Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning. (Jimmy Jeong/The Canadian Press)

Canucks have to settle for acquiring players at NHL trade deadline

Vancouver gets forwards Tyler Motte, Jussi Jokinen from Columbus for veteran forward Thomas Vanek

Given a choice, Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning would’ve preferred to pick up some draft picks at the NHL trade deadline.

Instead, he had to settle for two young players and a 34-year-old veteran joining his ninth NHL team in Vancouver’s two deals Monday.

Vancouver acquired forwards Tyler Motte and Jussi Jokinen from the Columbus Blue Jackets for veteran forward Thomas Vanek. Earlier, the club sent defenceman Philip Holm to the Vegas Golden Knights for forward Brendan Leipsic.

Benning said the original plan was for the Canucks to stockpile draft picks.

“We pretty much talked to every team in the league,” said Benning, who recently signed a three-year contract extension. “We wanted picks back.

“They weren’t available to us. We had to do the next best thing. It’s just one of those things.”

READ MORE: Benning stands firm on Gudbranson, will keep him with Canucks until 2021

Motte, 22, has played 64 career NHL games and registered seven goals and five assists, since being picked in the fourth round, No. 121 overall, by Chicago in the 2013 draft. The five-foot-10, 191-pound American had three goals and two assists in 31 games with the Blue Jackets this year.

The Winnipeg-born Leipsic had two goals and 13 points in 44 games with the Golden Knights. The 23-year-old, who played his junior hockey with the Portland Winterhawks, was chosen in the third round, No. 89 overall, by the Nashville Predators in the 2012 draft. Prior to this year he spent most of his career in the AHL but did play six games for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2015-16 season, registering a goal and two assists.

Benning said both players fit into the Vancouver rebuild.

Heading into Monday night’s game in Colorado the Canucks are second-last in the Western Conference with a 24-37-7 record and are likely to miss the playoffs for the third consecutive year.

“Going forward, we want to be younger, faster,” said Benning. “We want to be harder to play against. I think both Brendan and Tyler they fit the mould of speed and skill and they are competitive guys.

“They are guys that aren’t maybe the biggest guys, but they are hard in the battle. They are going to add to our competitive group of young players that we have.”

Jokinen, 34, will join his fourth team this season having already played for Edmonton, Los Angeles and Columbus. In 937 NHL games that includes stops in Dallas, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Pittsburgh and Florida, the native of Kalajoki, Finland, has 187 goals and 366 assists.

“That’s part of the trade,” Benning said in explaining why Jokinen was included in the deal. “That’s a hockey trade.”

The Canucks signed Vanek as a free agent late this summer. In 61 games this year he had 17 goals and 24 assists.

The 33-year-old, who become an unrestricted free agent this summer, is used to moving. Since 2013-14 Vanek has played for seven teams. This is also the fourth time he as been traded in the last five seasons.

The Canucks signed Holm, 26, as an undrafted free agent in May. He had 11 goals and 29 points for the AHL Utica Comets. The native of Stockholm, Sweden, was called up last week but dressed for just one game, Friday’s loss in Vegas.

The Canucks originally touted Holms as a prospect, but Benning said acquiring defenceman Derrick Pouliot a week before the season started changed expectations.

Besides Vanek, the Canucks had little to offer at the deadline. There had been talk teams were interested in defenceman Chris Tanev, but he’s expected to be sidelined at least three more weeks with a broken bone in his leg.

“We had calls on lots of our players,” Benning said, “Those conversations are between me and the other general managers.

“I would say we didn’t get anywhere close on anything else.”

Players like Tanev, defenceman Alex Edler and forward Brenden Sutter will form the veteran core for Vancouver moving forward.

“These guys are going to help our young players, help them on the ice, help with leadership off the ice,” Benning said. “They are important players for us moving forward.”

Vancouver currently has six picks in this year’s draft.

“We are going to give some of these young players a good chance from now until the end of the year to play and see where they are at,” said Benning. “Maybe when we head into the draft there will be an opportunity to add more picks.”

Jim Morris, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Beer garden incorporated into Langley’s 25th annual Arts Alive

More entertainment, more vendors, more food, and a new beverage station added to Saturday’s festival.

For her murdered son, ‘Burnouts in the Sky’ returns to Cloverdale Saturday

Annual car show staged for the first time since Bradley McPherson’s killer was convicted

Cloverdale Market Days highlighting kids, entertainment this weekend

Saturday, Aug. 18 will mark the second-to-last market of the season

Fires breaking out near Langley athletic park

The fires may be linked to homeless activity, but hot weather is also a factor.

Imagination plays big in KidZone at Langley’s new RibFest

Langley Rotarians are counting down the days until this weekend and the first-ever charity RibFest.

A look at B.C. wildfire smoke from space

NASA provides a timelapse of smoke covering B.C. from space

Child dies in boating incident in Okanagan

A North Vancouver family was boating on Kalamalka Lake in Vernon when the incident occured

Aldergrove Dodgers bat Silver

Aldergrove PeeWee A 13U Dodgers earned silver at Provincials

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Province calls for federal aid

More fires have burned in B.C. already this year than did in all of 2017

Kayak in Indian Arm waters off B.C.’s Deep Cove and feast on famous doughnuts

About a half hour drive from Vancouver, Deep Cove is a great kayaking spot for locals and tourists

Child, 4, attacked by cougar near Fernie

The BC Conservation Officer Service said it happened while the family was fishing

Aldergrove seniors hall kitchen renovated

New cabinets and countertops installed with New Horizons grant funding

Trans Mountain pipeline protesters practise resisting police at Camp Cloud

Last week, a Supreme Court judge granted the City of Burnaby an injunction ordering protesters to remove everything from the site

Drug-checking started as pilot in four B.C. communities to test for fentanyl

Substance is mixed with water on test strip, and result is revealed in minutes

Most Read