I don't think it's fair to disparage a GM for making such strong picks that guys like Pettersson, Hughes, Boeser, Demko, Hoglander, Podkolzin were able to walk right on to the team. Part of developing a player is making sure they are in the best league to do so and just because it isn't happening in the AHL for us doesn't mean it's not happening at all. Making strong picks that are able to develop overseas or in college should be considered a strength.
Also part of trading draft picks is looking at who is available at that spot comparable to the value of the player you traded them for. I don't see Tyler Madden, Roland McKeown, Rasmus Asplund, Keegan Iverson, Deven Sideroff, Theodor Niederbach, Hugo Alnefelt moving the needle for us (almost every 2nd and 3rd round draft pick Benning has ever traded besides the two players I'm about to mention - half of whom might make you ask "who?!").
The only notable players taken with 2nd round draft picks we've traded since 2014 have been Filip Gustavson and Rasmus Andersson - I would love Andersson but Gustavson would be redundant here. I've excluded the 1st round picks because even though we are yet to see Mukhamadullin and Guenther's NHL worth, Miller & OEL & Garland have already made that cost bearable. Considering how much Benning's trading of draft picks has been bemoaned I don't see this as a huge loss when you look at the other side of the column. I see a lot of trades for NHL caliber players that have played a lot of games for us, for a whole lot of what if's that haven't panned out. Surely if Benning is such a bad GM that has been giving his picks away like Halloween candy, these other "much better" GMs should have struck gold at least once, no? Or perhaps he is better at valuing these picks than we?
I don't consider him above criticism nor do I think he's made no mistakes during his tenure but it's easy to see his growth along with his complete overhaul of the team at all key positions. I think this season and next will be the true indicator if the team he's assembled is ready to take that next step and as a fan I'm excited to watch it.
Reference for trades I would highly recommend looking through: https://www.capfriendly.com/trades/canucks