Benning: 'There is a clear number one' defenseman on Canucks draft board

Jeff Paterson
June 23 2016 06:07PM

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Photo Credit: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

BUFFALO, NY – Despite efforts to move up in the first round of Friday’s National Hockey League draft, expect the Vancouver Canucks to head to the podium and use the fifth-overall pick they currently hold. 

In a wide ranging question and answer session with the media at the team’s hotel on Thursday, general manager Jim Benning discussed his draft plans and revealed that he had made inquiries about working his way up the ladder and has fielded several calls about trading out of the fifth spot, too.

“We’ve tried to move up, but it doesn’t make sense for us to move up,” he said. “I like being in the five hole. The cost of the trying to move up for us isn’t worth it.”

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Benning on Lucic: 'we would definitely have interest in him'

Jeff Paterson
June 23 2016 12:18PM

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Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

BUFFALO – Jim Benning may not make a huge splash in the National Hockey League draft this weekend, but the Vancouver Canucks general manager certainly created some waves on Thursday. Benning left no doubt about his interest in pending unrestricted free agent Milan Lucic when the bruising forward becomes available on July 1st.

Speaking to reporters at the team’s hotel headquarters in suburban Buffalo, Benning didn’t mince words when he was asked if Lucic was going to be one of his free agent targets a week from now.

“Yeah, he’d be a guy we’d have interest in,” Benning confirmed. “He’s from Vancouver. He’s been a good player in the league for a long time. He’s a unique player – a power forward, so we would definitely have interest in him.”

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Gudbranson for McCann: a short term win for the Canucks

Jeff Paterson
May 26 2016 03:00PM

Call it a win for the Vancouver Canucks -- in the short term. Acquiring hulking right-handed defenseman Eric Gudbranson from Florida offers an immediate upgrade to a Canucks blueline desperately in need of help. So as the dust settles on Wednesday night’s deal, the Canucks have bolstered their defense corps at the cost of a player -- Jared McCann -- who may not have made Willie Desjardins’ hockey club out of training camp. In that sense, player for player, the Canucks are a better team today than they were yesterday.

However, National Hockey League deals involving young players and draft picks are not done for one season nor will they be judged after just one year. That’s where things may very well swing in Florida’s favour.

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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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