The Vancouver Canucks could go either way with the No. 10 pick, but does it make sense for general manager Jim Benning to take a blueliner?
There’s no denying that defence has been the Vancouver Canucks‘ biggest weakness over the last five years, but general manager Jim Benning has the chance to address that with the No. 10 pick in next month’s entry draft.
Unfortunately for the Canucks, Vancouver Giants blueliner Bowen Byram is most certainly not going to be there when it’s their turn to pick. Unless Benning wants to pay a ridiculous price to move up, he’s not getting Byram.
With the exception of Byram, it’s not crazy to believe that the other top 10 picks will all be forwards. Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko will round out the top two, then you have the likes of Kirby Dach, Alex Turcotte, Matthew Boldy, Dylan Cozens and Trevor Zegras that will likely fall in the top 10.
If Benning prioritizes offence, he can easily find a quality forward to play with Elias Pettersson or Bo Horvat. Other possible options that weren’t mentioned above include Raphael Lavoie, Vasili Podkolzin, Peyton Krebbs and Cole Caufield.
More from The Canuck Way
- Which team won the Bo Horvat trade?
- What to expect from newcomers Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty
- Back to the future: How the skate uniforms became a regular Canucks’ feature night
- Canucks kick off 2023 with disappointing 6-2 loss to Islanders
- 2nd period penalty trouble sinks Canucks in 4-2 loss against Winnipeg
This year’s draft is heavy on forwards, but should Benning avoid taking the best player and simply go for the No. 1 organizational need by taking a blueliner with the No. 10 pick?
Benning is entering the final year of his contract, per Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province. He likely has to make the playoffs in 2010 to earn a new deal from the Aquilini family. Missing out for the fifth time in six years is unlikely to be deemed acceptable by ownership.
That’s why it’s tricky to predict if Benning will take a defenceman. He has to build for the long-term future, but he also has to find a player that can contribute in 2019-20.
Most defencemen take several years to develop, and outside of Byram, it’s hard to find a prospect that looks ready to make the jump next year.
Swedish defenceman Phillip Broberg is going to need time to pack on more muscle before he turns pro, like Pettersson did after the Canucks took him in 2017. The same thing applies to both Mississauga Steelheads blueliner Thomas Harley — listed at 187 pounds — and slick Swede Victor Soderstrom (179 pounds).
Either blueliner could be a great defensive partner for Quinn Hughes someday, but maybe Benning doesn’t want to wait for somebody to take two to four years for them to develop. It’s been three years since he took Olli Juolevi in the first round, and the man hasn’t played a second in the NHL.
The short yet complicated answer is that Benning is better off taking a blueliner. He could lose pending UFA Alexander Edler in free agency this summer, and Hughes is the only Vancouver defenceman that has a long-term future here. And again, adding somebody like Broberg with Hughes could be a franchise-changing move.
But Benning is likely fighting for his job, so he might decide to play it safe and just take the best and most NHL-ready player — which would likely be a forward. Perhaps he will go that route and then look to address the defence in the trade and free agent markets. It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out for the Canucks over the next couple of months.