2019 NHL Draft: Jim Benning planning on sticking to his list

GM Jim Benning will reportedly be sticking to his list come draft day on June. 21 in Vancouver.

The Canucks’ GM provided some good quotes to Ben Kuzma of The Province about his strategy for the 2019 NHL Draft.

Despite constant strategy talk from media and fans about who the Canucks should draft, it looks like Benning will be tuning out the “outside” noise and going with the list the Canucks have put together.

“We do our list by not listening to the outside noise and we put players in an order we feel strongly about,” Benning said. “We go with our order rather than listening to other people strategizing about where players should go.”

Kuzma lists three players the Canucks may be targeting with their 10th overall pick — Mobile blueliner Victor Soderstrom out of the SHL, power forward Matthew Boldy from the USHL and skilled winger Trevor Zegras, who is also out of the USHL.

It’s pretty clear the Canucks biggest needs are defense and wingers. Soderstrom may be one of the most intriguing options. EliteProspects has a great write-up on what the blueliner brings to the table:

“An uber competitive two-way defenceman that thinks the game at the highest level, Victor Söderström is the complete package. A naturally gifted skater, his ability to traverse all three zones is best described as smooth and effortless. He never looks disinterested and it’s always apparent just how badly he wants to win. His vision and awareness is outstanding, allowing him to play a responsible yet dynamic brand of hockey. He’s a dangerous puck-carrier with a great shot. Defensively, he makes good decisions quickly and consistently, never looking out of place when pitted up against the other team’s top players. He pressures the opposition and limits options, never getting in the way of his goalie. All-in-all, Söderström’s competitive instincts allow him to take full advantage of his offensive ability and defensive prowess. He’s a game-changer.”

It looks like Benning is open to trading to move up in the draft, but it has to be the right price. Benning notes that over the last few years the Canucks have gotten lucky with great players falling a few spots and landing in their lap.

“I feel we’re going to get a good player at No.10, so depending on what the cost is to move up, we’ll look into it,” said Benning. “But if it’s too much and we have to give up a second-round pick, that’s too much because the draft is deep enough.

“And you just don’t know how the draft is going to fall. We could have a player rated in the top six falling to us at 10. The last couple of drafts, we’ve been lucky with players we really like falling into our lap (Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson) and we hope that happens again this year.”

Reading between the lines, it appears Benning may take a blueliner at 10th overall unless an elite forward falls to the Canucks — which is very possible.

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“Defenceman are deep this year, maybe not at the high end, but once you get halfway through the first round, there’s a lot that we like,” added Benning. “If that guy is there at No. 10 we’ll be taking him. It’s been proved by teams still playing that good teams are built through goal, defence and centre. That’s the basic principle.”

The Canucks are believed to have serious interest in Soderstrom. Fellow countryman Philip Broberg (D) may also be available. But if Boldy or Zegras drop a few spots, you have to think the Canucks would jump on the opportunity to land a great forward to improve their group of wingers.

Either way, it appears Benning has a plan for draft day and nothing from the outside is going to make him change course.

  • I think Soderstrom should be merit strong consideration but one writer (whom I have forgotten) threw out an interesting thought: “If Soderstrom was left-handed, he’d be drafted in the bottom half of the draft”. I wonder how much of an influence his position is on his ranking?

    • Bud Poile

      “Certainly in the first round we’ll be true to our list.
      As the draft unfolds if we see the need to get a defenceman or need to address our size or our goaltending that’s where you have some variation as you get later in the draft. But early, we’ll certainly be focused on best-available.” Judd Brackett April 19,2019

  • Fred-65

    I kind of doubt Ziegras will be available, he’s been moving up slowly but surely. I understand he brings a high skill and compete level. From Cam Robinson who I like to follow

    “Trevor Zegras, C / 03-20-01 / 5’11 159lbs / USNTDP
    A creative player with exciting puck skills. Zegras blends good speed with unique lines to cause separation through the neutral zone and distribute effectively to his mates. He’s been dynamite as the 2C with The Program. His time on the top power-play unit helps showcase his high-end vision. People are sleeping on him now; that won’t last long.”

    • Locust

      Please tell me the 159lbs is a typo……
      How would a 159lb centre stand up to the Blues forecheck when he is in the corner helping out his dman….. splat! Creative, fast and small works in the regular season, not in the playoffs.

      • Spiel

        I’m not saying that program hasn’t produced great players, they have. I just question whether there are 5 top 10 picks sitting on the team. Hughes aside, do you not think it is possible that people are getting a bit caught up in thinking ALL of Boldy, Caufield, Zegras and Turcotte are can’t miss NHL stars?

  • Locust

    Great Captain Obvious headline “Has a list, sticking to it”

    “Personally, I have my staff spend hundreds of hours to rank our potential picks then on draft day go off the list and take a different guy because he has a hot mom” said no GM ever.

    • Locust: “Personally, I have my staff spend hundreds of hours to rank our potential picks then on draft day go off the list and take a different guy because he has a hot mom” said no GM ever.

