Jim Benning visiting with TSN 1040’s Matt Sekeres and Blake Price, who are in Chicago for the Draft:
–On losing Luca Sbisa in the expansion draft, he knew/expected that they might lose him, he played well last season, was physical, they’re gaining cap room but it’s till a loss for the team. It’s an opportunity to change the look of the defence and the team.
–Still happy with his defence, Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, Ben Hutton, Troy Stetcher, Erik Gudbranson as the core, and youngsters Phillip Holm, Andrey Pedan, Olli Juolevi who’ll have a chance to win a job at camp, plus now extra cap room to make moves.
–There’s a chance Phillip Holm and/or Oli Juolevi make the team in camp, Holm has good size, plays physical, he’s good defensively, and is more of a two-way than an offensive d-man. Olli had good camp last year, played well in an exhibition game. He’s a smart player, if he gets stronger he can break in sooner than expected of a young defenceman.
–He’s still not sure about which players will go 1-4 in the draft, whoever is available at fifth “we’ll be happy with”, there are a few players they have their eye on.
–They’re not going to look to move up, don’t want to give up a pick or young player/prospect to do that, but they may look to move down a spot or two depending how it goes.
–Picks get more valuable the closer you get to the draft, price goes up not down as you get closer. May try to move back into the mid or late first round depending on what players are still available.
–To move Chris Tanev, they need to get a dman back, so there’s not much chance of that happening. He’d help with Olli Juolevi and Ben Hutton breaking into NHL. “We’re not looking to move him.”
–About Erik Gudbransson going back to Florida now that Dale Tallon is back in charge there? Having lost Luca Sbisa and Nikita Tryamkin, they really need his physical side. Not concerned with ‘new’ NHL, where supposedly big tough defensive defencemen have fallen out of favour, Erik has a role to play, maybe the young kids who are mobile might fit with him. He played a lot with Brian Campbell in Florida, played well, maybe we need to find him a partner like that. He will kill penalties a lot, will be a big part of his job.
–On Cale Makar, it doesn’t matter what league you play in, if the foundation of your game is strong, if your skating, passing, and vision are good. He’s a good player, he’ll have a good year in college next year. Fair point to make about the quality of competition he faced in the AJHL, and how loaded his team was, but he’s so smart, he’ll be good anywhere.
–About giant defencemen, who were much in demand when he won the Cup in 2011 and the ‘Boston Model’ was in vogue: the last couple of years the game has gotten so fast, you need mobile defencemen, who can skate the puck out of trouble or make a good first pass, who can close the gap. 6’7″ guys can still play if they can skate. Nikita Tryamkin for example could skate pretty well.
Losing him is tough, after having moved up in the third round to pick him, and it’s hard to sign those guys. Worked really hard with him early in season to get in shape for the NHL. It’s hard to find guys that big who can skate.
–The AHL coaching situation not an issue, they’ve been busy with other things, “we’ll take our time to make sure we hire the right guy for our team in Utica.”