Photo Credit: CanucksTV

Canucks make changes to amateur scouting staff

According to a report by Patrick Johnston of the Province, Chris MacDonald, Dan Palango and Paul Gallagher are no longer on the Canucks scouting staff.

While MacDonald left the Canucks to pursue a higher-profile position with another NHL team, Jim Benning confirmed Palango and Gallagher were let go by the team. The GM wouldn’t elaborate on the reasons why.

“We’re going to restructure the amateur scouting staff,” Benning said. “We’re going to have new people take on more responsibilities, some guys that have worked for us, that have been in charge of different areas.”

MacDonald was based in Kingston, Ontario and his most recent role with the Canucks saw him scouting in Ontario and Quebec. Palango was also based in Ontario and served as a cross-checker, providing a second opinion on the reports filed by primarily-level scouts on players.

According to the article by Johnston, both MacDonald and Palango were hired by the Canucks while Mike Gillis was GM, but that didn’t play into their departure, Benning said. The majority of the Canucks’ current scouting staff were originally hired by Benning’s predecessors, Gillis, Dave Nonis and Brian Burke.

Gallagher had been with the Canucks for the past two seasons after a long career scouting the Maritimes and Quebec for the Florida Panthers.

The last time the Canucks made significant changes to their scouting staff was 2017. It’s easy to speculate about the reasons for the most recent moves, but Benning is expected to provide further details later this month.

The Canucks haven’t exactly hit a goldmine recently in drafting players out of the OHL or QMJHL. Mikey DiPietro is a decent goaltending prospect out of the OHL and Zack MacEwen could be a nice steal as an undrafted player out of the QMJHL. It’s also the responsibility of the scouts to tell the team which players they wouldn’t recommend drafting.

There’s always room for improvement in every area of a team and GM Benning appears to be looking at all avenues when it comes to getting the Canucks set for the 2019-20 season.

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  • Not surprised with these moves. I thought Benning would clean house when he put in a common evaluation structure and was shifting guys to different scouting roles. He didn’t let anyone go then (e.g. Delorme) but perhaps after getting a chance to see how his scouts operate with his own eyes, he had justification to let some underperformers go. After seeing how a lot of the late round CHL players bust (e.g. Olson, Tate, Petit, McKenzie, Neill, Candella, Stukel) while post-1st round USHL and USNTDP players have exceeded their draft positions (e.g. Gaudette, Madden, Demko, Lockwood, Rathbone), this would make sense.

  • CamBurkePQW

    Benning has been riding the coat tails of his predecessors his entire time here… Elite scouts Brackett and Hammarstrom were GILLIS hires and the scout who found Petterssen, Thomas Gradin, was a Pat Quinn hire.

    This is simply Benning shuffling deckchairs below decks on the Titanic whilst relying on other peoples brilliance to avoid hitting the iceberg on the upper deck. Just the facts. #benningout #not-my-gm #gillis-keeps-giving

    • So what you’re saying is that Benning and Gillis had the same personnel. Gillis failed on every pick except Horvat and Hutton whereas Benning could find roster players in the 1st round and more importantly, in post-1st rounds. So really, your argument supports the notion that Benning is a draft guru and Gillis is a draft failure.

      • CamBurkePQW

        No, it does not… I’ll just cut n paste my patented response to put this ridiculous #fakenews GIillis draft narrative to bed where it belongs…

        Our only NHL GM of the year Mike Gillis was *not* hired by ownership to focus on drafting – he was employed to get us over the playoff hump during the franchises Stanley Cup window because Nonis and Burke couldn’t… and he did that in spades, coming within one game of immortality whilst owning the regular season for years.

        The Canucks were so good under GMMG he NEVER had a top nine first round pick **10th (from Nonis), 22nd, 115th, 29th, 26th** that’s it!!!,…

        When Mike was finally given the nod from ownership to start focusing on the draft in 2013, he then pulled Captain elect BOWIE HORVAT out of the hat with a franchise changing draft day trade. Outstanding.

        Benning has had NUMEROUS top ten picks since 2014… his record is a one and done humiliation and FOUR straight non playoff seasons.

        Smell the coffee Forever. It ain’t rocket science… except for trolls and fools.

        • Well, Mike Gillis seems to disagree with you, based on his own statement when he was hired: “I’m hoping to bring different ideas to the draft table and to player development.”

          So, what the facts clearly show is that Gillis was specifically focusing on drafting and player development when he was hired. Geezer, even Gillis doesn’t agree with his own apologists.

