Jim Benning is doing his research, but whether that results in the addition of young, high-grade scoring talent to the Vancouver Canucks remains to be seen.
The Canucks general manager has called Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen to inquire about a trade for Vancouver-born Ryan Johansen. He also rang up the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s Steve Yzerman to kick tires on a trade for the disgruntled Jonathan Drouin, who requested a deal away from the Lightning in November.
“The prices for both players are really high. From our perspective, maybe we don’t have the prospect depth at certain positions that they’re looking to fill to make those types of trades,” Benning told Vancouver’s TSN 1040 on Tuesday (via Today’s Slapshot).
The NHL’s trade deadline is Feb. 29, but with so many teams either still in the hunt for a playoff spot (especially in the Pacific Division, where the Canucks reside) or restricted by the salary-cap ceiling, deals have been scarce this season.
“There’s not a lot going on in the whole league right now. I’ve never really seen a year like this. But there’s lot of teams that are tight against the cap. When teams call, they want our young players," Benning explained.
"We’re in a transition period here. We’re keeping our young players and we want to develop them into the next core group of our team.”
Vancouver awoke Tuesday in fifth place in the weak Pacific, yet they're just a single point away from a post-season seed. The Canucks' 15 wins is tied for the lowest tally in the whole league, and a common belief is they would be better off long-term fading from contention and trying their luck in a draft lottery that promises riches in the top three spots, starting with stud centreman Auston Matthews.
So, is Benning tempted to enter Tank Mode?
"That’s just not an option for us. We’re going to go out and compete hard every night and try to win games. I’m confident in the job that we’re going to do scouting that wherever we pick, we’re going to get a good player in the first round,” the GM said.
“I understand the thinking in that, but we have too much pride in this organization. I know how bad our fans want to win."