      You need to study your draft history. Steve Tambellini overruled his scouts in 2012 to draft Nail Yakupov over Ryan Murray. Murray wasn’t a good pick either but Tambellini’s scouts consistently told him *not* to draft Yakupov because he had no hockey IQ. He stabbed his scouts in the back at the draft podium because Yakupov was the consensus #1 draft pick according to the draft rankings.


    • Dirk22

      No that’s genuinely his take. He thinks the Bruins are all 6’3, 215 because once upon a time they were the big bad Bruins. Meanwhile the leading scorer for the Bruins in the playoffs is 5’9 and the leading scorer for the Blues is 5’10. I don’t think this guy actually ‘watches the games.’

  • j2daff

    “Defenceman are deep this year, maybe not at the high end, but once you get halfway through the first round, there’s a lot that we like,” added Benning. “If that guy is there at No. 10 we’ll be taking him. It’s been proved by teams still playing that good teams are built through goal, defence and centre. That’s the basic principle.” this is a scary statement if I am reading it correctly. Basically says there’s a lot of good(not elite) dman ranked after 15 but if the one Benning wants is there at 10 he will be taking him. Unless he is referring to Byram I sure hope I am reading that wrong or out of context.

    • I wouldn’t be worried about a statement like that. Benning went against the grain to take Pettersson over Glass. York and Soderstrom have been rated as Top 4 with top pairing potential. Guys like McAvoy, Chabot, Brannstrom, and Valimaki were all mid-round 1sts and it would be great if we had any of those guys.

    • DJ_44

      You are reading it incorrectly…as the context in which the original question was asked is absent. It was a response to trading up…at the expense of a second rounder. They obviously like a dman high…i would assume it is Byram.

  • Fred-65

    Can I bounce something off the knowledgable fans on this site. How about JB does a Brian Burke at this year’s draft. Give me your objections, but keep the comments clean LOL

    We send our #10 pick along with Juolevi to Chicago for their #3 …….. then …
    We send our #3 along with Madden to NJ for their #1 and maybe a pick in 2020

    We give up Juolevi and Madden for Jack Hughes.
    NJ comes out with a #3 pick still getting an excellent player plus Madden ( his father played a long time in NJ )
    Chicago, assuming they were going to take Bowen, now come out with Soderstrom ( or whoever) and Juolevi ie two good D

    Lots of moving pieces but it looks to me like everyone gets better

    • kermit

      That’s a more plausible deal that a lot of the ones that get floated out there in Canuck fan land. But would the Blackhawks do it? They won their cups with a core of elite players. They probably look at Turcotte as being an eventual replacement for Toews, or Byram as another Keith.

    • North Van Halen

      Plain and simple our 10th & Juolevi doesn’t do it. I’m not sure what it would take but our 1st, 2nd & Juolevi MIGHT start a conversation…then NJ isn’t trading their pick for the 3rd & Madden, add our 1st next year as a minimum.
      So now we’re at two 1sts, a 2nd, Juolevi, Madden & we’re still not sure it’s enough. Hughes & Kakko look great but this is starting to look awfully expensive.

    • The only reason why Burke was able to do what he did was because the 1999 draft was ranked as weak. History shows that it was one of the worst drafts ever, maybe 10 NHL drafts came out of it and even the #1 overall was an embarrassing failure (missing an open net breakaway to give up a game winning goal). Teams were happy to get rid of their 1999 picks cheap.

  • speering major

    I love the idea of the Canucks moving assets like Tanev, Sutter, Hutton, Goldobin, etc in a package to move up from 35th in to the top 20ish range. Maybe even a 2020 pick. This of course is dependent on the Canucks feeling like there’s quality depth in that range this year, which it sounds like they do

    IMO the Canucks need to stack the prospect pool ASAP. This should be a painful year and the team could add another swing at the lottery next year. D take longer to develop and optimistically it’s still 2 years minimum for players outside the top 10 to contend for a NHL roster spot. The Canucks should be looking to accelerate the depth of the pool ASAP. They need to have a pool of Kole Lind and O.J.’s that can emerge in a year or two (and as we’ve seen, often longer). Yes having more picks is the best way to build a deep pool but the Canucks need to harvest NHL players ASAP. They can’t keep picking up guys like Gagner, Spooner, Pearson, Roussel, Motte, etc to fill roster spots moving forward. People complain but they need to ice an NHL team.

    The best way to do that is to have high probability picks where you’re also selecting more developed kids who are closer to contending for a NHL job. Not only do I think the Canucks should move vets to accomplish that, I also think they should be open to moving one of next years picks to move up if there’s a player they want to target.

    When a team like the leafs is building depth by the numbers around Mathews and Marner, keep in mind that they already have quality depth like Kadri, Nylander, Reilly, and Gardiner. They were able to move on from Phaneuf, JVR, Kessel, Bozak, etc to acquire assets or because they had org depth to move on. If the Canucks can’t get prospects pushing for jobs then Benning can’t sell assets and he will have to keep plugging holes with the F.A. signings that people hate so much. IMO the fastest way to do this is higher probability and more developed prospects at the higher end of the draft.