          Moreover, Gilman was on TSN radio about a year ago where he said that they made the Schneider trade the night before and had no idea who would be available for the draft at the #9. It wasn’t a brilliant draft day trade to capitalize on Horvat’s availability.
          So Gilman is contradicting the so-called draft prowess you claim they had too.

          Sorry, I had to spring facts on you rather than unsupported narrative.

        • Rich Dawson

          Ok so Gillis takes Schnieder ( a first round pick) after 8 plus years of development, legit starting goalie, and trades him for a first round pick 8th overall ( Horvat ) to start the development process all over again…is that called asset management? Benning came in with the cupboards bare….Let’s see, where is Yan Sauve, Alex Mallette, or Hunter Shinkaruk….nice….keep spinning the BS

        • bobdaley44

          Wasn’t hired to focus on drafting? Never knew a GM’s job was to neglect a pipeline of good players. Gillis scorched that organization barren. It’s still feeling the repercussions of the worst drafting regime in Canucks history and that’s saying something. Any good GM makes sure he’s drafting and developing regardless of where his team is at. He may have pulled a Horvat but he also pulled a Hodson and Patrick White out of the hat.

        • Killer Marmot

          Gillis’ drafting was horrendous. Over six years, he drafted one truly valuable player: Bo Horvat. Only three other of his picks have played more than 200 games: Hodgson, Connauton, and Hutton.

          Even given that Gillis never had a low pick, that is awful.

        • Bud Poile

          Every organisation is given the same amount of draft picks every year.
          Shinkaruk # 24
          Gaunce #26
          Jensen #29
          Boeser #23
          Demko #36
          Woo #37

          • CamBurkePQW

            Hahaha Dud strikes again… Boeser at 23 proven and that’s it!!!!!!!!!!!

            The Gillis legacy…
            FIVE divison titles, TWO presidents trophies, ONE Western Conf Championship, a game seven SC Final, two Art Ross, one Hart and a Selke… plus NHL GM of the year.
            Edler (via Nonis and locked up in his prime under market value by GMMG)
            Bo Horvat
            plus scouting greats Brackett and Hammarstrom

            The Benning legacy…
            zero playoffs four straight seasons and a one n done humiliaton against Calgary
            Pettersson *courtesy of Brackett and Gradin*
            Juolevi – biggest high pick BUST in Canucks draft history
            Virtanen second biggest high pick draft BUST in Canucks history
            Loui Eriksson… worst most expensive FA in franchise history

            NO contest – thank you Mike… off you go Dud, tail between legs

      • Defenceman Factory

        Regardless of anyone’s view we on Gillis, his drafting or Benning and his performance we all recognize PQW for what he is. Always better to ignore him. It’s not like something we might type here will have him suddenly become a reasonable person.

        In one of the last Wednesday radio spots Gilman did before going to Toronto he spoke quite candidly about the drafting while he with with the Canucks. He spoke candidly about doing a thorough review of their record and about Delourme. He said Delourme was and still is an excellent scout but as the head of scouting he just couldn’t come up with the “list”. He just didn’t have effective process to rank players against each other. He also talked about discovering through the review they had issues in how they compared point production between different leagues. Of note they concluded they undervalued points in the WHL which resulted in them skipping over players from that league.

        Years without a job in the NHL for Gillis, five and counting. Hard to believe such an elite talent would go unhired for that long.

        • 51Geezer

          Interesting to hear Gilman’s assessment of Ron Delorme. I have always blamed him for Patrick White and Jordan Schroeder but maybe I’ve been wrong to do so.

        • Flatus

          It seems all hockey clubs have a few hits and many, many misses at the draft. I cannot buy into the Juolevi and Virtanen hatred listed above when there are things like:
          1986 – Dan Woodley, 7th overall, 5 games, traded to Montreal and washed out.
          1989 – Jason Herter, 8th overall, no games, traded to Islanders, retired due to injury.
          1992 – Libor Polasek, 21st overall, vanished without a trace.
          2000 – Nathan Smith, 23rd overall, 5 games, serious knee injury effectively ended career.
          2007 – Patrick White, 25th overall, never played in NHL, traded to Sharks.
          2009 – Jordan Schroeder, 29th overall, 56 games limited by injuries, signed with Wild before washing out.
          2011 – Nicklas Jensen, 29th overall, 31 games in the NHL,

          So far from what I have seen, Virtanen has surpassed all the players. Granted he was drafted 6th overall, so he had a higher chance of success. The Canucks missed Nylander and Ehlers, but was there any way to gauge how well any of them would fare?

