Benning: “If the kids deserve to be there, we’ll make room for them”

If we’re being honest with ourselves, most intermission interviews are cliche-filled piles of dead space that do nothing more than hold your attention span so the broadcaster can sell a less-desirable commercial break slot for just a little bit more. Sometimes, however, you gain some actual nuggets of information of them; Jim Benning’s chat with Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy was one of those times.

There’s been a lot of hype regarding 2014 first rounders Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann’s continued presence in training camp, and if you watch the games (unlike us), it’s not hard to see why. Virtanen won’t rest until every one of his opponents is left bruised by a thunderous bodycheck, and has displayed NHL-quality skating ability with a bit of offensive upside as well.

The Canucks General Manager has noticed this. “Jake, we know has the physical skills,” Benning said. “He’s a real good skater, he gets in on the forecheck, and he’s been physical. That’s a skillset that’s hard to find.” All the same, it was hinted that rushing the teenager onto the team may not be in his best interests. “He’s an interesting guy, but we want to make sure that we’re careful with him and we develop him properly.”

McCann, on the other hand, hasn’t been quite as intimidating of a physical presence, but has displayed an exemplary two-way, all while contributing on the scoreboard, like the equalizer in the first period of tonight’s game:

Benning noted that he the staff wanted a good look at McCann during this training camp and that he’s picked the perfect time to play his best hockey. “He’s had a real good camp so far. The thing that I like about him, he has good anticipation, he reads the play good and he has a fantastic release on his shot.”

Something that Benning stressed was that, in the event that one or both of these two go back to junior, it wouldn’t be a bad place for them to be. “They’re expected to produce when they go back, and they still have a lot to play for. Team Canada and the World Juniors is a big thing to play for. If they go back, they could be a big part of their teams.”

The two have certainly made their case to stay up, but as it stands, they’ll probably want to keep this run up for at least a few more days if they’d like a shot at sticking around. “We’re just taking it day by day now. We’re seeing how each game goes for the kids,” Benning said. “At the end of the day, if the kids deserve to be here, we’ll make room for them.”

  • Spiel

    Benning is running this team into the ground. Still can’t believe we drafted these two pluggers instead of the uber talented whiz kids like Ehlers, Nylansr, Ho-Sang, Barbashev or whatever other shifty little guy scored over a point a game in junior in 2014. Am I right, mr sillig ekim?

  • Spiel

    McCann deserves regular season play. Benning’s multi-million dollar disasters could certainly be waived to Utica with no chance of any other g.m. picking them up.

  • Spiel

    At the beginning of camp I was sure Jake would get a 10 game look and Jared would head back to Junior, but the tables have turned.

    Jake looks physical, but we don’t need a 4th line winger right now, but a 4th line center looks like serious need. It would be disappointing to lose Vey to waivers or have to release him, but he seems caught in between everything. He gets bigger, he slows down… He drops weight he gets pushed off the puck too much, we will see coming up, but I hope Jake and Jared get a long look.

    Also after Monday’s outing, Markstrom looks like he could be the real deal, which would justify Benning letting Lac go. Lack needs a new contract at the end of the season… Markstroms ceiling is higher, so keep up the good work and in a couple of years it could be Markstrom and Demko

  • SJ

    From what I’ve seen so far, the Canucks would be a better team with McCaan, Gaunce, Hutton and maybe Virtanen in the lineup rather than Vey, Higgins, Baertschi and Corrado. However the reality of the situation is that Benning traded for Baerschi and Vey and gave them one-way contracts so they are on the roster regardless how they’ve performed so far. Higgins has a NTC so he’s on the roster the last D seems to be Corrado. Benning’s comments about how going back to Junior wouldn’t be such a bad thing is just paving the way for Virtanen and McCaan to be returned to their Jr. Teams and for Gaunce to play until Higgins is healed then he’s off to Utica. Of all the younger players! I think they have no choice but to keep Hutton because he’s already better than Corrado, Bartkowski, Weber and Sbisa. Benning didn’t really know how good the young guys were so he made trades and gave stupid contracts that have left it difficult for anyone new to make the team.

    • Spiel

      “the Canucks would be a better team with McCaan, Gaunce, Hutton and maybe Virtanen in the lineup rather than Vey, Higgins, Baertschi and Corrado”

      I’m a big fan of Higgins. He’s a better player than people give him credit for, and precisely the type of savvy veteran you need to help develop young players. I don’t think Horvat would have been as successful last year without Higgins at this side.

      • SJ

        Completely agree. If Higgins was a few years younger, I’d say keep him. He is a great line 3 guy and a solid character guy. He is older so let’s get some assets for him. We still have the Sedins, Hasen and Burr to mentor players. Sutter may also help and so could Dorsett and Prust. Yes, Higgins is a solid player but he is moveable and we need to get assets when possible in order to shorten the rebuild.

      • SJ

        For a big fan you must have missed that the two of them hardly ever played together last year, the trio for the last half of the season was: Kenins, Horvat and Hansen. Higgins is a streak player offensively and is getting old, without the skill of the Sedins or the tenacity of Burrows, or the goal scoring ability of Vrbata. I would trade him as soon as he is healthy and promote Gaunce.

    • SJ

      So Benning didn’t know how good young guys like Hutton were when he traded Clandening and bumped him up the depth chart?

      A bit counter-intuitive don’t you think… hmmmmmmm

  • Spiel

    I’m hoping McCann and Virt go back so they can play top line minutes and in all situations. Let them develop a bit more. They won’t play all of those situations with the Canucks. Same for Hutton – let him be the top pairing D man and call him up when we deal some vets during the course of the year.

  • SJ

    I think people are getting a little ahead of themselves with Hutton. Don’t get me wrong, he looks great, but we have to remember that he’s been playing college hockey for the last 3 years. He hasn’t played more than 40 games in a season since he was in Jr A as a kid. That’s a HUGE adjustment to make from playing 35 or so college level games on the weekends to an 82-game schedule at the highest level in the world. I think you have to send him to the AHL for the season and ease him into it a bit. Otherwise he jumps in and pushes himself too hard; best case scenario he fades down the stretch, worst case he gets hurt. Corrado is ready, let him take that slot for now; Hutton can get some games when injuries happen, but otherwise get acclimated down in the AHL for a season.

    • SJ

      I agree. Corrado for now. Hutton can get acclimatized with the Comets, and be on of the first callups. He gets develops and gets stronger. We’re not winning anything this year anyway. And next year….Webber/Bartkowski/Hamhuis might not get re-signed anyway. GM or coach can then slot Corrado and Hutton for prime time.

  • SJ

    Many in this forum are keen to dump the older players and bring in youth wholesale. I see little good and a lot of harm in that.

    First, it would mean at least a couple of losing seasons that might be avoided. Fans like to see their team win and make the playoffs. That’s part of what they pay for.

    Second, the Canucks would not likely get much for most of their older players. These players tend to have big salaries and most teams have little salary cap room. The market is not good. Further, they don’t want a room full of geezers either.

    Third, to bring in young players too quickly can do a lot of damage to their careers and their bodies. They have to be strong enough and smart enough to withstand the rigours of the NHL.

    Fourth, veterans are exactly what young players need around them as they develop. They need those geezers to tell them how to play and how to behave, and to shoulder much of the pressure.

    So yes, bring up perhaps three young prospects per year for the next couple of years at least. But don’t bring them up all at once, nor too fast.