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Canucks thinking offensively with Hodgson

by Brian Compton

OTTAWA -- The Vancouver Canucks bolstered their offense early in the 2008 Entry Draft. One year after selecting center Patrick White in the first round, the Canucks went the same route this time around by taking highly touted, two-way center Cody Hodgson 10th overall.

Vancouver added to its defensive core in Round 2 with the selection of Yann Sauve, who will bring size and an offensive upside to the organization. But it's the addition of Hodgson that could be the start of something big in Vancouver. The 18-year-old has already drawn comparisons to long-time captain Trevor Linden for his leadership and his ability to play in the defensive zone.

"We're thrilled to get him," General Manager Mike Gillis said. "He's a great young player. He's got terrific leadership skills and he fits into our plans as soon as he's able to make our hockey team. We expect to give him a great opportunity and we'll see what he does with it."

Here is a look at Vancouver's 2008 NHL Entry Draft class:
No. 10 Cody Hodgson, C, Brampton (OHL) – Two-way center is coming off a breakout season with Brampton, where he increased his points output from 46 to 85 points. Perhaps more importantly, Hodgson's plus/minus rating went from minus-21 to plus-15 as he was used in all situations. His 40 goals led the Batallion.

Whether or not Hodgson can play right away for the Canucks remains to be seen. But with the retirement of Trevor Linden and the possible loss of Brendan Morrison to free agency, the Canucks filled a hole up the middle.

"I try to play as much like Sidney Crosby as possible. It works for him," joked Hodgson, who wore No. 19 in Brampton in honor of Steve Yzerman. "I try to play a smart, offensive game and create chances for my teammates and I. But at the same time, I try not to be a defensive liability."

No. 41 Yann Sauve, D, Saint John (QMJHL) – Hulking defenseman (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) had 92 penalty minutes in his sophomore campaign with Saint John. Sauve can also contribute offensively, evidenced by his six goals and 15 assists. He also had
three points and 23 penalty minutes in 14 playoff games.

In a classic case of irony, Sauve was born on the very same day as
Cody Hodgson, Vancouver's first-round selection. Sauve says he tries to emulate his game after Calgary's Dion Phaneuf. His blast from the point will surely be an asset for Vancouver down the road.

"I'm a character guy," Sauve said. "I'm always playing to win and will do anything to win. I'm a big, solid defenseman who can hit, and I have a good shot."

No. 131 Prab Rai, C, Seattle (WHL) – British Columbia native looks to be a playmaker, considering that 45 of his 65 points – which came in just 72 games – were assists. The fact that he's a local player was obviously another reason why Rai was attractive to Vancouver brass.

The Canucks are excited about Rai's speed and his ability to get around the defense. Played for Team Canada in the 2005-06 World under-17 Championships.

No. 161 Matt Froshaug, C, Linkoping Jr. (Swedish Jr.) – A native of Norway, Froshaug was noticed by Canucks scouts at the World Junior tournament, when he tallied four goals and three assists in just five games. Froshaug represented Norway again at the 2008 World Hockey Championship as a 19-year-old.

No. 191 Morgan Clark, G, Red Deer (WHL)
– The son of Canucks goaltending consultant Ian Clark, the 18-year-old went 10-30-3 with a 3.78 GAA and an .884 save percentage in 38 appearances for Red Deer.

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