          As far as I am concerned, it is too early to judge Juolevi, considering his knee injury. All reports indicated he was making good progress prior to getting hurt.

    • J-Canuck

      That is ridiculous!
      GMJB was saddled with a bunch of older players w NTCs. Finding Brock at #23 and EP choice are all world! I was one of those guys saying… that skinny kid? Wrong!

      • LiborPolasek

        The only qualified GM in the eyes of our local genius is himself. Who can compare with someone who has the capability of hindsight and a reset button; he is probably in his tenth dynasty… pure genius !

  • Kanuckhotep

    I wonder if the shoe was on the other foot, so to speak, and have Gillis inherit what Benning left. Gillis had the greatest season in Canucks history in 2011 with all the individual and team hardware the club took home except you know what. GMMG wanted to keep the window open but reacted too late when it was obvious it was closing but still managed to snare Bo at #9. Maybe, for speculative purposes, GMJB would have done the same thing. And maybe Gillis would have to fill up the pipeline from what Benning left. The two don’t compare nor their situations. Gillis is a very smart dude and has admitted his mistakes but couldn’t draft worth crap. But let’s just hope these adjustments with the scouting staff has a positive impact, one where no one will care who is or isn’t the GM.

  • copey

    The argument that “When Mike was finally given the nod from ownership to start focusing on the draft…” is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read.

    Yeah, like a GM shouldn’t bother to focus on the draft, ever, until he’s told. It’s the job, like 1/4 of the job at least: active personnel and trading; finances; public outreach; drafting and development. So we’ll just pretend Gillis was ‘busy’ shall we?

    The drafting was godawful for 10 years. Only Horvat panned out in full, and Kesler before him; Bourdon we’ll never know, rip.

    Aquilini made Benning pick Virtanen who has rocks for brains, and Benning was too new to forge his own decision on that one, even though Virtanen was the consensus #6 rated player. As for Juolevi, he was the highest rated d-man too, so it is only in not going against the grain that GMJB screwed up, and in the aversion to a Russian d-man in Sergachev. And while Juolevi has been cursed since, there’s still hope. Meanwhile his other 1st rounders have all been hits, and some of his 2nd and 3rds as well. Woo looks great, Madden and Gaudette too.

    GMJB has done lots of awful things in scouting pro-players, but drafting is the one bright spot and there is no comparison to Gillis, who drafted basically nothing except Horvat, which we know now was a very fortunate pick indeed. The only other excellent player left in the 1st round after a stellar top 8 was Max Domi. They could have taken Samuel Morin who has played a grand total of 8 NHL games. Or Nichuskin, etc.

    So yeah, Gillis on focussed on drafting later is all-time dumb to write.

  • harpdog

    The sleezy weasel is at it again. This is a power hungry GM who is still trying to prove he is not a bad GM but his actions prove differently. Just fire him already and get a real man. But who would take over after we lost the 1st round pick for JT Miller. Aquilini wake up Trevor was Boss not this idiot.

  • Fred-65

    I had to laugh when recently Brian Burke stepped up to state “Benji” is a smart guy. My experience tells me when someone unsolicited wants to make a comment, take it with a pinch of salt. I think it’s fair to say when JB speaks most shudder. On the other hand Gillis was well spoken and articulate. Some had trouble with Gillis as they felt he spoke down to people. I hate to tell you this but that’s your problem. After his days with the Canucks Gillis took his settlement and then taught Law at U.Vic. The Gillis era was all about, I repeat all about winning the cup and man he came so, so, close. JB era is to rebuild a tired roster ( Tortorella’s opinion) and his first-round selections were Virtanen, McCann, Boeser, and Juolevi. His FA signing in order were Miller, Vrbata, McMillan, Bartkowski, Cracknell, and Zalewski. The best thing to happen to JB was promoting Brackett in 2015 August. Brackett, of course, was Gillis hire. I’m not against JB so much as I want to caution the praise. He’s had 6 first round selection ( excluding this year as we can’t judge) and of the 6 first round picks three are IMO worthy of their selection, that’s 50% man! Different era’s different goals. the Gillis/Gilman era has nothing to hang it’s head about and who knows JB may also take us to game 7 of the SC finals, some day

      • Fred-65

        I didn’t, I said he’s had SIX first round selections, and excluded the Russian kid. Everyone here knows who the six were. The ones I listed were his early attempts and who really scarred his reputation IMO. He has done well primarily since Brackett stepped his game up. But you have to admit there was a fair amount of luck with his last 3 picks. Podkolzin others didn’t want to touch the Russin for fear he’d stay in the KHL, Pettersson every team ahead of Vcr would have drafted him if they knew, so he fell to them as did Hughes. Great picks but a good hint of good fortune. Whoever is pulling the drafting string I hope he continues because the trend is definitely upward after a bad few early picks

        • Hughes was luck. Pettersson was the product of superior scouting. Podkolzin was typical NHL groupthink at work.

