Photo Credit: TSN

Jim Benning’s post-draft lottery thoughts: “To keep falling down every year… that’s tough.”

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.

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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)


  • DeL

    JB said it like it is. The Canucks are going to get a very good defensive prospect. I’d like to see Bouchard putting on a Canucks jersey at the draft but it really comes down to whose available and mgmt. preference

  • wojohowitz

    The draft lottery is a bit like a political election. The winner thinks the system works great and doesn`t want any changes. The loser thinks it`s flawed and needs changes until they win and then they think it works great.

    Considering Carolina this year and Philly last year a different way to look at the probabilites is that a team ranked in the 11-15 range has maybe a 20% chance of moving into the top three and the team ranked in the 6-10 range has a 30% chance of moving into the top three. It makes more sense than focusing on Carolina winning with their 3%.

    Ty Smith could run their power play next season and he`s not even in the conversation but should be.

    • Mellowyellow

      The thing is this lottery is basically 3 lotteries within 1 lottery. Think about it from this perspective. As an aggregate of the 3 lotteries.. What are the canucks chances of falling back from 6th position… Pretty good chance! Why?.. The only scenario where they don’t fall back is the 3 worst teams stay within the top 3 in the lottery (order doesn’t matter…)..

      If you look at the % chances.. they really need to re-weight the distribution while giving bad teams a better chance… Its just ridiculous how the 3 worst teams can barely win 2/3 of the top 3 picks in consecutive years…

      • Sharpshooter

        Actually they fall back if any team with lower odds moves into the top 3. If a team with the 4th or 5th best odds moves up it would not affect the Canucks.

  • We’ll get a good player, no worries.

    Buffalo did a masterful tank job and reaped the reward, while lady luck smiled on the Canes. There really has to be a better way and as soon as changes are made, these changes will adversely affect the Vancouver Canucks.

    The draft lottery is just not meant for us.

  • argoleas

    Canucks keep learning the same lesson: They will never win a draft lottery. Never.

    Just keep drafting well. They will get great player, and the focus should be on getting more picks, and drafting well in subsequent rounds.

  • TheRealRusty

    “To keep falling down every year… that’s tough.”

    To keep watching this management team squander away rebuilding opportunities every year is just as tough…

  • liqueur des fenetres

    Try and read this ten times fast:

    “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.”

    • Lemmy Kilmister

      I don’t have a link but i recently read and interesting idea from Shane Doan in 2016 i believe, that once the teams are mathematically eliminated, then whoever gets the most points after that has a higher chance of getting the 1st pick.

      • Sharpshooter

        I believe that one is called the Gold Plan, and I don’t think it was Doan that came up with it originally. I recall it being kicked around by media for a few years before 2016, although who came up with it originally escapes me at the moment.

        • Lemmy Kilmister

          Thanks for clarifying that Sharpshooter, i should have rephrased that i read his comments about the idea not that he is the one who came up with it.

      • Mbossy22

        Yeah, it sounds like a good plan (Gold Plan), however, it’ll kill the trade deadline (as a spectacle) as the bottom-feeder teams may not turn into sellers in their chase for points.

  • Burnabybob

    The way I try to look at it is this: Canucks will either start to improve just through good drafting , signings and trades, or they will eventually catch a break in the draft lottery and score big. Eventually something’s gotta give.

  • Gino über alles

    This isn’t as big a loss as it could have been, and anyone drafting 1-9 is guaranteed a solid prospect. Dahlin goes first and, assuming that there is no way the 3 big left wingers in Svechnikov/Zdina/Tkachuk make it to 7th, that leaves 3 great options that will fall to us: Bouchard, Dobson, and Boqvist. And they are all not only going to be best player available but as they all project as top-4 RHD they will fit an organizational need perfectly.

  • Dirty30

    One good player can make a team better, but even one great player will not make a bad team good. See Buffalo, the Soilers, and to some extent, Ottawa.

    Vegas is good because all the players bought into the system and play it every night.

    It would have been awesome to build this team on Dahlin, but if anyone really believes Buffalo is going to be anything but competing with the Oilers for last place next season, well, good luck with that.

    So will our #7 pick get us to the play-offs next year? Nope. Get us out of running for last place? Probably not.

    Best thing to happen this season? Sedins retried. Now Management can no longer keep up the tired meme around ‘putting in a supporting cast to give Hank/Dank one more shot …’ Now its time for them to build a team. Stop sighing over-priced and under-performing hacks like Eriksson and Gagner and DMZ and Sutter and Gudbranson and create an opportunity and culture for young guys to play and learn and succeed.

    • DogBreath

      You contradict yourself. You start off by pointing out the results of the failed tank strategy and then advocate for it at the end. Unfortunately these hacks are buying time for the young guys to learn properly.

      Hate to say it, but Boston / SJ have done the rebuild masterfully. They have enough top end guys still leading the team (Chara, Bergeron, Marchand etc) while the DeBrusk’s etc learn without the pressure of being the leaders and being the face of accountability. Boston’s process has been imperfect, but it shows the benefits of learning in an environment where the veterans take the heat while the young guys learn.

