If Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning was looking for some final answers on his draft board at the NHL Scouting Combine, he found them. Benning tells The Province’s Ben Kuzma that he will stand pat with his first-round pick as the NHL Entry Draft approaches, neither trading the pick away nor moving up or down the draft order:
Coming out of the combine, I felt even better and excited about the player we’re going to get at No. 10. The kids were excellent in the interviews because they can get into a room with adults and sell themselves on what they can do and what they can get better at. I’m super excited about the pick.
Heading into the NHL Draft Lottery in April, there was hope that the Canucks would finally have some luck with the ping pong balls. There was particular excitement over the possibility that Vancouver could land the No. 1 pick and pair Jack Hughes with brother Quinn Hughes. However, the team again missed out on a top pick, sliding back to the No. 10 slot. This prompted some speculation that perhaps Benning and company would look to move the pick, either in a trade for an established player or as part of a package to move up to try and add a difference-maker earlier in the first round.
As it turns out, Benning feels he doesn’t need to move the pick to land that “exciting” player. At No. 10, the Canucks will certainly miss out on the likes of Hughes, Kaapo Kakko, and Bowen Byram and will likely be unable to grab a player like Alex Turcotte, Dylan Cozens, Kirby Dach, and Cole Caufield. However, in such a deep draft class, that still leaves a number of really promising players with a chance to fall into Vancouver’s lap. USNTDP standout forwards Trevor Zegras and Matthew Boldy, WHL product Peyton Krebs, and Swedish blue liner Philip Broberg should all be available, among others with top-ten talent.
One player who is unlikely to be a target of the Canucks? Russian forward Vasili Podkolzin. Not only was Podkolzin not in attendance at the combine, thus unable to sway Benning’s opinion, but Vancouver is also looking to take a step forward sooner rather than later and the dynamic winger is at least two years out contractually from making his presence felt in the NHL. Fortunately, the team will have plenty of other options at that spot and the GM is content to stay put and take what he can get.