The Vancouver Canucks have embarked on a long Eastern road trip. They play seven games on this trip, including six against the Eastern conference before wrapping the trip up in Winnipeg.
Canucks general manager Jim Benning sees this as the perfect opportunity to scout. He will see many games during this trip, perhaps more than the number the Canucks will play.
Benning’s trip started on Thursday in Buffalo, as he took in the Sabres game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. After taking in Canucks practice Friday, he jumped in a rental car, and headed three hours east to watch the Utica Comets play the Toronto Marlies.
On Saturday, the Canucks were edged by the Sabres 3-2. As soon as it was over, Benning hopped on I-90 west and made his way to Erie to watch the Otters host the Windsor Spitfires. Canucks prospect Kyle Pettit is on the Otters roster.
Benning was kind enough to spend a couple of minutes with the Hockey Writers on Saturday night prior to the Spitfires/Otters game. We started out by talking about just how important these trips are for him and the team.
“I think it’s good that I get to spend time with the area scouts coming to the game, talking hockey, talking about the players from the league.”, Benning told me. “You pick up a lot of knowledge along the way. I’ll get to see the players play tonight, so it should be good.”
Is there anything in particular that Benning is looking for while making these trips?
“We got some days here in between games where we’re not going to be playing. This next week and a half, two weeks will be good to see the good, young talent in this year’s draft, so I’m looking forward to it. The OHL is supposed to have a good year this year for draft picks so I’m excited to see those players.”
Benning On Canucks Prospects
We asked Benning to give us his scouting report on Otters center Kyle Pettit. Pettit got to spend time in Canucks camp. We asked Benning to assess his game and give us his thoughts on what he’s seen out of Pettit.
“He’s a big boy, and he’s a good two-way player. He does a lot of the little things in the game to help your team win. He had a good camp for us. He needs to continue to work and improve on his physical game and strength. When that comes, he’ll play with more determination. He had a good camp, so I’m looking forward to seeing him tonight and seeing where he is at.”
The last thing we discussed with Benning was if he feels the Canucks are where they need to be at with the state of their prospects and organizational depth.
“We’re starting to get depth now, with Jared (McCann) and Jake (Virtanen) and Ben Hutton, I was in Utica last night. We have Hunter Shinkaruk, Brendan Gaunce, and Alex Grenier. I think we are getting to that point where we are starting to build up our prospect pool and so we want to continue to do that going forward.”
Benning is making the most of his time by scouting both his current prospects and potential future ones. We thank him for taking a couple of minutes to share his thoughts with us.