Did someone mention Sam Pollock?
Sam Pollock is generally considered one of the best GMs ever in the NHL. In 1958, when he took over as the director of player personel in Montreal, there were players already on the team like Jean Beliveau, Rocket and Henri Richard, Doug Harvie, Jacques Plante, etc. and promising french canadian players in their farm system, which of course he had previously built.
He was the GM from 1963 (the first amateiur draft year) to1978, so he participated in 15 drafts. In those 15 drafts, he had something like 32 first round picks, five of them number one picks, and 21 of them #8 or higher. You can find a list of the players he drafted at Hockey Reference::http://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/MTL/draft.html
Of his five number one picks, his only notable pick was in 1971. He is lauded for trading Ralph Backstrom to another team to strengthen them so that he got to pick number 1...he got Lafleur, the number two pick was some bag of pucks called Marcel Dionne. I believe in only one of his 15 years did he have any picks after the second round turn into good NHLers. He got players like Larry Robinson in the second round...if he was such a good judge of talent, how come he didn’t take him in the first round (he took two other players in the first round ahead of Robinson, Chuck Arnason and Murry Wilson)?
While he was supposed to be a great judge of player potential, his draft record says he was no better than many other GMs. His actual best attribute was the ability to talk other GMs into trading him high draft picks (like getting the number 1 in 1971) for aging borderline star players. Few GMs would be dumb enough to make those kinds of trades now (well, one can always hope for a Brian Burke special), and no one can expect Mike Gilles to be able to.
Also, have a look at the team Ken Holland took control of as GM in Detroit after already being with the team for 10 years. He took over a club with several future HOFers, including that Swedish defenceman who just retired. Other than being lucky with a couple of late round picks, his draft record is certainly comparable to what we have seen from MG so far as others have pointed out.
I note the above as the basis of my believing that MG has been no worse than Sam Pollock or Ken Holland in terms of drafting players so far, given Vancouver’s draft position, and he cannot be considered a bad GM on that basis.