2012 Draft: Defensemen dominate top of 2012 NHL Draft class

By Andrew Knoll

Photo: Cody Ceci is one of many defensemen likely to be selected in the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft. (Aaron Bell/OHL Images)


This year's crop of draft-eligible players overflows with talented defensemen, as 2012's blueliners possess the potential to fill out half of the first round.

There are imposing physical rearguards like Griffin Reinhart and slick offensive producers like Cody Ceci, all available for teams looking to upgrade in a league where a deep defense corps often portend playoff berths.

"It's just great to be mentioned in this class of defensemen because it's a pretty good class. Being a part of it is a pretty cool thing," said Jacob Trouba, the top-ranked United States-born defenseman who plans to attend the University of Michigan next season.

In a thinner year for defensive prospects, each of the top players might have a firmer sense of where they were headed. This season, a team seeking a defenseman has so many options that there are players who could easily climb up or slide down based on more factors than just team need or individual talent.

"I guess there's a little bit of uncertainty just because there are so many D and it depends how many teams need D," Ceci said.

"I'd rather go to a team later on that needs D than a team early on that wants a forward for the next couple years. I'd be willing to drop for a better opportunity."

Matt Dumba, a rangy Red Deer Rebels defenseman out of the WHL who said he most admired the Kings' Drew Doughty, said he was confident about going fairly high and prepared to play wherever he landed Friday.

"I don't really think about where I stack up against other guys or where I fit in with teams. We'll see what happens at the draft and then go from there," Dumba said.

For the projected top defenseman in the class, the Everett Silver Tips' Ryan Murray, it is less a matter of when he will be taken or where he will go than how he can break into the NHL immediately. While he said he would accept his team's decision to put him on the roster or return him to Everett, Murray said he was going to train hard and push even harder to make an NHL roster.

"I think you've got go in there and you've got to want to make it, you've got to put everything out there," he said.

Reinhart, an Edmonton Oil Kings standout, was another player with aspirations of hitting NHL ice at 18. He said he could offer teams defensive intensity and grit on the back line immediately as he worked to improve his lateral agility.

As far as the group of elite defense prospects, Reinhart said the days of competing for draft standing were over and the era of competing as pros had not yet begun.

"I think the atmosphere was a little bit competitive during the year but we're all good friends now," Reinhart said. "We've heard a lot about each other. We're able to enjoy it now since there's nothing we can do about it. Whoever goes, in whatever order from first to last, we'll all be proud of each other."