3: Drafting Quinn Hughes
Ever since Christian Ehrhoff left the Canucks to chase a Stanley Cup with the Buffalo Sabres, this team has been crying out for a top four defenceman capable of moving the puck, quarterbacking the power play, and maybe even carrying the puck up the ice a la Scott Niedermayer.
While Benning made the valiant attempt to acquire said puck-moving defenceman via trade, the acquisition of Derrick Pouliot never really paid off, and the Canucks have now decided to move on from his services.
A huge reason for that decision is that the Canucks now have an elite puck-moving defenceman. Quinn Hughes was selected seventh overall at the 2018 draft by Benning and his scouting team, and fans everywhere rejoiced at the good fortune.
Hughes should never have fallen that low (blame Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka for going off-grid and selecting Barrett Hayton at No.5), and Benning somehow managed to pick up a player who is the envy of every team in the league.
When Canucks fans are asked to name their all-time favorite defencemen, there are several names that come up. Jyrki Lumme. Mattias Ohlund. Dennis Kearns. Ed Jovanovski. Doug Lidster. Sami Salo. Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis, known together as Juicy Hammer. Alex Edler too.
It won’t be long before Quinn Hughes’ name is added to that list.
Amongst that list you can see traits like scoring, puck-moving, determination, heart, skill, dedication and loyalty. The young man from Orlando, Florida ticks all those boxes, and despite having played in just five NHL games, there’s no doubt that he’s one of the most exciting defencemen to have ever played for the Canucks.
He has a huge future ahead of him, and we should be grateful that Benning didn’t go full-Chayka and select someone else. Hughes will be the offensive leader on the Canucks’ blueline next season.