Canucks Weekly: Benning Offseason Rumours Heat Up

As the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs start, the Vancouver Canucks are still finishing their regular season. With the team out of the playoffs, they played five of their final seven games last week. Starting with a back-to-back against the Winnipeg Jets and then made a trip to Alberta to play against the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers. Finally, they returned to Vancouver to play the Flames once again. 

On Monday, the Canucks picked up a 3-1 win against the Jets. Nils Hoglander had a big game, scoring the opening goal in the first period and later scoring his team’s third goal in the final period. Bo Horvat also chipped into the scoring, while Kyle Connor was the only goal scorer for his club.

Nils Hoglander Vancouver Canucks
Nils Hoglander, Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The following night, the results were not the same as the Jets blew out the Canucks 5-0. Blake Wheeler and Connor had big nights for their club as the two teams played each other for the final time this season. Wheeler scored two goals and registered two assists, while Connor scored a goal and had two assists. 

On Thursday, the Canucks played against the Flames in what ended up being a 4-1 loss. Matthew Highmore scored his first goal with his new club, but it wasn’t enough, as Calgary responded with four straight goals. 

On Saturday, the Canucks played the Oilers for the final time this season. They picked up their second win of the week thanks to some goals from depth forwards. After Adam Larsson gave Edmonton a 1-0 first-period lead, Horvat tied the game with the lone second-period goal. In the third period, Highmore scored twice, and Travis Boyd also pitched in a goal.  

In the final game of the week, the Canucks took on the Flames once more. Down 5-1 heading into the third period, the Canucks scored four goals to tie up Sunday night’s game and send it to overtime. Elias Lindholm scored the game-winning goal in OT for a 6-5 Calgary win. 

Canucks GM Talk Heating Up

With the disappointing results in the 2020-21 season, a majority of the Canucks’ fanbase has been calling for the organization to move on from general manager Jim Benning. There is speculation in Vancouver that the franchise may be looking to completely rebuild its management group. 

The 2020-21 season has been tough to watch for Canucks fans. Outside of their success in March, the team has had a disappointing season. The team took a big step last season in the playoffs, winning two rounds and taking the Vegas Golden Knights to seven games, but the disappointing offseason has hurt them this season. 

With the 2021 offseason coming up for the Canucks, rumours of the club moving on from Benning and his management team will likely heat up. The team does have few replacement options. The New York Rangers recently fired their GM, Jim Gorton and their team president John Davidson, and both could be great additions to the organization. Also, former GM Mike Gillis and assistant GM Laurence Gilman could return to the club, but that only seems possible if they return with the condition ownership will not interfere as they had done in their previous tenure. 

Young Players Getting Opportunities

With the team out of the playoffs, the club has started to call up young players and allowing them to play in the NHL. First, Kole Lind joined the team, then Jack Rathbone and now, Jonah Gadjovich. Lind played in six games, while Rathbone has played six games with the team. The young defender has looked pretty good so far, scoring one goal and posting an assist.

Meanwhile, Gadjovic played in his first game on Sunday but only played for 4:55 minutes. The 22-year-old got into his first career fight in his NHL debut. He has impressed with the Utica Comets, as he leads the team with 15 goals this season.

On another note, top prospect Vasili Podkolzin is going to the World Championships as a spare for Team Russia. It has been reported the Canucks, and the Russian forward should get a deal done. When I first started writing the Canucks Weekly posts this season, I expected him to join the team in April, but since they failed to remain competitive, it seemed like bringing him to Vancouver was pointless. He should be a part of the team to start the 2021-22 season. 

Canucks Finish the Season Against the Flames

The Canucks have two games remaining before they’re done with this disappointing 2020-21 season. They take on the Flames in back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday. The games should help decide where the two teams will finish in the standings and will settle their odds in the draft lottery. 

Top Performers

Brock Boeser – two goals, two assists

J.T. Miller – one goal, five assists

Matthew Highmore – three goals, one assist

Quinn Hughes – four assists

Who’s Next?

  • May 18th – vs. Calgary Flames
  • May 19th – at Calgary Flames