Offensive D-men a priority

HOSEA CHEUNG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

Mike Gillis should be more confident this time around.

Heading into his second NHL entry draft as the Canucks general manager, Gillis has had more time to analyze his team's needs.

Last offseason, he was hired only two months prior to the draft, but Gillis did well - selecting Cody Hodgson at the 10th spot.

This year though, he'll have to work his magic with the 22nd overall pick, along with five other picks in later rounds.

The number one priority for this team should be an offensive defenceman, a void waiting to be filled in Vancouver's mediocre system.

The future bright lights on the Canucks' blueline includes two defensive defencemen - 2008's second rounder Yann Sauve and 2007's Taylor Ellington - along with recently signed Evan Oberg.

But there can only be so many Willie Mitchell-types.

Fortunately, this year's draft is deep with blueliners, including about 11 that might be chosen in the first round (view sidebar).

It's definitely an opportunity that Gillis should take full advantage of early.

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Offensive D-men ranked near Vancouver's pick:

RYAN ELLIS - Considered to be the ultimate powerplay QB, the Memorial Cup and World Junior Gold-winning D-man would be a gift at the 22nd spot. Style like: Scott Niedermayer.

STEFAN ELLIOTT - Known for offence rather than defence, Elliott can put up points but needs to be more physical. Style like: Brian Rafalski.

CALVIN DE HAAN - Poise and puck-moving ability is the biggest upside to De Haan's game but size is his downside. Style like: Tomas Kaberle

DAVID RUNDBLAD - Dubbed to be more offensive then Victor Hedman but a weaker skater, Rundblad is among a long list of talented Swedes. Style like: Mike Green.


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