GM Benning hopes wild game, delayed draft is win-win for Canucks

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“It will depend on the performance of the players upon their return. Maybe we are able to withdraw a player because we have some depth to reacquire that second round choice. – Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning

Jim Benning was pretty good at math in high school.

“It was not my favorite subject, but the one I enjoyed,” said the Vancouver Canucks general manager on Tuesday.

This could be useful if Benning wants to go through the complicated NHL lottery calculations.

The lottery could be run in several ways for seven non-playoff clubs and the eight that did not rank among the best of the five qualifying rounds to define the 16 teams in the Stanley Cup tournament. The first phase takes place on June 26, before the qualifying round.

“I could understand it – it’s pretty easy,” added Benning.

The first draw in the initial phase determines which club selects first. The second draw places the club in second place and the third will determine which team chooses the third. If a club which is not in the last seven duels wins one of the first three draws, a second phase of the draw will take place with the eight teams eliminated after the first qualifying round – and before the eliminations of 16 teams .

What Benning really wants is for the Canucks to take the next stage of development by beating the Minnesota Wild in the playoffs to advance to the playoffs for the first time in five years. Losing will lead the Canucks to the draw and push J.T. Miller’s first round conditional pick until 2021. This is not the plan.

“We are in a position to participate in this playoff and it is important for our youth to have this experience,” said Benning of the post-season progression based on percentage points. “It is our goal to be as efficient as possible.

“But it’s going to be different because the players have been away for so long. And those who can start early can succeed. “

A season paused on March 12 by the new coronavirus outbreak is also working for the Canucks on another crucial front.

With the postponement date extended to the end of the playoffs, Benning could benefit from an exchange to try to recover a second round choice in 2020 in the acquisition of Tyler Toffoli. A draft before the end of the season would not allow exchanges, as the lists were frozen after the deadline for exchanges.

In the world of Benning, this could be a win-win scenario.

Win and participate in the playoffs of 16 teams and collect a draft pick. There is an obvious level of comfort in both – especially if he can grab a choice – as a projected fixed salary cap of $ 81.5 million next season goes to the tax teams.

They may not be able to sign the best free agents again and may look for cheaper solutions.

“We will now see how it goes with the playoffs and we have time to make decisions,” said Benning. “This gives us time to come back to the match to pick up the draft picks and sign some of the UFA guys.

“We will have to see where the ceiling ends, but that (playing) will give us a better idea of ​​where we are. “

The easiest way to comply with the cap is to pay wages through a trade. Benning has an excess of wingers and it is generally the change to recover a second round choice. And you really learn the true value of a player with their performances or their performances in the post-season. It’s a bonus.

“We’re going to have to call to see what it involves and go from there,” added Benning. “It will depend on the performance of the players upon their return. Maybe we are able to withdraw a player because we have some depth to reacquire that second round choice.

“And if we don’t, we could still end up with a pretty good player in the third round. “

The Canucks haven’t left without a choice in the first two rounds since 2010.

They didn’t choose until the fourth round of the same year – having sold a first to Florida, a second to Columbus and a third to Carolina in previous deals – nor did they select well.

The Canucks missed nothing when the Panthers beat winger Quinton Howden (97 NHL games), the Blue Jackets picked winger Petr Straka (three NHL games) or when the Hurricanes grabbed the defender Austin Levi (zero NHL game).

However, the Canucks really rocked and missed with their four choices.

Scouts will tell you that three players from any draft, who play for you or another NHL club, have made a big draft. This means that 2010 was bad. The Canucks selected Patrick McNally in the fourth round, Adam Polasek in the fifth, Alex Friesen in the sixth and Sawyer Hannay in the seventh round.

They combined for an NHL game and it was Friesen in 2015-16.

Meanwhile, preparation for the 2020 project was different.

No combine project or final look at European prospects for the world championship under 18. This was replaced by video and Zoom meetings and calls with prospects.

Up to eight Canucks hockey operations personnel interview a prospect. It is a quieter and more hollow process, as it is the face-to-face interviews of the combine that usually reveal the most.

“Usually you get to know them better and understand what makes them tick and what is important to them,” said Benning. “This (Zoom) is a good substitute for not being able to do it on a combine. But I like it when you can sit with a child and you look him in the eye and he looks at you and you understand what he is talking about.

“It is more difficult during a Zoom call to get this back-and-forth interaction because they are not in the same room. It’s more professional, they are at home, so from a personal point of view, it’s a little more professional. “

OVERTIME – Vancouver remains central to the city’s concerns, as are Las Vegas, Edmonton, Columbus, Toronto, Dallas, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Los Angeles for two sites that will host 12-team conference playoffs. Las Vegas and Columbus could be favored because of the Canadian health edict that players returning from abroad must isolate themselves for an additional 14 days.

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