Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Does Buffalo really want Jim Benning as GM?

Former Sabres Director of Amateur Scouting, Jim Benning, will be interviewing with Pat LaFontaine for the GM opening in Buffalo. He was granted permission by the Boston Bruins, his present employer.

Benning has been with the Bruins since the July 2006 when he was hired as director of player personnel. One year later he was named Assistant GM under Peter Chiarelli.

Before that, Benning was with the Sabres organization for 12 seasons. From 1994-1998 he was a scout for the club. The final eight seasons he was Buffalo's head scout under former GM Darcy Regier.

While Regier was busy dismantling "the hardest working team in hockey," Benning was the voice in Regier's ear concerning the drafting of the players that were to form "the core"--Regier's "vaunted" group of players that folded after the new-NHL went away.

From 1999-2006 Benning was responsible for some gems outside the first round and into the latter rounds like Ryan Miller (#138) in 1999, Derek Roy (#32) and Jason Pominville (#55) in 2001, Dennis Wideman (#241) in 2002 and Andrej Sekera (#72) in 2004.

All of those players, core players, save for Miller are gone. And Miller looks to be on the way out as well.

The Sabres are headed into the next two drafts with a bevy of first and second-rounders (trading Miller and/or Matt Moulson and/or any other player will probably add to that total.)

As head scout for Regier, Benning was responsible for guiding the Sabres draft. Here's a list of players selected in the first two rounds for Buffalo under Benning's stewardship:
  • 1999--Barret Heitsen (#20,) Milan Bartovic (#35,) Doug Janik (#55,) Mike Zigomanis (#64)
  • 2000--Artem Kryukov (#15,) Girard Dicaire (#48)
  • 2001--Jiri Novotny (#22,) Roy, Chris Thorburn (#50,) Pominville
  • 2002--Keith Ballard (#11,) Daniel Paille (#20)
  • 2003--Thomas Vanek (#5,) Branislav Fabry (#65)
  • 2004--Drew Stafford (#13,) Michael Funk (#43)
  • 2005--Marek Zagrapan (#13,) Phillip Gogula (#48)
  • 2006--Dennis Persson (#24,) Jonas Enroth (#46,) Mike Weber (#57)

Of that group only Stafford, Enroth and Weber remain.

If you were wondering why the Sabres are 5-17-1 right now and in full rebuild mode, take a look at that group.

The core that former GM Darcy Regier and his head amateur scout Jim Benning built is gone after years of vanilla, middling play.

So, just to get this straight, the departed GM Regier, brainchild of "the core," leaves the Sabres with a ton of draft picks for that failed group, and now they're interviewing the guy responsible for the amateur draft legwork to possibly rebuild the team?

I don't get it.

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