          Podkolzin others didn’t want to touch the Russin for fear he’d stay in the KHL

          Groupthink. Benning’s logic makes sense in retrospect: Any pick at #10 would have needed development time anyways. Same groupthink with defencemen: when Yzerman took Seider at #6, it caused a number of defencemen to be taken higher than they were ranked: Thomson, Bjornfort, Johnson. That also gave us the opportunity to draft Hoglander. Same thing happened in 2014 when Calgary took McDonald at #34. They made a bad pick (did not take best goaltender available) and we scooped Demko at #36 before the run picked up (with goaltenders taken at #37 and #39).

          Pettersson every team ahead of Vcr would have drafted him if they knew

          This is where your anti-Benning logic really falls apart. You admit that other teams didn’t know Pettersson was so good, therefore, their scouting failed them. Benning’s team, on the other hand, had targeted Pettersson right from the start (credit Delorme???). Therefore, Benning’s scouting was better than the scouting for NJ, Philly, Dallas, and Colorado. But in your mind, that’s pure luck. No, the logic does not follow your argument. Also note that Benning would have drafted either Makar or Pettersson so he was targeting guys that would either smash SHL/NHL records or win the Hobey Baker award (which he did anyways with Gaudette).

          he fell to them as did Hughes

          This is the only situation that I would chalk up to luck. Montreal drafted by position, Chayka went off the board with Hayton, and Detroit picked Zadina (best forward vs. best defenceman available). The significant number of disparate events outside of Vancouver’s control that worked to Vancouver’s benefit could be categorized as “luck”.

          • I don’t think there is any doubt that if Benning had the #1 pick, he would have drafted Makar, even over Pettersson. Benning said when he drafted Virtanen that the two hardest roles to fill were power forward and PP QB. And the thing that Benning said about Makar, unlike Hughes, is that he can hammer the puck.

        • kermit

          Benning should get credit for listening to his scouts. I read it was Tomas Gradin who pushed hard for Pettersson. Elias was not the consensus 5th overall. The 2019 draft will be a good litmus test for all the GM’s with picks 5 through 15, but we’ll have to wait a few years to know the results. Benning had many good prospects to choose from. Was Podkolzin a steal at 10? I’m hoping so, he looks like a Matthew Tkachuk type player, but better.

        • Killer Marmot

          But you have to admit there was a fair amount of luck with his last 3 picks.

          Luck and skill. Luck in that the other managers passed on those players, skill in that Benning didn’t. Every great draft pick requires that.

          • Fred-65

            Every great draft pick depends on that… sure didn’t work that way in 2014. He had two kicks at the can and punted on both of them. As someone else stated I don’t care if it’s Pee Wee Herman as GM as long as he succeeds. 5 years is a long time He maxed out on Cap space every year he’s been here and his success is marginal and indeed zero if we discount the 1 day every year when he drafts. When you think in dollar terms that’s 5 X US$70 million ( approx for each year ) = US$350 million. I think that’s a lot of money for very little return. Someone should run a book on the chances of his return the following season. I hope JB has put some of his salary under the mattress because I can’t see many teams giving him a second chance as a GM

    • Bud Poile

      Gillis is a well spoken,articulate, unemployed lawyer seeking a position that nobody will grant him.
      Been six years now,Fred.
      Yet, you shudder listening to a man that has been gainfully employed for nearly four decades in the NHL since he was a 20 year old NHL rookie.

      • Beer Can Boyd

        History judges by results. Unless Benning pulls a rabbit out of his hat, he will be gone at the end of the year. At that point, it will be inarguable that Gillis had the more impressive record as a Canucks GM.

