2012 is being dubbed 'the Year of the Defenseman', and it couldn't be more true. From the top down there is quality defensemen to be had throughout as the season progresses. Inf act, it's so deep that I'm breaking them up into two blogs just so I can talk about each defenseman that strikes my fancy and could be a Top 30 Selection.
Sound good to you folks?
Ryan Murray - Everett Silvertips (WHL)
Having Captained Team Canada as the youngest member of it's Under 18 team this past season, and drawing comparisons to one of the best in the game - Scott Neidermayer, Murray is a name to keep pegged at the top of the draft board. He missed the 2011 Draft by 12 days. A calm and poised defender, Murray is a terrific skater who can elude the best of checkers and see his options on the break out. He has tremendous amounts of vision and can run a Power Play, along with his creative juices. Defensively he plays an error free simple game and gets the job done. He's a keep piece of a team's transition game, and is a very mature kid. Future NHL Captain? Very likely.
Griffin Reinhart - Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Standing at six-foot-four already, Reinhart is a massive rearguard with upside. His skating is in need of some mechanics work, but he has a good top speed to work with. He's got offensive abilities with instincts and vision to go along with his cannon from the point. Reinhart also displays a mean streak often. He consistently lays out opposing forwards with bone crushing hits, and then takes others to the wall hard. He's a raw talent who needs to get a full season this year to iron out the very minor kinks to his game.
Matthew Dumba - Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
What happens when Dion Phaneuf and P.K. Subban have a love child? Riots in the streets of Toronto and Montreal, of course. But you'd also get the talent that Red Deer got to watch play with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins this past year. A tremendously gifted offensive defender, Dumba plays the game on the edge. He possesses a bomb from the point as his main tool, but brings a lot more to the table. He has tremendous vision and can hit teammates with crisp passes, even stretch passes. He's a gifted skater who lacks a high top speed, but can carry the puck himself should he need to. He's aggressive physically, and initiates rough stuff with big open-ice hits.
Cody Ceci - Ottawa 67's (OHL)
at six-foot-two and already 200 pounds, Ceci is big, strong, and a two-way presence in the Nation's Capital. Mobile, though not entirely fast, Ceci makes up for the lack of speed with sound positioning and a good head on his shoulders. He uses his body to his advantage and is a battler. Offensively he knows when to go and when not to, and will jump in when the time calls for it. He's hard to beat defensively and competes hard each shift. There's very little 'wow' in Ceci's game but he's reliable at both ends of the ice.
Jacob Trouba - US National Team Development Program (USHL)
Trouba is a player. At six-foot-two, he has the frame to build upon, as well as the skills to be a force. He's a good skater with mobility and explosiveness in his initial strides. Offensively he's a force. He'll skate the puck up himself, or make crisp breakout passes. He can control the play offensively, and has a shot to be feared. A willing combatant, Trouba catches many with their head down coming into his zone. The question that will hang on him all season - are you going to be a Kitchener Ranger next season?
Jordan Schmaltz - Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
A big bodied defender with offensive skill (note: this is a recording)
, Schmaltz is an agile skater who loves to rush the puck himself and control the game. He has vision out the butt and knows how to open lanes on the Power Play. His shot possesses some power and weight behind it, but will get better as he gets stronger.
Nick Ebert - Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Windsor's two-way star, Ebert is a smart defender on both sides of the puck and shows high amounts of hockey IQ. He starts the breakout with pin point passing, or can look like Bobby Orr as he lugs the puck up the ice himself. He's a gifted skater with four-way mobility and speed. He has a hard shot and will play rough when he needs to, though that isn't his game.
Most of these aforementioned names, if not all, look to have the high-end potential to be top pairing defenders. It's a good year if you are in need of some top end defensive prospects.