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.
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
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
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.”