“Speed and skill, remember, speed and skill.”
Those were the words of Canucks general manager Jim Benning, reminding his staff of their priorities at the draft.
Fans live for trades, rumours, and speculation. But getting a first-hand look at trade talk from the man himself? That’s rare.
Canucks TV was at the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago to capture all the wheeling and dealing by Benning and Canucks staff on the draft floor.
What did we learn?
Well, the Canucks came close to dealing the fifth overall draft pick.
With Vancouver interested in Elias Pettersson, who was ranked lower than some other available players, Benning went to work.
The Canucks GM was shown in the video speaking with Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee, who owned the sixth pick.
“Do you have any appetite to move up one spot?”
After being initially told “maybe” by McPhee, the Vegas GM returned with a potential offer to move up.
Vegas liked Portland Winterhawks centre Cody Glass. If they were unsure about who Vancouver was going to take, they would have incentive to make a deal.
The trade discussed would have resulted in Vegas picking fifth, Vancouver picking sixth, and the Canucks getting one of the Golden Knights’ many extra draft picks.
Of course, we know now that McPhee chose not to do the deal because he thought Glass would be available.
McPhee says he backed off a trade up to the Canucks spot at 5, because he thought his guy was going to be there..
— Blake Price (@BlakePriceTSN) June 24, 2017
“We’re not going to move, we’re just going to sit,” McPhee told Benning.
How did they know? Good question.
A draft day trade between the Arizona Coyotes and New York Rangers appeared to derail Benning’s ability to trade the fifth pick also. The Rangers acquired the seventh overall pick – two spots behind Vancouver – along with Anthony DeAngelo in exchange for Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta.
Meanwhile the Sabres, owners of the eighth pick, appeared willing to move up. But New York owning the pick right before Buffalo’s made Benning gun shy.
“Now that the Rangers popped in there, I don’t know, I’m scared to go all the way down to eighth,” Benning told Sabres GM Jason Botterill.
Benning referred to the Rangers as a “wild card,” presumably because he didn’t know if they wanted Pettersson. Because of that, the Canucks chose to hold on to their pick and drafted the Swedish centre.
The Canucks were eventually successful in making a deal to move down and acquire more picks, but in the later rounds. Vancouver traded the 112th pick (fourth round) to Chicago for their fifth and sixth round picks.
Watch the full video: