Vancouver Canucks: Jim Benning needs another first-round pick

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 28: Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning speaks to the media after a game between against the Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings. Benning was discussing the recent trades of Vancouver Canucks Left Wing Alexandre Burrows (14) and Vancouver Canucks Right Wing Jannik Hansen (36). February 28, 2017, at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC. (Photo by Bob Frid/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 28: Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning speaks to the media after a game between against the Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings. Benning was discussing the recent trades of Vancouver Canucks Left Wing Alexandre Burrows (14) and Vancouver Canucks Right Wing Jannik Hansen (36). February 28, 2017, at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC. (Photo by Bob Frid/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning owns the seventh selection in the 2018 NHL Draft, but he needs to work his magic and try to land another first-round pick.

The Vancouver Canucks were victims of bad draft lottery luck for the third consecutive year, but general manager Jim Benning is line to find a top-pairing blueliner with the seventh overall selection.

Noah Dobson, Quinn Hughes, Evan Bouchard and Adam Boqvist all seem like the likely options for Benning. Rasmus Dahlin will certainly be taken by the Buffalo Sabres first, while Andrei Svechnikov, Brady Tkachuk and Filip Zadina seem like locks to be gone within the top-five.

And while Benning has to be content that he’ll be picking in the top-seven to (hopefully), get one of the big-named blueliners, he shouldn’t stop there. He has to try to get crafty and see if there will be a way to secure another first-round pick.

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Think back to the 2011 draft, when Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke originally had no selections in the first round.

He gave away his 2010 and 2011 first-rounders to the Boston Bruins in the Phil Kessel trade. Those picks became Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton, but Burke wouldn’t quit.

But Burke traded Kris Versteeg to the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2011 trade deadline and secured their first-round selection.

Burke drafted Stuart Percy, but he didn’t stop there. He also made a deal with the Anaheim Ducks to trade up and select Tyler Biggs 22nd overall.

Now, Percy and Biggs never blossomed into stars. But Burke worked extensively to get two first-rounders, and that’s something Benning must do in Dallas on draft day.

Luckily for Benning, there are a handful of trade candidates here. Chris Tanev is obviously their top trade target, but veteran blueliner Alexander Edler also looks like a good choice. You have to think a handful of playoff teams would willingly sacrifice their firsts to get Tanev or Edler.

Look at teams who had ugly first round playoff exits. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild look like teams who could use another top-four blueliner. All of them will pick late in the first round, so Benning should see if he can get a first and more for either guy.

Many have pointed to Toronto as an ideal destination for Tanev. All they’re missing is a legitimate shutdown defenceman, and he’s that guy they need. With so many young core players to build around, the Maple Leafs can afford to part with their first.

The New York Islanders own the 11th and 12th selection. May they trade one of those for Tanev and maybe another Canucks prospect or pick? It’s certainly something general manager Garth Snow should consider, especially if he thinks John Tavares is leaving. Adding an impact player in Tanev can offset some of the damage.

There are also eight teams that remain in contention for the Stanley Cup. Most of them could look at a player like Tanev or Edler, looking to bolster their 2019 championship hopes. And if either of them offer Benning firsts for any of his veteran blueliners, he needs to make the deal happen.

Next: Vancouver Canucks final top prospect report

It’s a deep draft loaded with talent all over the ice, and rebuilding teams like the Canucks need to stockpile on picks. Imagine Benning leaving the first day of the draft with two more young blueliners. Now that’s what a rebuilding team should be doing.