        • And what state did Gillis leave the Canucks in? How many blue-chip prospects did Gillis leave vs. what Benning, Nonis, and Burke assembled? How was Gillis’s draft record compared to Burke, Nonis, and Benning? And what credit do you give Burke and Nonis, the guys who drafted the Sedins, Kesler, Bieksa, Edler, Schneider, Hansen, Raymond, and acquired Luongo, Salo, Burrows, and coach AV? The two GM’s who assembled virtually all of the Top 6 (5 of 6), Top 4 (3 of 4), and goaltending positions (starter and back-up)?

          • Beer Can Boyd

            But Burke and Nonis were both fired for their post season results. Benning likely will exit his time with one disappointing playoff appearance. Cutting and pasting from above, heres the Gillis legacy…
            FIVE divison titles, TWO presidents trophies, ONE Western Conf Championship, a game seven SC Final, two Art Ross, one Hart and a Selke… plus NHL GM of the year.
            This all happened on his watch.
            And really, I’m not arguing over whom was better, just stating results. They could hire Pee Wee Herman to be the GM, and as long as the team won, I’d be happy. As for Bennings “blue chip prospects”, what do you expect when you draft in the top 10 every year? And 2 of those picks have been pretty disappointing so far. But more than anything, he will be judged on his atrocious record of bidding against himself to sign mediocre UFA’s to ridiculous contracts that have handcuffed this team going forward. Myers being the latest in that line. Can we discuss that?

          • Can we discuss that?

            Sure, I’m more than happy to discuss Benning’s flaws. Here’s a recap of some of Benning’s flaws which I’ve posted before:

            “Benning sucks at trading and signing UFA’s and needs an AGM or Director of Professional Scouting with complimentary skills. Beagle and Roussel was too long. I hated the Gudbranson trade and projected McCann as our 2C. Signing bargain bin UFA’s like Skille, Megna, and Chaput was stupid. Benning should have retained Granlund, our most versatile forward. Goldobin should have been traded at last year’s trade deadline. Desjardins should have been fired a year earlier. The DiPietro/McKenna/Marazec/Leighton goaltender situation, as small as it was, was a stupid situation that Benning created himself and was unacceptable. Miller was an overpay, although not as bad as Benning-haters portray it as. Benning should have looked at trading Vrbata after the first year.”

            Did you not notice that I also heavily critique Benning’s mistakes? The main difference is that I do not exclusively focus on the negative. I look at the positives and negatives and back it up with verifiable facts in the form of information published by other reputable websites. In my opinion, Benning has learned from most of his mistakes yet isn’t infallible. Moreover, his ability to draft roster players and good prospects far outweighs the errors he made during his “retool on the fly” era where he was working with an empty prospect pool and stale roster locked in with NMC/NTC’s.

            Now let’s examine one of your statements: “This all happened on his watch.
            And really, I’m not arguing over whom was better, just stating results.” Can you agree that one can and should separate outcomes and processes and admit that Gillis’s success was the product of processes by Burke and Nonis? Can you see that there is a time factor such that the outcome of one’s actions may not be chronologically aligned with one’s processes?

          • Beer Can Boyd

            “Moreover, his ability to draft roster players and good prospects far outweighs the errors he made during his “retool on the fly” era”
            You have to be kidding. This team has the worst, or close to the worst record in the NHL during Bennings tenure. And its mainly due to his inability to identify pro talent, and to sign scrubs to ridiculous contracts. And he’s doing it to this day with the Myers contract and the insane overpayment for a 13 goal scorer. You’re going to forgive all that because he drafted Petterson and Hughes with 5th and 7th picks? Benning may be an excellent scout, but he is not a good GM, and the results prove it. If he screws up this Boeser deal because he’s butchered his cap room, there will be pitchforks and torches instead of scathing commentary.
            Gillis inherited a good roster and made it better. Benning inherited an aging roster, and decided that what it needed was really expensive veteran leadership. Sad, but true.

      • Fred-65

        Gillis was gainfully employed since he was drafted 5th O/A in 1978. After retiring from hockey he took his law degree at Queens and became a players agent in 1990 He sued Alan Eagleson and won for stealing his disability insurance. He became GM of the Canucks in 2008 and in 2010 won the GM of the year award ( voted by other GM’s ) He was fired by Aquaman and went to U.Vic to teach law and live off his ( $10 million settlement ) Nothing there suggest to me he’s an idiot and has been in and around hockey since his junior hockey days. As I’ve said I don’t care if it’s Pee Wee Herman but let me just say when …. when JB ( and I hope he does ) has guided his team to 2 Pres. Trophies, gone to the SC finals and won the GM of the year award …. when that happens I certainly wont deride the man, I’ll be happy to give him the praise he would deserve