Benning: picking a forward at 5 'Sounds realistic'

Jeff Paterson
May 02 2016 11:46AM

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Photo Credit: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

If nothing changes between now and June 24th, the Vancouver Canucks will use their fifth overall selection in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft to pick one of two forwards: Cape Breton’s Pierre Luc Dubois or Matthew Tkachuk of the London Knights. Canucks general manager Jim Benning all but confirmed that it’s a two horse race on a Monday morning appearance on TSN 1040.

Speaking directly to Canucks fans for the first time since Saturday’s draft lottery, Benning revealed his thoughts on the defensemen available at the top of this year’s class and didn’t sound like a general manager prepared to use the fifth pick on a blueliner.

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Five losses that shaped the Canucks season

Jeff Paterson
April 20 2016 11:00AM

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With some time now to digest the 2015-16 Vancouver Canucks season, it’s impossible to suggest there was a single turning point that led to the team’s dismal 31 win performance. Sure, February 9th in Denver – the night both Alex Edler and Brandon Sutter suffered season-ending injuries – was likely the night reality hit home that this year’s Canucks wouldn’t make the playoffs. Perhaps, that was already evident three weeks earlier when captain Henrik Sedin needed help off the ice in Brooklyn after getting steamrolled by Mikhail Grabovski in front of the Canucks bench.

The bottom line is this year’s edition of the Canucks wasn’t good enough – or deep enough – to be any kind of factor in the National Hockey League’s Western Conference. Although the notion of a playoff berth still existed at January’s All-Star break, so many warning signs about the team’s ultimate demise were evident from the first few weeks of the season.

Looking back, here are five losses that should never have happened. This isn’t to suggest that with a different result in these games, the Canucks playoff fortunes would have been different. This is simply a list of five of the team’s most disappointing and most telling losses among the 51 setbacks (38 in regulation & another 13 in overtime/shootout) the Canucks suffered this past season.

For the purposes of this list, the losses selected occurred while the Canucks were still chasing a playoff spot. What happened after the trade deadline – the nine-game losing streak (including three straight shutout losses) and the forgettable back to back no-shows in Alberta in the final week of the season – did not factor into the decision-making.

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On Brandon Sutter and the pain of a lost season

Jeff Paterson
April 14 2016 02:49PM

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Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Sutter had no idea how things would unfold in his first season with the Vancouver Canucks. 

It’s safe to assume that in his wildest dreams – or his nightmares – he could never have imagined being limited to just 20 games due to two serious injuries. As he cleaned out his locker earlier in the week and prepared for summer that will include a late June wedding in Kelowna, Sutter reflected on a season he was forced, for the most part, to watch from the sidelines.

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Trevor Linden: 'we were hoping for the best and it didn't work out this year'

Jeff Paterson
April 12 2016 04:25PM

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Screen cap courtesy: CBC.ca

It was less formal and more revealing than what had just taken place on the other side of the wall at Rogers Arena. 

Moments after Jim Benning and Willie Desjardins descended from the podium where they had been pressed on the many failings of the Vancouver Canucks this season, President of Hockey Operations Trevor Linden offered his thoughts and observations.

In a wide-ranging media scrum, Linden once again backed his head coach, broke the news of his captain’s broken finger, shot down rampant rumours of a front office shake-up and seemed to offer a glimpse into the team’s plans for the ample spending money the Canucks are likely to have to work with this summer when the salaries of Radim Vrbata and quite likely Dan Hamhuis come off the books.

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Locker clean out day: Higgins, Weber express frustration over their seasons

Jeff Paterson
April 11 2016 04:51PM

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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports

Many words were spoken Monday, but very little was said as the Vancouver Canucks cleaned out their lockers, conducted exit interviews and met with the media one last time before heading their separate ways for the summer.

Outside of injury updates from some and confirmation of plans to play at the upcoming World Hockey championship from others, there was little to no news to come out of Monday’s availability at Rogers Arena. Nor was any expected. Players once again expressed disappointment in the way the season slipped away from them and those asked pledged the party line about paying a price now for a brighter future.

Two players who almost certainly won’t be part of that future – Chris Higgins and Yannick Weber – were among the more outspoken on the day. While neither took direct aim at the hockey club with inflammatory comments, both spoke freely of the disappointments they endured this season being placed on waivers and basically being told their services were no longer wanted or needed by the Canucks.

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