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

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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.”

Benning
says he’s been active on the phones exploring a number of trade scenarios, but
as the clock tick towards the 7pm local start of Friday’s first round, it seems
more and more likely that the Canucks will maintain their spot in the draft
order and head to the podium with the fifth selection.

“It’s going to take a lot to get
that number five pick away from us,” he suggested. “I would say as of now that
we’re keeping the pick and we’re going to make the pick at five. We’ve had a
lot of calls throughout this whole week. As we come in here now, there have
been some conversations but kind of on conversations we’ve had going on for the
last couple of weeks. There have been a lot of calls and a lot of interest in
the number five pick so far, and we’ll just see where it goes the next day or
so.”

As it stands right now, the
Canucks hold the fifth pick in the draft, but only one other selection in the
top 139 (they have the 64th selection overall early in round three).
Benning has said repeatedly he would like to add an additional pick in the
early rounds on day two of the draft, but claims that’s likely to prove too big
a challenge at this stage of the proceedings.

“I’ve been talking to lots of
teams and it seems the two hardest things to do right now are move money – move
existing contracts – and to try to come up with extra draft picks,” he said
admitting that he has tried to accomplish both of those objectives. “We’re
going to continue to try, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen.”

As for the player the Canucks
hope to nab with the fifth pick, Benning refused to get into specifics or offer
any hints. He did, however, say that he believes there is little separation
between the players the Canucks have ranked fourth, fifth and sixth in the
draft. He also revealed that the Canucks believe there is one defenseman who
has separated himself from the pack of blueliners likely to be snapped up in the
opening round of the draft.

“We like six players and we know
we’re getting one of those guys we want,” he says. “For us there is a clear cut
defenseman (who stands out above the rest). Maybe for other teams it’s
different, but there is a clear number one for us.”

Overall, Benning questions the
depth of this draft compared to recent ones which made lead to a slight change
in strategy on the second day of the event.

“I don’t feel the second round is
as strong as it was the past six or eight previous drafts,” he explains. “And
from the fourth round on, I think it falls off quite a bit depth wise. I could
see more teams taking more 19-year-olds later in the draft.”

  • TrueBlue

    Okay, that was a bit of a confusing headline. I thought Benning had changed his stance on the projected development of the D in this draft, saying “there is a clear #1 defenseman” in this draft.

    Sounds like what he’s actually saying is that there is a clear “top choice” defenseman… a player who has separated himself from the other 2-3 top guys.

  • TrueBlue

    Is Ryan Biech the new head guy around here…

    It is clear based on blog volume that Burke has been unofficially demoted.

    But until CA makes an official announcement, NM00 will not be attending the draft party…

    • Chowderhead

      What a strange whine. You could always do a 2000 word article with charts showing what percentage of articles JD is no longer a part of and build an argument based solely on his positive content stats to argue he’s the greatest blogger of all time.

      Or you could go watch your team draft at a draft party and have some beers.

  • TrueBlue

    Seems to me Benning either trades up and takes Columbus 3 pick for JesseP OR stays at 5 and grabs Dubois or Tkachuk,that seems like can not miss.Funnything is Benning wanting to add picks? Then maybe he should not have traded away so many as traderJim? As for Biech,lol

    • Fred-65

      The Vey second rounder is the only one that really stings to me… the rest I think the Canucks got valuable assets back in return. Did all those trades have equal value of return on both sides? That can be debated, but none the less, they brought back players that I think add solid depth and good character.

      Everyone wants the “full rebuild”… let’s face it, it takes most players a good 3-4 years to properly develop after being drafted. And most of that is ON THE FARM. What does that mean? Crappy hockey at Rogers for at least 5 years (2 to 3 draft cycles). There is NO WAY this bandwagon fan base could ever sustain a TRUE, “through the draft” rebuild. ZERO. So let’s not kid ourselves.

      I see nothing wrong with juggling the two agendas for the next couple of years while the Sedins are under contract. Bring up young players slowly… one or two per year. Surround them with overpriced UFAs that will fall off your cap by the time your young guys are past their entry level deals and need new contracts (ala Miller next year, Sbisa the next, then Dorsett). Let them learn.

      …worst case scenario if it fails and you suck? …you can call it a full rebuild with high draft positions anyway!

  • TrueBlue

    And if we let hamhuis walk with dorsett we could land lucic and those 2 contracts would pay his salary. This beast who is nasty and skilled needs to come home, not to Edmonton that would be too much to take after they got Conner with there 20th consecutive 1st overall pick,lol geez!

  • TrueBlue

    So the draft picks Benning walked from in the Hamhuis deal turn out to be valuable commodities? At least the league know Benning can’t be taking advantage of.

  • Dan B

    Maybe he’s going to take a defensemen. He’s said before that if there’s not much difference between available players, then he’d pick the d-man. Now he’s saying that there’s not much difference between the guys he’s got 4/5/6, and that one of those guys is a defensemen.

    Or maybe it’s just a mind game, he likes Tkachuk and he’s trying to drop sutle hints to get Chiarelli to take Juolevi?

    Either way, can’t wait till tomorrow, it’s going to be exciting.

  • Chungus

    I think Benning wants Dubois at #5. However, as a long-term, long-suffering Canucks fan, I also fear that Edmonton will trade #4 to Montreal and Dubois will be gone. I think Benning is ready for this and might take a D-man over Tkachuk.

    • Dirty30

      If Tkachuk is still there its an interesting question whether JB has a deal in principle with Arizona to move down for a basket full of goodies! He can still get a good Dman with Arizona’s #1 pick and hopefully get enough other picks to make the draft a bit more exciting.

  • BR(j)ED

    Why are ppl suddenly realizing only now that the 2nd round has a substantial talent drop off compared to previous years?
    Is trading those 2nd round picks for foundational pieces looking like such a bad thing with that in consideration?

    Can we perhaps admit that the Canucks management group made some educated decisions, based on excellen talent evaluation?