Canucks Have 5 Candidates to Replace Jim Benning if He is Fired

The Vancouver Canucks are a mess. They currently have a historically bad power play and just came off a three-game road trip that saw them give up 19 goals. Change needs to occur, and it could come in the form of Jim Benning being fired as general manager (GM). Here are five potential replacements if the Canucks’ GM position becomes available.

Chris MacFarland

Chris MacFarland is currently the assistant GM of the Colorado Avalanche and has been since 2015-16. He is Joe Sakic’s right-hand man and has helped build Colorado into a powerhouse organization. He has interviewed for jobs before, and it is only a matter of time before he lands an NHL GM position.

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In MacFarland, the Canucks would be getting a GM who understands the draft and develop method and the importance of not trading away draft picks. He has experience having worked 20 seasons in NHL front offices and understands how to manage teams up against the cap. If the Canucks want a steady hand to guide the ship, they should be contacting the Avalanche ASAP.

Ryan Johnson

The Canucks may have their man already in the organization with Ryan Johnson. The former NHLer has managed Vancouver’s farm team since 2017-18 and already understands how the organization is run. If the Canucks want to get rid of Benning mid-season and are looking for a quick replacement, he may be their best bet.

Since taking over as GM and director of player personnel, Johnson has helped develop some everyday NHLers. They include Thatcher Demko, Zack MacEwan and Jonathan Dahlén. The only knock against him is he doesn’t have that much NHL management experience. Despite that, he would be a good choice for the GM job.

Michael Futa

The long-time Los Angeles Kings executive now finds himself as a special advisor to the GM in Carolina. Although Micahel Futa has not run an NHL team yet, his experience and winning pedigree should be enough to perk the Canucks’ interest. The former two-time Stanley Cup winner will get a shot sooner or later, so why not with Vancouver?

Futa served in different roles with the Kings from 2007-20, including director of player personnel, director of scouting, and GM of their American Hockey League (AHL) team. He helped draft future NHLers like Alec Martinez, Tanner Pearson, Drew Doughty, and Tyler Toffoli, and was a big reason why LA was able to win two Cups in three years. He understands every aspect of the game, from drafting to trades to player signings. A return to the West Coast could benefit himself and the Canucks once the GM job becomes available.

Related: Canucks: 5 Worst Jim Benning Trades

Craig Billington

The other assistant GM in Colorado, Craig Billington, has been a part of the Avalanche organization since 2002-03. He started as the goaltending coach and has made his way up the chain of command, where he has been the assistant GM since 2013-14. Part of his responsibilities has been the AHL’s Colorado Eagles, where he has been the GM since 2019-20.

As assistant GM, Billington has helped develop NHL players like Logan O’Conner, Kiefer Sherwood, and Alex Newhook. He understands how to build and develop a team, which is exactly what the Canucks need. Colorado may not be keen on giving him up, but Vancouver should pursue Billington if available as they won’t be the only team interested.

Chris Lamoriello

If Chris Lamoriello’s last name sounds familiar, his father is Hockey Hall of Fame member Lou Lamoriello. Since 1994-95, he has been involved in hockey and worked his way up the management ladder. Now listed as the assistant GM of the New York Islanders, it could be time for him to step out of his father’s shadow and get an opportunity to run an NHL team.

Lamoriello understands all aspects of the job because he has been a part of every department on his way to becoming an assistant GM. From scouting to player personnel, he understands the ins and outs of management in the NHL and can bring a fresh perspective to the Canucks organization. He knows how to win and has learned from one of the best GMs out there on how to run a successful organization.

Change Needs to Happen ASAP

The Canucks need to change up their front office, and they need to do it ASAP. This season, this management group can not go into the trade deadline and potentially drain Vancouver of even more assets. Canuck fans deserve a roster and team they can be proud of, and this current one built by Benning is anything but.

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