Jim Benning remains Canucks GM with a 3-year extension
The Vancouver Canucks have signed a three-year contract extension with general manager Jim Benning, who is promising a better performance from the team next season.
The 56-year-old, who was hired as general manager in May 2014, also took over duties as president when Trevor Linden departed from the club last year. Though the team's performance in recent years has been lacklustre, Benning said he believes they're building towards something great.
“I’m grateful to the Aquilini’s and the board for believing in the plan that we have and re-signing me. I appreciate all the support from the fans to understand what we are trying to do with the team and rebuilding the team,” Benning told the media Tuesday.
In a letter sent out to season ticket holders, Canucks chairman Franesco Aquilini expressed faith in the general manager's vision.
“Jim and his staff have been working diligently and wisely to lay the foundation of an elite team, built to win consistently over the long term,” said Aquilini.
Benning’s first role for the Canucks was drafting Jake Virtanen six overall back in the 2014 NHL entry draft. That was a very good draft year which included William Nlander, David Pastrnak and Nik Ehlers’ all picked after Virtanen. The same year Benning selected goaltender Thather Demko 36th overall.
Since then, Benning has been successful drafting a core of talented players such as Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes.
“I think we have drafted well, we have some good players now that are going to be cornerstones, core players for our group for the next 10 years," Benning explained.
Benning still has some work to do this summer by signing restricted free agent Brock Boeser.
“We are trying to get to some common ground none of the RFA have signed yet. I’m going to continue to work with them and hopeful we can get something done before camp so he’s there at the start of camp,” he said.
The Canucks are entering their 50th year in the NHL. Last season, the first without Henrik and Daniel Sedin on the roster, the club struggled with injuries and finished out of the playoffs with 81 points.
“There was a little bit of anxiety going into last year not having the Sedins, we had some young players step up take over roles they weren’t accustomed to in the past and had good seasons for us,” Benning told reporters Tuesday.
Benning believes the Canucks will be even better in 2019-20. With one more year under their belt Horvat, Pettersson and Boeser should keep improving. Quinn Hughes and newly acquired Tyler Myers should help upgrade the blue line this season, and newcomers J.T. Miller and Micheal Ferland will add some secondary scoring for the club.
“We want to continue to get better to move forward. We want our young players to be in the hunt we want to play meaningful games in February and March. Our goal is to make the playoffs so our young players can experience playoff hockey that’s an important part of their development,” explained Benning
Benning is hoping to have a competitive training camp next month in Victoria.
“We’re going to go through camp and see how camp goes and see where our guys are. The players that deserve to be here are going to be here and then we are probably have to make some tough decisions,” said Benning.