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.
“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.