Canucks' Jim Benning sets off fire storm, admits club has called to inquire about P.K. Subban

Thomas Drance
June 23 2016 03:50PM

Photo Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern/USA TODAY Sports

In silly season terms, this is as silly as it gets.

Following up on reports from TSN's Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger, the sitting general manager of a team in a huge Canadian market admits on the radio that he's called to inquire about a super-duper star playing in another huge Canadian market. Even if Canucks general manager Jim Benning admitted that a deal was "nowhere close", this is sort of news that can shake the host city in the lead up to the draft.

And indeed it has. As I write this, every media luminary in hockey is loitering around the Hyatt Regency lobby waiting for Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin to address the press. Benning's candid admission on TSN 1040 on Thursday has put the Canadiens executive in something of a difficult spot. 

Will Bergevin duck the questions and give us some "people call about good players and the only reason they're calling about P.K. is that his no-trade clause kicks in on July 1" boilerplate? Or will he admit that his club is at least considering the possibility of parting with a perennial Norris Trophy candidate?

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Seravalli: 'sense is' Canucks and Oilers 2 teams left on NCAA UFA Drake Caggiula's short list

Thomas Drance
May 06 2016 11:55AM

Photo Credit: Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Canucks are believed to be one of the last two teams standing in the Drake Caggiula sweepstakes, according to TSN's Frank Seravalli

The 21-year-old forward played on a line with top Canucks prospect Brock Boeser and Chicago Blackhawks first-round pick Nick Schmaltz for the North Dakota Fighting Hawks this past season, scoring 25 goals and adding 51 total points as a winger on the vaunted 'CBS line'. He's been on a 10-team tour of prospective NHL cities over the past few weeks and met with Canucks brass in Vancouver prior to the Draft Lottery.

The Canucks and the Oilers are believed to be the final two teams in the mix.

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Why the education of Sven Baertschi is a crucial story for the Canucks

Thomas Drance
April 11 2016 05:45PM

Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports

When general manager Jim Benning addresses the media on Tuesday, the Vancouver Canucks are widely expected to back off from the ‘rebuild-on-the-fly’ posture that has characterized their actions over the past three years.

When a team can’t credibly sell wins in their marketplace, they have to sell hope. They have to sell the learning process.

In this respect, there’s perhaps no better silver linings poster boy for the club than 23-year-old forward Sven Baertschi.

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Russian and NCAA-bound players are riskier to draft, but the Canucks should keep picking them

Thomas Drance
March 31 2016 05:00PM

In the wake of Jimmy Vesey's unsurprising decision (unsurprising to everyone except the Nashville Predators, apparently) this week to spurn the team that drafted him and test unrestricted free agency, the status of NCAA-bound draft picks has been on the tip of the tongue.

This is true industry-wide, but it's been particularly true in the Vancouver market. There was some thought that the Canucks would've pursued Mark Jankowski if the Flames had been unable to get that deal done and the club's top two prospects - Brock Boeser and Thatcher Demko - are currently playing in the NCAA. 

If you look at Jim Benning's draft record with Boston and Buffalo and Vancouver, there's no clear trend in terms of his fishing holes. A career scout, Benning doesn't seem to have a favoured league or nationality of player or what have you. 

He's also drafted two Russian players, something the previous Canucks regime never did, and three college-bound players in his first two drafts. Clearly Benning doesn't appear to be worried about the increased signing risk posed by NCAA-bound or Russian-born players. And he shouldn't be. 

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How Jake Virtanen can become a more valuable player by being a more disciplined player

Thomas Drance
March 30 2016 04:36PM

Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin

It was a senseless hit and a late one that earned Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen the first suspension of his NHL career.

Virtanen, 19, was standing in front of the Sharks net in a forechecking position when San Jose Sharks defender Roman Polak made sure to knock the young Canucks forward’s stick out of his hand. As play moved the other way, Virtanen lined up Polak. Several beats after the veteran Sharks defender completed an outlet pass, Virtanen delivered a late, reckless hit from Polak’s blindside.

Polak was down for an extended period of time, though he returned to the game. Virtanen meanwhile earned himself a major penalty, an ejection, a telephonic hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety and a two-game suspension.

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