It hasn’t taken long for newly minted general manager Jim Benning to make his mark on the Vancouver Canucks. Since joining Vancouver, Benning’s made his first hire, snagging Willie Desjardins for the Canucks coaching vacancy. Following that, Benning dealt arguably the Canucks best forward in Ryan Kesler to the Anaheim Ducks.
And that was just the beginning. Interspersed in all the craziness leading up to the draft was the Canucks trading Jason Garrison to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a second-round pick, which was later turned into Linden Vey.
The Canucks also acquired agitating right winger, Derek Dorsett, for a third round pick.
By the time all this was done, the draft hadn’t even started. Talk about making your mark.
After overhauling a huge chunk of Vancouver’s roster, Benning had the draft to take care of. Benning had eight picks with which to work, and work with them he did. Now that you’re all caught up on the most recent episode of roster crazies in Vancouver, lets take a look at Benning’s first draft with the Canucks.
An Infusion of Youth
Much of the buzz in town leading up to the draft on Friday centered on the fact that most Canucks fans couldn’t remember the last time they had a draft pick as high as their 6th overall selection this year. The draft related excitement reachedit’s peak when the Canucks acquired the 24th overall selection from the Anaheim Ducks in the Kesler trade, giving them a second first-round selection.
Jake Virtanen picked up at #6 overall by the Canucks in the 2014 NHL entry draft.
Meet Jake Virtanen
The Canucks started the night off by using the 6th overall pick on local boy, Jake Virtanen. Virtanen has high upside as a pure sniper, and this was shown in his 45-goals during last season with the Calgary Hitmen.
The red-flags surrounding Virtanen are the fact that he played on a line with two over-age players and was largely out-produced by other options at sixth overall… and beyond.
Meet Jared McCann
Following the selection of Virtanen, the Canucks had an eighteen selection lull with which to muse on their second first-round pick. When the time came, they selected Jared McCann, of the Saulte Ste. Marie Greyhounds. McCann is lauded for his defensive play and is coming off a season in which he netted 44-points in 66-games.
Meet Thatcher Demko
The Canucks next pick (their last of any consequence, arguably) was spent in the second-round on Boston College goaltender, Thatcher Demko. Where have I heard this before?
Demko was the highest ranked goaltender in the draft, but taking a goalie in the first three-rounds almost always proves to be a crap-shoot.
Will be interesting to see how Demko pans out. From the perspective of organizational need, however, this was a prudent selection.
Beyond the Canucks first two-rounds, there is almost zero offensive upside among the remaining picks to speak of.
In the third-round, the Canucks selected massive Russian defenceman, Nikita Tryamkin. Tryamkin currently plays for Yekaterinburg in the KHL and fashions his game as a reliable stay-at-home defenseman.
There are two years remaining on his KHL contract.
After Tryamkin, the Canucks selected Gustav Forsling, Kyle Pettit and Mackenzie Stewart.
All in all the Canucks had a relatively good draft. Their first-round selections leave a little to desired, but the prospect cupboard is undoubtedly richer than it was before the draft.
I only wish the Canucks opted for offensive upside rather than size in the latter parts of the draft, but c’est la vie.