The Vancouver Canucks are being upfront about their desire to add high-end offensive power this weekend.
In addition to taking a run at unrestricted free agent Milan Lucic, Benning told Vancouver’s TSN 1040 radio Thursday that he will make a pitch for Steven Stamkos and has called the Montreal Canadiens to inquire about a trade for No. 1 defenceman P.K. Subban.
A Subban-to-Canucks trade is “nowhere near close,” Benning admitted on-air, citing Montreal’s steep asking price for its Norris Trophy–winning defenceman. P.K.’s youngest brother, Jordan, is a Canucks defence prospect.
“It’s a long way from completing a deal like that,” Benning said. “There’s lots of teams that have reached out to them to find out what it would take to try to complete a deal of that magnitude.
“It’s a high price.”
Benning said there are “a lot of moving pieces” to a potential Subban trade, one of them being which prospect is available when Vancouver picks at No. 5 during Friday’s draft.
Stamkos is free to interview with competing NHL teams Saturday. The coveted sniper is still under contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning until July 1.
“He’s going to have lots of interest from lots of teams throughout the league. There will be teams that have more money to spend than we do, but we’re going to talk to him and see where it goes,” Benning said.
Benning said he would call Stamkos’s agent, Don Meehan, on Saturday, as well as the elite UFA wingers, including Vancouver native Lucic.
“If we could add one or two scoring wingers, that’s what we’re looking to do,” Benning said. “[Lucic] would provide us a skill set we don’t have in our top six, and I think he’d be a good fit for our group.”
Stamkos has maintained that his desire is to remain in Tampa, but according to Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, as of Monday negotiations had not advanced.
“We’re doing all we can to sign him,” Yzerman said. “If he wants to go to July 1, he has that right.”
Benning also said he spoke with four or five teams Thursday trying to acquire another draft pick, but the price to move up into the top three doesn’t make sense for his club.
“I think we’re sitting in a perfect hole,” Benning said. “I’m excited for our fan base because I really feel at 5 we’re going to get a player who’s an important piece to the puzzle for the next 10 or 12 years.”