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Benning says Canucks' priorities remain the future of Edler's expansion

VANCOUVER – Shop Toronto Maple Leafs for Jake Muzzin can set up the market for the defense before the trade of the National Hockey League, but nothing changes for Vancouver Canucks and approaching unrestricted free agent Alex Edler.

Canning Manager General Jim Benning, in an interview with Sportsnet, reiterated that the extension of the contract renewal contract for Edler remains a priority, and that there is sufficient confidence in the relationship between the team player that the agreement may not be completed before the deadline of February 25.

Benning also said he would not negotiate any 2019 picks before the end of the term and that if the surprising Canucks remain in the play-off at the Western Conference, it is up to the existing players to continue the fight.

Veteran Wing Antoine Roussel said last week that he hoped Canucks would play well enough to be a "buyer", perhaps by adding a depth of defense or other forward that he could score to support a team playoff.

"Antoine is an emotional player and a competitive guy," Benning said on Wednesday. "It's like Alexandre Burrows for us, it's our emotional leader, he wants our team and our organization to be successful, when I say it, I'll do ice hockey deals, if there's a deal, players for the players and we can improve the team, to something like that.

"But we have a plan and do not dare to make this better so it's about the guys in the room who will be dragging and running, and that's what dictates whether we're a playoff team or not."

The Canucks have not been playing the playoffs since 2015 and have won the playoffs since they lost the Stanley Cup final in 2011.

Benning has said he will meet Edler and agent Mark Stow this week to begin a discussion of the 32-year-old defending who spent a 13-year-old NHL career in Vancouver and has clearly stated his desire to stay. The Swedish expiration of a $ 30 million six-year contract includes a full non-trade clause, so Canucks will need Edler's approval to trade it.

Benning agreed that the acquisition of Muzzin in Maple Leafs from Los Angeles Kings on Monday in exchange for the draft of the first round and several prospects of the second stage, one unsigned, creates a market for veterans of defense who could be traded in the next 3 ½ weeks .

But he said, Muzzin, a 29-year-old man who has the contract for the remainder of the year, the Stanley Cup ring and was good enough to be able to build Team Canada's World Cup in 2016, may be at the "top of the market." And even when Benning remarked, it is not guaranteed that the proposal for the end of the first round will turn into an NHL player.

"The numbers speak for themselves if you go through the history of the design," he said. "If you look at the top five tips, they have the chance to become players that have an impact, but if you look at the first five in the first round, some of them do not even play.

"But I think the teams, even the top teams that are trying to win the Stanley Cup, are now more reluctant to give up their runs, maybe two years ago, but it's still too early for this trading date and maybe I'm wrong."

With Edler not on the market, Vancouver defenseman Chris Tanev for another year from a potential unlimited free agency and upcoming UFA Anders Nilsson and Michael Del Zotto have already traded (to Ottawa and Anaheim) for late selections, 2019 could be another business term for Benning than the last couple of years.

GM was probably never more popular on the West Coast than in 2017 when the Canucks used Jannik Hansen (San Jose) and Burrows (Ottawa) for prospects Nikolay Goldobin a Jonathan Dahlen. And he was never more disgusting than last year's deadline, when his failure to pick a selection to lease was passed by Thomas Vanek outraged by many fans and some in the media.

Winger Tyler Motte, Chicago Blackhawk's prospect Benning settled, was the fourth-line regular for Canuck coach Travis Green throughout the season.

"Our team is now healthy and the break (planned) was right for us," Benning said. "When we talked to some of our players, our band was tired, but now we've had this break, and we have up to four weeks to come and see where we are, and we'll be deciding on our long-term plan."

Canucks returns to practice on Thursday afternoon and Saturday in Denver ends nine-day release. In the West Conference, there are a total of eight teams divided by six points, which have a total of three playoff points: the third place in the central division and two substitute points.

The whole race is a little misleading because the .500 hockey will get you into the mosh pit but it will not get you into the playoffs as soon as the Stanley Cup tournament races during the last two months of the regular season.

But at 23-22-6 and the worst of their schedule – and the injury, I hope – behind them, Canucks better off than anyone expected this season, led a remarkable newcomer Elias Pettersson.

Competitiveness and Culture Green is trying to build around Pettersson, Bo Horvat a Brock Boeser, is also why Benning can not afford to take his team back in time by trading with pieces from his futures list.

"That was our goal when we spoke in the summer … to have a team that plays meaningful games in February," Benning said. "As Petey came here, the way he played gave everyone the confidence and the elevator we had, you know, a player who can be with Brock and Bo for us." Core parts begin to fall into place.

What does it mean?

"I think we're saying we're on the right track."

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