Noted friend of the blog Dan Murphy ran an interesting little interview with Jim Benning today, which pivoted off of something we already knew about the team’s GM and the way he likes to conduct his business. In the video, Benning said of his “roster wall”:
“Yeah, so I keep it updated if there’s trades, if players get sent down, young players make teams. I try to keep it updated throughout the year so I know what’s going on with all of the players in the league.
We’ll be brainstorming and we’ll look at other teams. If there’s things we think we might be able to do, we can go from one team to the other team and it keeps the conversation going. Instead of on the computer, where you have to flip from team to team..”
As a visual learner that benefits from having written things out myself on occasion, I can understand where Benning is coming from. Still, that hardly means we can’t poke a little harmless fun at the expense of his time consuming, dated habits. But more noteworthy than that, ultimately, was the part of the interview in which he had Sportsnet blur his own team’s roster out.
“Benning has an idea of what his team will look like after camp, but he’s not willing to share that.”
For whatever it’s worth – which admittedly may not be very much at all beyond just light offseason banter, but nonetheless holds water given the source – The Hockey Godfather was on the radio this afternoon talking about the Canucks roster. In his hit, McKenzie’s thoughts on the chances of the player we deemed the franchise’s number one prospect making the opening day roster came up:
“I wouldn’t put money on it [Horvat making the team]. It’s one of those ones where it wouldn’t surprise me, but I think the Canucks are smart enough here and I think Jimmy Benning and Willie Desjardins will be smart enough here that if they’re going to do it they’re going to do it for the right reasons and not the wrong reasons.
The wrong reason is ‘Look everyone, one of our draft picks made it. One of our draft picks is in the lineup. Isn’t that great? We’re doing a great job here. Here comes the youth. Here come the kids. This is tangible evidence that even though we preserved the veteran core of this team, with Sedins and Bieksa and Edler and everyone else, that we are bringing along young talent and here’s the tangible proof of that, so get off our back.’ That’s the bad reason to do it.
The good reason to do it is that he earns it. That he’s a better option than Linden Vey or Brad Richardson or Shawn Matthias or whoever you might have pencilled in behind Sedin in the centre ice spot. And let’s be honest, it’s wide open to that extent. It’s an area of weakness, I guess, but it’s an area they also think they have addressed and that Vey or Matthias or Richardson are going to be able to step up and fill the void created by Kesler.”
Interesting. As our buddy Harrison Mooney was quick to point out, it’s initially somewhat eyebrow-raising that McKenzie failed to mention Nick Bonino’s name when rattling off Canucks pivots behind Henrik Sedin. In reality, readers of this blog know it’s more likely just further proof of how highly the team’s brass thinks of him. “Vey, Richardson, Matthias or whoever [i.e. Horvat]” are competing for bottom-6 spots, with the top two positions down the middle already having long since been locked up. After all, we know Jim Benning loves him some Nick Bonino.
For Horvat, the chances of actually making the team out of camp may still remain paltry, but at least they should in theory be markedly higher than they were at this time last year. His first chance to “earn it” starts tomorrow night, when the Canucks prospects take on their Edmonton Oilers peers to kick off the Young Stars Classic Tournament in Penticton.
There will be a handful of notable prospects that will bear watching throughout the weekend, though it’s worth noting that the list of names did shrink by two today when news broke that Jared McCann and Cole Cassels have both been scratched due to their respective bouts with Mono. Kids these days.