Canucks Best Free Agent Signings During The Jim Benning Era


Former Vancouver Canucks basic supervisor (GM) Jim Benning nonetheless receives plenty of criticism for the choices he made. Many of his draft picks, signings, and trades didn’t yield the extent of success he envisioned. Although, moderately than solely stating the dangerous throughout his tenure, shedding some mild on the great can be essential. Specifically, wanting on the free-agent signings he undoubtedly hit on. Benning had many duds, however amid the albatross contracts he handed out, there are additionally some great ones. After reviewing the intensive record of free-agent signings, 5 names stick out as high quality additions.

Radim Vrbata

Signing Radim Vrbata was one of many first main strikes Benning pulled off as GM. He signed Vrbata to a two-year, $10 million contract within the 2014 offseason, and it was a direct success. Vrbata scored a career-high in factors throughout his first year with the Canucks, placing up 31 objectives and 32 assists in 79 video games. He instantly discovered chemistry with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, using shotgun with the beloved twins for many of the season. He additionally added a wanted spark to the offense, serving to flip them right into a playoff staff within the 2014-15 season, scoring 4 factors by six playoff video games.

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Vrbata’s second season with the Canucks was a large number. In 2015-16, he solely scored 27 factors, together with 13 objectives. It was a large disappointment from the earlier 12 months. He left the staff on the finish of the season and signed with the Arizona Coyotes, leaving the Canucks in his rearview mirror. He retired after the 2017-18 season, ending his profession with the Florida Panthers. Even if Vrbata’s second season was an entire failure, his profession 12 months in 2014-15 helped the Canucks make the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which warrants giving Benning some credit score.

Troy Stecher

The Canucks signed Troy Stecher to a two-year, entry-level contract (ELC) with a median annual wage (AVV) of $925,000 in 2016. The Richmond native was a heart-warming, native signing for a staff that wanted a feel-good story. He signed in April amid a season of disappointment and distress for the Canucks. The undersized 5-foot-10 defenseman performed for the University of North Dakota with Brock Boeser earlier than becoming a member of the group, exhibiting flashes of top-four upside.

Throughout his tenure with the Canucks, Stecher was a constant bottom-four defenseman able to offering good two-way play. He scored 11 objectives and 64 assists in 286 video games over 4 seasons with the staff. His biggest accomplishment was his game-winning objective in Game 1 of their 2020 first-round sequence towards the St. Louis Blues.

Stecher finally left in free company, signing with the Detroit Red Wings in 2020. Despite letting him stroll for nothing, Benning’s signing of an area, right-handed defenseman, who had a relationship with Boeser, is one among his greatest strikes as Canucks GM, not to mention free agent signings.

Thomas Vanek

Thomas Vanek solely performed 61 video games in a Canucks uniform, however each second counted. Benning signed the veteran ahead to a one-year, $2 million contract in September 2017. The winger was coming off a 48-point, 68-game season in 2015-16, splitting time between the Red Wings and Panthers. In retrospect, his low-cap hit is stunning. He scored 17 objectives and 24 assists in 61 video games with the Canucks and was deadly on the facility play.

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The Canucks traded Vanek to the Columbus Blue Jackets on the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Despite his robust efficiency, the poorly constructed roster couldn’t compete within the gauntlet that was the Western Conference. At the time of the commerce, Vanek was tied for second in staff scoring, and the staff acquired veteran Jussi Jokinen and 22-year-old centre Tyler Motte. The Vanek commerce confirmed good asset administration on Benning’s half, whereas the signing proved to be an affordable, low-risk deal that paid dividends for the staff.

Luke Schenn

The Canucks signed Luke Schenn to a two-year contract with an AVV of $850,000 when free company opened in 2021. He was coming off back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships with the Tampa Bay Lightning, bringing championship pedigree to the staff’s blue line. He was no stranger to the Canucks; the staff first acquired him (and a 2020 seventh-round decide) from the Anaheim Ducks for Michael Del Zotto throughout the 2018-19 season. Following his quick 18-game stint with the staff, he signed with the Lightning and obtained a few rings.

Luke Schenn of the Vancouver Canucks hits James van Riemsdyk of the Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Schenn added physicality and, surprisingly, offense to the Canucks’ protection. In 121 video games over two seasons, he scored eight objectives and 38 factors. He was a daily on the blue line, stapling opponents to the boards whereas chipping in offensively. He was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs on the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline for a 2023 third-round decide. While present GM Patrik Allvin traded him, it was Benning’s signing that allowed the Canucks to amass an asset for Schenn, who proved to be way more priceless than his contract implied.

Alex Chiasson

Alex Chiasson is the final free agent Benning signed that offered good worth. Initially introduced in on knowledgeable tryout earlier than coaching camp in 2021, Chiasson impressed the staff and earned a contract, signing a one-year deal value $750,000. His offensive expertise was a much-needed enhance to the Canucks energy play, and he scored 13 objectives and 22 factors in 67 video games with the Canucks, exhibiting he might nonetheless present offense.

Alex Chiasson Vancouver Canucks
Alex Chiasson, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Chiasson sporadically performed within the Canucks’ top-six in 2021-22, changing into linemates with Elias Pettersson at occasions. While his deployment speaks extra to the Canucks’ depth than Chiasson’s position as a serviceable top-six ahead, it’s commendable that he performed any position thrown at him. He might not be a flashy identify, however 13 objectives for $750,000 was excellent.

Throughout Benning’s time with the Canucks, he religiously gave an excessive amount of cash and an excessive amount of time period to middle-of-the-lineup gamers, though he had a expertise for figuring out low cost, low-risk gamers and signing them for depth. If Benning had resisted handing out bloated contracts to gamers like Tyler Myers and Jay Beagle and targeted on surrounding his stars with good, low cost choices, he should still be employed. Regardless, the Canucks didn’t utterly undergo with Benning as boss, as he flashed the potential to fill holes in his roster with low-cost expertise at occasions.


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