How Bad Can It Get In Vancouver?

Photo: Sportsnet

The city of Vancouver has had enough when it comes to their hockey team. A 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night where the Vancouver Canucks were outshot 44-23 sent the team to their 10th loss in 13 games (3-9-1), better than just the New York Islanders (0-7-2) since November 8.

After the Penguins scored an empty-net goal on Saturday, a “Fire Benning” chant in reference to the Canucks GM Jim Benning erupted from the crowd.

Head coach Travis Green has also been rumored to be on the hot seat too despite just signing a contract extension with the team last summer.

Overall, the Canucks’ .360 points percentage this season ranks 29th in the NHL ahead of just the Arizona Coyotes (.250), Montreal Canadiens (.288), and Ottawa Senators (.295).

Although they have offensive weapons such as center Elias Pettersson, right-wing Brock Boeser, center J.T. Miller, and right-wing Conor Garland, the Canucks are currently 28th with an average of 2.36 goals-per-game and tied for 20th with a 17.4% power-play efficiency. Don’t even get started on defense where the team’s 64.6% penalty kill is the worst in NHL history through 25 games of a season. They have also allowed an average of 3.16 goals-per-game (the 10th-most) after making numerous moves on the blueline and in net last offseason in an attempt to fix their defensive deficiencies.

Despite averaging 33.6 shots-per-game (eighth), the Canucks have allowed 32 shots-per-game (13th-most) this season.

While Miller (eight goals, 23 points in 25 games), Garland (seven goals, 18 points), and defenseman Quinn Hughes (two goals, 20 points in 24) have done their fair share of producing, Pettersson (four goals, 12 points), Boeser (four goals, 10 points), and captain Bo Horvat (seven goals, 13 points) have all had disappointing seasons so far. Goaltender Thatcher Demko’s save percentage is also down from .915 last season to .908 this one while has goals-against average has shot up from 2.85 to 2.97. Though, the average of 32.2 shots-per-60 he has faced (27th-most among goaltenders to play in at least three games this season) has not helped.

Last summer, the Canucks gave up the ninth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft to acquire Garland and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson from the Arizona Coyotes, although Ekman-Larsson is having his best season defensively since 2012-13 with a 53.19% Corsi-for percentage, a 51.61% expected goals-for percentage, and a 51.71% scoring chances-for percentage at five-on-five but has just two goals and five points, underwhelming for a defenseman who is mostly known for his offensive prowess. Though, the Canucks were able to shed significant salary in that deal.

Benning has made plenty of questionable moves over his tenure as Canucks’ GM, such as signing right-wing Loui Eriksson (who never hit the 30-point mark in five seasons with the Canucks before being dealt to the Coyotes in the Ekman-Larsson trade) to a six-year contract that carries a $6 million cap hit in 2016; center Jay Beagle (who’s six goals over three seasons with the team was one less than his total from his final season with the Washington Capitals in 2017-18 and earned a -19 rating over that time before getting sent to Arizona along with Eriksson) and left-wing Antoine Roussel (had eight goals and 17 points in 76 games over two seasons after setting career-highs in assists – 22 – and points – 31 – in the first season in Vancouver) to four-year contracts that each count $3 million against the NHL salary cap in 2018; and defenseman Tyler Myers (earned six goals and 21 points in each of his first two seasons with the team before recording six assists this season and has -17 rating over tenure in Vancouver) to a five-year contract that comes with a $6 million cap hit in 2019.

While Benning has hit home runs in the NHL Draft by selecting Boeser, Pettersson, and Hughes over his tenure, he has commonly been known for swinging and missing big time when it comes to free agency. And over his eight year tenure, he just has nine Stanley Cup Playoff wins and one second-round appearance appearance to show for it.

Vancouver is paying the price for Benning’s poor management and the crowd is starting to get fed up with it. When will the organization?

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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