BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The NHL is reviewing whether to penalize the Vancouver Canucks for tampering after general manager Jim Benning expressed interest in acquiring players under contract, including Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos.
“I have received a number of concerns and not solely from the teams involved,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters during the second day of the NHL draft on Saturday.
“What I’ll say is I have a discussion both with Jim and (Canucks president) Trevor Linden. They understand where we are in this situation and have talked about announcing something early next week with respect to what we intend to do about it.”
The Canucks confirmed that they have been contacted by the NHL regarding Benning’s statements.
Daly said the severity of punishment will be based on how “damaging” the comments might have been. The potential discipline would range from a fine or Vancouver losing a draft pick.
Benning told a Vancouver radio station Thursday that he intends to contact Stamkos’ agent about the pending free agent’s interest in Vancouver.
NHL rules bar teams from discussing their interest in players who are under contract. The one exception is during a window of opportunity that opened on Saturday, when all teams are allowed to contact pending free agents, but not allowed to sign them until July 1.
Benning spoke two days before that window opened.
Benning might have crossed the line further during the interview when he revealed the Canucks have contacted Montreal about acquiring star defenseman P.K. Subban, who is signed through the 2021-22 season.
“The price would be really high to acquire a player like that,” Benning said. “We’ve done our due diligence, like we do with all the players who are out there. But it’s a long way from completing a trade like that.”