VANCOUVER – The best thing about a draft for the Vancouver Canucks in early June is that it would leave general manager Jim Benning a little window to try to save the organization’s relationship with amateur scout director Judd Brackett.
But months since Brackett refused a contract extension, holding him back after the June 30 expiration of his current contract looks like the Canucks as the human resources equivalent of a Hail Mary pass.
As Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet said on 650 radio stations in Vancouver on Tuesday: “Judd Brackett and the Vancouver Canucks are clearly not comfortable with each other. For whatever reason, the organization is not comfortable with him and he is not comfortable with them. I think everyone can see it at this point. “
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In many National Hockey League markets, the general fan base could not appoint the director of amateur scouting for their team. But in Vancouver, where the Canucks have been rebuilt by draft players since Brackett was promoted in 2015, the 43-year-old Cape Cod, Massachusetts player is about the organization’s third most popular figure , behind only the emerging stars. Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes.
OK, that’s not true. Goalkeeper Jacob Markstrom is probably more popular than Brackett too. But it’s close.
Brackett’s uncertain status recedes as the Canucks prepare for a likely online draft in June as the NHL strives to generate interest and content during the biggest mass hibernation of organized sport in our life.
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Since the NHL season, which was halted on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic, is not over, the Canucks are unable to remove players (and future payroll) from their lineup for replace the first and second round draft picks where Benning went. jobs for JT Miller and Tyler Toffoli.
Based on the current winning percentages, the Canucks are in the playoff position and must keep their players in case the season resumes – not that they are allowed to trade them anyway.
Benning said when he acquired Toffoli from the Los Angeles Kings on February 17, in exchange for prospect Tyler Madden and a second round of 2020, that he would try after the season – and before the draft – to replace this choice of repechage through an exchange.
Facing a potential pay cap crisis next season, Benning will likely have to lose his salary and at least a few current players, and a draft during the season removes a key point of commercial pressure.
“It’s not perfect, not like we usually do,” Benning told Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday. “But we’re going to be ready and ready when the draft comes out. This possibility of possibly exchanging players to retrieve choices will be closed for me. If they decide to do it early, we will just have to find out.
“It’s just the time we are living in right now. We will have to understand what things will look like, and it will not be perfect. Things are going to happen on which the league will make decisions and we just need to be prepared and ready for them. If they decide to do a first draft, I think we are ready. We work on it every day. “
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Brackett, of course, is at the center of this preparatory work.
The Canucks’ last three projects, which included Pettersson in Vancouver with the fifth pick in 2017 and Hughes as the seventh overall selection in 2018, are among the strongest in franchise history.
Obviously, everything Brackett has done has worked. This makes the fracture apparent in its relationship with the organization particularly disconcerting and maddening towards a large element of the fan base.
The issues have been reported to be self-reliant and if Brackett believes he has enough control over his department. Despite their recent good writing journey, the Canucks revised their amateur screening staff last summer, replacing four scouts with five new ones.
Sources confirmed to Sportsnet that the contract stalemate did not concern Brackett’s salary or job title.
“We made a contract offer to Judd Brackett and he turned it down,” said Benning. “Right now, we have a lot going on (to prepare the project). Whatever the date of the project, if it’s early June, we still have time to talk to Judd and figure it all out. “
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Benning declined to provide details on negotiations with Brackett, who was a part-time amateur scout when the general manager was hired by former hockey operations president Trevor Linden to replace Mike Gillis in 2014. With experience in the US Hockey League, Brackett was on scouting staff during Gillis ‘six seasons, which brought the Canucks’ best years on the ice and some of their worst at the draft table.
Benning’s management career was built on Scouting, which is why Linden hired him to help rebuild the Canucks. Benning’s power increased two summers ago when Linden was evicted due to conflicts with manager Francesco Aquilini.
Despite the likelihood of Brackett’s exit from the organization, Benning said he had complete confidence in his amateur screening director to lead the Canucks through the draft. The general manager said he was not worried at this point about losing Brackett.
“I’m not there yet,” said Benning. “We still have a long time to find a way to make it work for him. I know we have a lot of good scouts on our staff. I have never been so comfortable with the group of Scouts we have on our staff as I currently am. I feel that every year we get better and better. “
They would like it to stay that way.