    At this point I think it’s more of a priority than # of draft picks, which is also very valuable (but not the priority in this situation IMO). # of picks adds org depth and definitely leads to teams harvesting gems in the mid rounds. The problem is that happens 4-6 years down the road most often. The Canucks need players that can play in the NHL ASAP that can end this cycle of Benning having to plug in the holes with FA’s or bad contracts. IMO the best way to do this is to be moving up from the 2nd round pick and target someone they like slipping passed 20th.

    • Fred-65

      Big gamble trading NHL players, no matter if they’re at the end of their careers or not, for players with little more than a 20-30% chance of ever playing in the NHL. Fans tend to get over excited about players such as Woo. The fact is he’s certainly going to be pushing the odds to ever become a NHL player. Take a look at Lind, a 90 pts player in Junior = 17 pt player in the AHL … AHL! I kow we can all dream about patience and carrying a rabbits foot at all time but you have to look at facts and reality. Ocassionally we may hit pay dirt ( exclude goalies who are generally taken with late pick because of their incubation time ) There’s a chnace with Madden, Rathbone but then think Hobey Baker award winner Gaudette ( 23 in Octoberand think of his impact in the NHL

      • speering major

        The players you mentioned are highlighting my point. Lind, Gadjovich, Gaudette, Madden, Rathbone, etc are all good prospects. They’re also a 4+ year project to get to the NHL. Take a look at players drafted in the 20-30 range though. Well over half are getting a crack at the NHL in their D+ 2 season in the last couple years.

        Look at the 20014,15, and 16 drafts. Reports are that there is depth late in the first round this year. If Benning sees a guy he likes, or someone falls, I definitely support a move to trade up from their second round pick.

        • Cageyvet

          Me too, but careful what you pay, if you’re going up 10-15 spots and are still 20th at best, you shouldn’t need to give up what was suggested. Tanev alone has to get you that upgrade, he’s not that devalued.

          • speering major

            Yeah I’m not suggesting they give away tons of value to move up or even do it at all. I’m saying it would be wise to do so if they can put together a fair deal and there’s a player they want to target. Another way to get it done is to take on a bad contract from a team that has cap issues. TB has Callahan signed for 1 more year at 5.8, Dallas has Hanzal at 4.75. Those are the types of teams in a situation where they could be willing to move up or down if you free up some cap issues for them. Also adding a depth center gives you room to move Sutter and give ice time to guys like Gaudette

    • Doodly Doot

      Hey speering major, props for putting a lot of thought into this perspective. You make some interesting points. I don’t agree though that 19/20 will be a painful year. In fact, I think it’s more likely than not that they make the playoffs. Goaltending and D will be much better with the addition of Demko and Hughes (and subtraction of DZ, Guddy, and Pouliot). Boeser is going to start healthy, as will Baertschi, and the new additions of Leivo and Pearson should be solidly integrated into the team culture. With the exception of Loui and possibly Goldy, the team as a whole will be better than decent. I feel like Jake might make some real strides. Especially if Green puts him with Tanner and Bo. That’s his path to greatness. So IMO there will be no tanking for high picks next year.

      I do like the idea of bundling assets for higher picks but it’s a slipper slope to overspending. Especially with our man ‘diamond’ Jim. Concentrating on quality in the draft over quantity can be a means to a better way, especially if the scouting department can continue to up it’s game on unsigned college players and cherry-picking from the Swedish and Russian pro ranks. Value is out there, if you look hard enough.

      • speering major

        They are very thin depth wise and have a bunch of players with a history of injury issues. It’s definitely one of the weaker rosters in the league. I really like the core 4 and think highly of the prospect pool being built. IMO everything needs to go right next year and they also need to get hot/luck. It could happen but I would rather Benning be a seller and look to switch gears after the 2020 draft. 2 more top 10 picks and the org should be in good shape.

  • Doodly Doot

    I like it. Sounds like JB is ‘steady as she goes’ with the draft mentality. I like his focus on Soderstrom, Zegras and Boldy. All good picks. I still hope he goes off script a bit and takes Broberg, but for sure we will get a good player. Interestingly, this pick could be a rookie down the road in a year the Canucks are doing something in the playoffs. Fun stuff.

      • Doodly Doot

        Thumbs up Puck Viking! Only downside is the waiting…
        Meanwhile, with only Edler(?), Tanev, Stecher and Hughes as locks to make the team next year, we get all of Sautner, Brisebois, Teves and Rafferty competing with Hutton and Juolevi for likely bottom pair duties. Schenn(?) and Biega are likely 6-7. Moving Hutton for a pick now is something I like, but if he shows well at camp, he might attract modest value at the trade deadline. About Mitch Eliot: he seems like a plausible future Biega-type journeyman. Having him working his game in Utica with hopefully decent minutes gives the Canucks another pinch of depth on the right side. I like his decision to leave the NCAA for more ice-time in the OHL. That shows he’s all-in for a shot at the show.