Benning on 2016 draft: ‘I don’t know if there’s a true No. 1 defenseman’

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Since entering the league in 1970, the Vancouver Canucks have never had a true No. 1 defenseman.

That’s not to say they haven’t had some decent defensemen, because they have.

But they’ve never had one who could win the Norris Trophy or play 30 minutes a night in the playoffs, a la Duncan Keith or Drew Doughty.

And according to GM Jim Benning, even if the Canucks use their fifth overall pick to draft the best defenseman in this year’s draft — say, somebody like Olli Juolevi, Jakob Chychrun, or Mikhail Sergachev — they may still not have a true No. 1.

“I don’t know if there’s a true No. 1 defenseman (in the draft),” Benning told TSN 1040 radio. “If you look through the league right now, there’s maybe eight or ten No. 1 defensemen in the whole league.”

And so the Canucks may choose a winger like Matthew Tkachuk or, perhaps more likely, a center like Logan Brown. If Pierre-Luc Dubois doesn’t get picked at No. 4, he’d certainly be an option, too.

“If we felt there was a true No. 1 defenseman….then that’s where our focus would be,” said Benning. “But having said that, with Henrik Sedin getting older now, we have to look to the future, too.”

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