Bo Horvat’s spot on Jim Benning’s “Roster Wall” remains blurry

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.

  • Question:

    Nick Bonino or Tyler Bozak?

    Seems like a lot of the criticism TLN throws at Tyler Bozak (possession drag, point totals are because of his superstar wingers, not really a top-six centre) have also been directed toward Bonino. Are they similar sorts of players?

    • Scruffy05

      Way too early to put the Bozak label on Bonino.

      We have a quite a bit of evidence that shows Bozak is an anchor, Bonino has played one full season. Give Nick a year or two as the undisputed #2 center, with some offensively talented wingers around him…

      • Mantastic

        Bonino has almost played 200 NHL games already, the sample size is large enough to start drawing a pretty solid conclusion.

        and Bonino has played with plenty of offensively talent wingers, he’ll be hard pressed to play with anyone offensively better in Vancouver.

  • Scruffy05

    The most intriguing thing about this is that the numbers listed beside each player aren’t jersey numbers… they appear to be EA Sports style player ratings.

    However they are not ‘Overall’ but something far more esoteric. He has Crosby and Malkin at only 89 and 86 respectively. Boone Jenner is 93.

    I think it is an aggregated number combining ability, contract, age, potential and, possibly, our teams needs so that when a trade is discussed he can easily look at the board and go “We have him as a 95, they only want an 86 for him, this is a good move.”

  • Scruffy05

    Also, it looks like our 3C is Vey, he is the only person who name is short enough to fit that whole. ‘##Vey’

    Same as the backup goalie is obviously ‘##Lack’ though there is no great revelation there.

    At least in Jim Benning’s mind, Desjardins might have a different opinion.

    • Mantastic

      yep, I agree with that. # 4 centre – based on the blurry chart – seems to be Richardson rather than Matthias who seems to be in the 5 hole or maybe a winger. Sbisa looks to be the last pairing, left side d man.

  • Scruffy05

    Hahaha sounds like McCann and Cassels are really getting along. That’s cool, anyone can play. It’s good for team camaraderie. Haha Seriously though, mono sucks. I had it and strep throat last year and I lost over 20 lbs of muscle in 2 months… it’s so hard to keep your conditioning with that disease. Oh well, it’s the right time of year for them I guess. I wish them luck.

  • Scruffy05

    I don’t care if he carves them on wood or sews the lineups onto pillows and sleeps on trades….

    As long as he can find trades like the Vey trade, I’m down.

  • Mantastic

    Numbers beside the names certainly correspond to the players’ birth years, but what I find interesting is the blue versus black color-coding of names. At first glance, the blue names seem to suggest “desireable” players for trading or free-agent signing purposes. If so, Ovechkin won’t be wearing the orca under Benning’s watch, nor will Hodgson be welcomed home.

  • Mantastic

    While you guys might think writing down lineups is dated because Capgeek exists, I find that site’s depth chart is easily the worst thing about it. Sure you can swap things around as you need, but at that point you might as well just write everything down and gain the tactile learning of doing that.