Jim Benning: The Next GM of the Canucks and the Boston Model

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Image: Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Wednesday morning, TSN’s Darren Dreger confirmed that Jim Benning will become the new Canucks GM. The official announcement will come on Friday, as it is an off-day in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Benning has reportedly signed a multi-year deal with the Canucks, making him the 11th general manager in the franchise’s 44 year history.

 

Experience

Image: tradingcarddb.com

Image: tradingcarddb.com

Jim Benning will become just the 11th general manager of the Vancouver Canucks in their history. He played in the NHL for 9 seasons in the 1980s, including four years as a member of the Canucks.

Since retiring from the game, he has certainly paid his dues. The unheralded Benning was a scout for Anaheim (1993-94) and in Buffalo (1994-98) before becoming the director of amateur scouting for the Sabres (1998-2004). In 2006 he became the director of player personnel for the Bruins and was subsequently promoted to assistant general manager after one season.

His Best Work

Image: nhl.com

Image: nhl.com

The Sabres were one of the most successful teams in the NHL at producing NHL players from the draft during Benning’s tenure. Some of Benning’s best draft picks as director of amateur scouting with the Sabres include Ryan Miller (5th round), Thomas Vanek (1st round), Jason Pominville (2nd round), Derek Roy (2nd round) and Dennis Wideman (8th round). The Bruins have been less than impressive in the draft since the arrival of Benning however.

The Bruins have been a model franchise (BOSTON MODEL!) since Jim Benning’s arrival in Beantown. The Bruins Stanley Cup winning team was a mixture of good draft picks and astute trades. They acquired Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell for Dennis Wideman and a couple of draft picks. They picked-up Mark Recchi for a couple of spare parts. Chris Kelly was acquired for a 2nd round pick. And they acquired Dennis Seidenberg for relatively nothing as well.

Question Marks

The biggest question mark with Jim Benning is how much to we ought to credit him for his previous work in a supporting role. He was involved in decisions in Buffalo and Boston, but ultimately the decisions are made by the general manager.

Big Decisions

Benning’s first decision will be to find a new head coach. Barry Trotz is rumoured to be the front-runner, while Willie Desjardins and Doug Houda are said to be in the mix as well. He will also need to make important decisions with regards to the Canucks’ scouting staff.

With regards to decisions on the ice, the possible trade of Ryan Kesler is the most obvious decision. That decision will likely be part of a larger plan that we may get some insight into rather soon.

Boston Model

Image: bruins.nhl.com

Image: bruins.nhl.com

Trevor Linden didn’t say much of substance in his first few days in charge of the team, but he did drop the term “Boston model” on us. Just how ‘bold moves’ became synonymous with the Mike Gillis era, I predict that “Boston model” will follow Jim Benning around for as long as he is in Vancouver.

I think what Trevor Linden means by the Boston model is a little bit different than how people are interpreting it. I don’t think Linden is necessarily advocating a bully mentality. For me, the Boston model is predicated on a balanced lineup, not reliant on any one superstar player.

The Bruins have had star goaltending and Zdeno Chara on defence, but otherwise they are an extremely balanced team. Their ability to roll four lines and get contributions from everybody has been their calling card.

In order to win with the Sedins as the Canucks’ best forwards, I believe they will need to become a four line team. They will also need to have an exceptional second line, because the days of the Sedins being Art Ross Trophy winners are probably over.

Of course, talk about winning the Stanley Cup is beyond premature at the moment. The team will need to develop talent from within and will likely need the likes of Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk making an impact before fans can realistically dream about the Stanley Cup again.

 

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Rob Williams Sports Editor at Vancity Buzz covering all sports in Vancouver.
@robthehockeyguy

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