          • DogBreath

            Yup, early returns aren’t great. Initiallly projected as a top 2 guy. Now being advertised as a top 4 guy. Projecting the growth of teenagers is imperfect. Wish it didn’t turn out that way, but it’s appearing that way.

            When it comes to the draft, you’ve got to look at the overall body of work of the GM, rather than focus on single picks. Would I rather Virtanen and joulevi had turned out better? Sure. Overall, though, his drafting has been very strong and what you need in this stage of a teams development.

  • Dan-gles

    I was trying to console myself after the bucks dropped to seven. So I looked at previous drafts to see what was taken at 7 and beyond. There is a lot of talent. Including Horvat taken at 9 and last year Keller taken at 7. So while we might miss on the big prize, we most certainly are adding a difference maker.

  • Fred-65

    Vcr gas two needs on defense, skill and size. If the skill isn’t there at the defense position maybe they should take a skilled forward such as Wahlstrom and grab some Defensive size in the second round such as Bahl or Miller

      • Cageyvet

        You can’t be laughing as hard as the rest of us were when you said, about a month ago, that Dahlin wouldn’t be selected at number one. Your credibility is zero, and your attacks on the Canucks management and other teams management is pathetic. Spend some time on the homefront, your Oilers have been leading the league in destroying all good things for a decade. How’s Larsen working out? Is he a Norris candidate, because Taylor Hall is up for the Hart. The Oilers’ slogan should be “Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory”.

  • Hockey123

    1. Buffalo Rasmus Dahlin
    2. Carolina Andrei Svechnikov
    3. Montreal Filip Zadina
    4. Ottawa Adam Boqvist
    5. Arizona Quinn Hughes
    6 Detroit Noah Dobson
    7. Vancouver Brady Tkachuk
    8. Chicago Evan Bouchard
    9 New York Oliver Wahlstrom
    10 Edmonton Jesperi Kotkaniemi,

  • kermit

    I don’t agree that the lottery is rigged, but the present system needs tweaking. I understand the concept, usually the teams at the bottom are almost all equally bad, and should all get a decent kick at the top picks, but usually half the teams that didn’t make the playoffs were still in contention until late in the season. Their odds of winning are long, but not that long when compared to the rest of us. Last year Phili, who narrowly missed the playoffs, had a 2.5% chance of winning, that’s only 1 chance in 40. But look at a team that finishes where we did this year, our chances were 7.5%, that’s only 3 chances in 40, still a long shot. The odds need to be more heavily weighted to the bottom teams. Either that, or bring back the rule that only allows a team to move up 5 spots. I think the reason for keeping the near-playoff teams in the lottery is about marketing. The NHL brass envies the interest paid to the NFL and NBA drafts and want to create some of the same excitement. They forget that the reason those drafts are so closely followed is because college football and basketball has national TV coverage. Do they really think people in Carolina tuned in to their lottery? I’m sure if they checked the ratings they’d probably find they were more likely to be watching practice runs at Talladega. The Canucks haven’t had bad luck, they’ve picked right where the probabilities said they would pick, but 6 out of 9 times, other teams have had good luck (with longer odds) and jump ahead of them. I didn’t mind a team like NJ moving ahead of us last year, they were just as bad as we were. What’s wrong is when teams like Phili and Carolina do it. One of these years a team that barely misses the playoffs will win the first overall pick and get a generational player, then the league may finally say, oops, maybe we need to do something about this.

  • LiborPolasek

    It seems unfair and that the Canucks have had the worst record in three years and the highest pick they’ve had is the fifth pick but as fans/managent we just have to grind it out. Perhaps like last year the Canucks might end up picking one of the best or the best player in the draft at #7. Due to the cap, parity among teams are quite evident.

  • Canuck70

    Interesting headline from the Montreal Gazette; “Montreal not lucky at draft lottery”.
    Hmm. ……
    I thought that they had good luck. Montreal moved up from 4th to pick third in the draft. Vancouver fans would have been ecstatic to move up even one spot in the draft. It looks like some Montreal reporters have a sense of entitlement.
    I hope the whiners and complainers from the Vancouver fan base can let go of their sense of loss, persecution, unfairness, and overall frustration at the last few lottery results. Benning gets to pick 7th in a very good draft year. We stand an excellent chance at getting a standout player. How many first pick selections have been busts? There are a lot of later draft picks that have excelled because they are late developers, fit into good circumstances with an NHL club, and more importantly; become great because they want to prove that they should have been picked higher.
    There is a likelihood that Vancouver will remain a lottery team for two to three more years. The odds are that Vancouver will win a 1-3 pick in another year or three. I look forward to this teams improvement.

  • “The first three numbers drawn for the first overall pick were 1, 4, 14, in that specific order. After those three numbers were called, Buffalo, Arizona, Vancouver and Chicago each had two number combinations remaining that could’ve seen them win the top selection, while Ottawa had three potential winning combos.”

    At least we weren’t Ottawa. After the first 3 balls, they had a 27% chance of winning Dahlin vs. 18% for everyone else.


    • truthseeker

      I’d love to believe that the draft conspiracy morons would read that and realize how stupid they are being, but I’m sure they’d just add it into the conspiracy like they always do. “Sportnet is in on it too!”.