Vancouver Canucks: Here’s how Jim Benning can acquire more picks

SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 26: Jim Benning of the Vancouver Canucks attends the 2015 NHL Draft at BB
SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 26: Jim Benning of the Vancouver Canucks attends the 2015 NHL Draft at BB /

The Vancouver Canucks only have six draft selections heading into the 2018 NHL draft, but here’s a creative way for general manager Jim Benning to acquire more.

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning was heavily criticized for failing to acquire more draft selections at the trade deadline, a year after he was able to acquire picks and talented prospects in Nikolay Goldobin and Jonathan Dahlen.

Benning could only turn Thomas Vanek into Jussi Jokinen and Tyler Motte, though he deserves credit for turning Philip Holm into Brendan Leipsic. But in what’s widely regarded as one of the top draft classes in recent memory, the rebuilding Canucks cannot have six draft picks. They simply need more.

So how can he acquire more picks? Obviously, he can trade away roster players, with Ben Hutton and Chris Tanev being thrown around in trade speculation. There’s the whole option of trading down too, but it’s unlikely Benning goes that route.

That means Benning may have to get creative. Here is a unique and rather harmless way he can take more draft picks.

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Remember when Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee landed large quantities of prospects and draft picks from teams in exchange for picking certain players? Or for simply not taking players that other teams wanted to keep?

Benning can try something similar, but slightly different. How about the idea of making Vancouver a place that takes on bad contracts?

That is, how about helping out cap-strapped teams by taking back their toxic deals while acquiring picks in return?

Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province looked at the idea of Vancouver absorbing the final year of Jason Spezza‘s deal to help out the Dallas Stars.

Kuzma speculated that the Stars could take on $3 of the remaining $7.5 million pick. He even wondered if the Canucks could demand a draft selection or even a prospect to seal a deal.

This is the type of route the Canucks need to go down. With the Sedins retired, they have $14 million opening up in cap space. Brock Boeser is the one core player that needs a long-term contract soon. Other than that, Benning will have plenty of cap space for at least two more years.

Now, Benning would only be able to acquire “toxic” contracts with shorter terms remaining, one to two years probably. I’m merely speculating here, but taking on Dmitry Kulikov (two more years at a $4.33 million cap hit), could help the Winnipeg Jets, who need to lock up Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor long-term.

Maybe taking on Braydon Coburn‘s final year ($3.7 million), is an option. The Tampa Bay Lightning are right up against the cap, and GM Steve Yzerman is one for bold trades. What if he throws in a third or fourth rounder if Vancouver takes Coburn?

It doesn’t have to be any of these players, but this is a route Benning should explore. Find some contracts with one or two-year terms left that teams are desperate to get rid of. Be the dumping site for these deals, then get some mid-round picks in exchange.

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Benning won’t be dealing away key prospects or roster players to land more picks. But if he can lend a helping hand to cap-strapped teams, he could be rewarded with more much-needed draft picks. It’s a win-win, if he decides to go down this path.

*Stats courtesy of Hockey Reference and contract details via CapFriendly*