The Vancouver Canucks’ long-standing history of bad luck wasn’t reversed Saturday evening. It was quantitatively more likely that the Canucks were going to drop to 7th or 8th overall, and that they did. Fans are all too familiar with the disappointment that comes with the draft lottery, having moved down in three consecutive years. Jim Benning spoke with TSN and TSN 1040 after the lottery results and was understandably dejected.
Benning: “I’m disappointed. I was hoping this was going to be our year and we could move up, but we weren’t able to. We got the 7th pick, we’re going to get a good player there and we have to live with it. Going in, I knew we had a 58% chance of picking 7th or 8th. You always dream and hope that you’re lucky enough to move up. It wasn’t meant to be.”
The NHL changed the draft lottery rules in response to Edmonton’s run of first-overall picks. A significant case can be made that today’s format is unrealistic given the true objective of the entry draft. Look no further than last year’s lottery – where both Dallas and Philadelphia moved up to the top three after being in the thick of a playoff race – as an example of why the system is flawed. One could also use the Carolina Hurricanes, whose odds were less than 3%, as a justification for why something needs to be changed. The draft is meant to even the playing field by providing poor teams with the opportunity to select top talent. The lottery robs teams of that luxury, while simultaneously rewarding others who don’t necessarily need it.
Benning on the lottery system:“We have to live with the way the rules are set up. To keep falling down every year… that’s tough. Having said that, we drafted Boeser 23rd overall and Pettersson 5th overall. If we keep doing the work, there’s no reason why we can’t get a real good player at 7. Personally, I like the system they had before where it was the top 5 and only one team could go by you. It affects us more now and it’s upsetting.”
It’s no secret that the Canucks need to add a high-end prospect on the blueline and, luckily for them, a crop will be available. Quinn Hughes, Adam Boqvist, Noah Dobson, and Evan Bouchard are all players to keep an eye on as one of them will likely throw on the Canucks jersey in June. Last year, the Canucks released multiple videos of Benning giving a brief scouting report on the top draft-eligible players, which led me to dissect his comments in an attempt to uncover which prospect they were keenly interested in. Hopefully their digital content team does a similar series as I found it to be a particularly interesting and inquisitive activity.
“I instructed our guys (scouts) that this could happen and we could be picking 9th. I told them to do the work and there are 10 guys that we really like. We just have to make sure that we have them in the right order. There are at least two or three [defensemen] that we really like. We’re going to take the best player available. If there’s another forward at 7 that we feel will turn out to be the best player, we’re going to take the best player available.” (TSN 1040)
“I think the players at the top of the draft have a chance to step in and play next year. The pick at 7, I would think, would probably need a year of development whether it be in college or junior. We’ll see what type of summer they have and how they perform at training camp. One thing about this year’s draft is that there’s a lot of depth at defense, especially in the 5-10 group. We need some scoring at defense and there are some players that can fill that void for us. We’re going to take the best player available wherever we pick.” (TSN)