Vancouver Bolsters the D

The NHL entry draft didn’t offer that many surprises or moves, but it did remain a showcase of where certain teams were planning on taking their teams in the upcoming season. And for the Vancouver Canucks, defence was the order of the day.

After snagging veteran defenceman Keith Ballard on Friday, the Canucks continued on their merry way by picking defencemen with three out of their five remaining picks. They picked Patrick McNally in the fourth round, Adam Polasek in the fifth round, and Sawyer Hanney in the seventh round.

The focus for the Canucks was long-term and the stockpiling of defencemen plays into the team’s vision well. Vancouver GM Mike Gillis was adamant in taking a unique angle to the selection process this year. “We had done very, very well the last couple of years with our selections, I think,” he said. “So we have a little room to try to approach the draft a little differently this year.”

McNally led Milton Academy in Massachusetts in scoring last season. He’s locked up with Havard for the upcoming season or two, so he won’t be lacing the skates in the 2010-2011 NHL season. At 6’2 and 180 pounds, he’s an offensive-minded blueliner who could wind up as a key powerplay quarterback some day in Vancouver.

“With Chris Tanev, Kevin Connauton and now McNally, we’ve got three (defencemen) who are offensive guys in development,” Gillis said. “We’ll see which ones emerge.”

A lot of Canucks fans are still buzzing about giving up Michael Grabner to get Ballard on Friday. It may have actually come down to a matter of space and timing, however, and Ballard is a pretty decent upgrade for the club on the back end. Grabner, while popular, was still a player who needed to develop smoother edges. And Steve Bernier, who also went in the trade with the Florida Panthers, filled a role that many other Canucks can step into.

As mentioned, the vision of Mike Gillis is clear for this team. In acquiring key defenders with puck-moving abilities, it’s clear where Vancouver’s attack will largely come from in the 2010-2011 season. And it’s clear, too, that Gillis is a general manager with a vision for the future.

Posted by Jordan Richardson.

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