wasn’t the Only Benning Misplay
Drance also said that Benning got ghosted by defenseman Chris Tanev before Tanev signed in Calgary. He called it a terrible mismanagement of the player and it screamed at just how bad the relationship got. Rick Dhaliwal said “I know 150% that Tanev still feels disrespected by the Canucks.”
That the team was so focused on Markstrom and trying to acquire Oliver Ekman-Larsson, everyone else got ignored.
To say the least, there’s good reason to be upset with Benning and if ownership doesn’t believe he’s the right guy, should the Canucks continue to struggle, the team will likely make a change.
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