Canucks: Benning on Virtanen, Podkolzin, Green, Eriksson, more

Vancouver (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Vancouver (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Vancouver Canucks’ GM Jim Benning. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Vancouver Canucks’ GM Jim Benning. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Vancouver Canucks’ general manager Jim Benning was on Sportsnet 650 Thursday morning to discuss a variety of topics. Here’s what was said.

Vancouver Canucks general manager, Jim Benning joined The Starting Lineup with James Cybulski and Perry Solkowski to discuss the changes the Canucks made in the offseason, as well as other topics. Benning sounded optimistic regarding the current state of the team, prospects and leadership.

Benning on the offseason and leadership

Benning spoke about losing important players in Jacob Markstrom and Chris Tanev, as well as having new leaders step up. He also spoke about the acquisitions of Nate Schmidt and Braden Holtby.

"“We ended up ended up losing this summer with Jacob and Chris Tanev like they were big leaders in our room but you know, there’s going to be an opportunity for some other some other players to step up.  J.T. Miller, I think, you know, came in and gave us real good leadership last year. Bo Horvat, you know, is growing as a captain and in the playoffs. took his game to another level another step and it’s showing that, he’s ready to take more on, you know. We got Pearson and this is going to be a chance now for Nate Schmidt. Everything I hear about him and talking to players around the league, and agents and he was a big leader in the Las Vegas dressing room, so he’ll do some of that for us. Braden Holtby, he’s a leader, he won the Stanley Cup, you know, he’ll have to take some of that on for us but it’s going to be an opportunity for more of a leadership role for Petey and for Quinn Hughes. They both had real good seasons last year.”"

Benning also said that this is the circle of life in hockey and when you lose older players, others will take their leadership roles. It’s just how it goes sometimes.

Benning on Travis Green

The biggest thing on Travis Green’s Christmas list right now is a contract extension.  Unfortunately, Benning had no update on Green.

” He has done an excellent job with our young players and developing them,” said Benning. “He’s a good fit for our team in our organization and we’re going to continue to, you know, talk to Travis and, and try to work things out. He’s the guy that we want standing behind the bench and coaching our team. ”

More from The Canuck Way

Benning on Virtanen, Ferland and Eriksson

Benning was asked about the right-wing on the top-six, and particularly, Jake Virtanen. Benning didn’t hold back on his words for the Abbotsford native and expects more from him next season.

"“He’s got the physical skills to be a real good player in this league because he’s big and he’s fast, and he can take the puck to the net. I’ve always supported Jake. I’ve been one of his biggest supporters, and I’ve been patient with him, but at the end of the year, I kind of criticized him. That was some tough love because I want more from him. I expect more from him. I don’t want Jake to be satisfied that he scored 18 goals last year, he’s playing in the league, I want him to expect more out of himself and develop into that power forward, that leader, that we think that he’s capable of being. When I kind of went after him at the end of the year, it was like ‘Ok, you know, like we’ve been patient with you now, but now it’s time to take the next step. It’s on him now. He’s going to have to have a good offseason, he’s going to have to come in excellent shape here for us, and he’s going to have to show us that he’s ready to do the things that we think he’s capable of, or he’s going to get passed by, by some other guys.”"

With Tyler Toffoli leaving for Montreal in free agency, it looks like Virtanen will get some top-six minutes and Benning believes Virtanen can be a top-six forward.

The Canucks’ GM also spoke about Micheal Ferland, whose season was derailed by concussions. He doesn’t think Ferland is ready to play just yet.

“He is dealing with our doctors,” said Benning. “I don’t think if the season was to start right now, he wouldn’t be starting. But he’s continuing to work through the issues that he has. For right now, we’re just hoping that he feels better so he can continue on with his life, and then we’ll see where he gets to.”

Loui Eriksson hasn’t lived up to the price of a player who’s being paid $6 million per season and Benning really expected him to score more than he has. The Canucks had tried moving him but have had no luck. On the bright side, Benning likes Eriksson’s defensive play and penalty killing.