Welcome back: Benning inks multi-year deal as Vancouver GM

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Jim Benning is officially on his way back to Vancouver.

The former Canucks defenseman — who played with president of hockey ops Trevor Linden  — has agreed to become the 11th general manager in Vancouver franchise history, per TSN’s Darren Dreger.

Benning, 51, has spent the last seven seasons serving as Peter Chiarelli’s assistant in Boston and prior to that, worked as the director of amateur scouting in Buffalo (he also served one year in Anaheim’s scouting department). Benning was lauded for his success at the draft table with the Sabres, chiefly responsible for the club selecting the likes of  Ryan Miller, Jason Pominville, Derek Roy, Paul Gaustad, Daniel Paille and Dennis Wideman.

Per Dreger and Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy, Benning will be introduced as the new Canucks GM on Friday.

Inheriting the gig from outgoing GM Mike Gillis — who was dismissed six weeks ago — Benning will have plenty to do over the next short while. He needs to find a new head coach to replace John Tortorella and also begin working on a strategy for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, set for June 27 in Philadelphia, in which Vancouver holds the sixth overall selection.

Benning will also have three key RFA contracts to negotiate — Zack Kassian, Jordan Schroeder and Chris Tanev — and could be active in the trade market, with the likes of Ryan Kesler and Alex Edler rumored as potential targets.