Discussion

How productive are teenage D-men?

Updated: May 16, 2012, 10:24 AM ET
By Alvin Chang

In 2008, the NHL draft started as most drafts do: A top-flight forward, Steven Stamkos, was drafted No. 1 overall. But what happened after that was far from ordinary.

Four consecutive defensemen were taken from No. 2 to No. 5 -- Drew Doughty, Zach Bogosian, Alex Pietrangelo and Luke Schenn. It was the first time in NHL history that four of the top five picks were blueliners. There's a good reason this doesn't happen often. Forwards are almost a sure thing at the top of the draft. Defensemen? Not so much.

But that's not even what was most surprising. Of the four, all but Pietrangelo made significant NHL contributions in their draft year. That's crucial because if you're a GM and your team is drafting in the top five, there's a very good chance you're on the hot seat; your team needs to get immediate help if you want to keep your job. And the fact that three of these guys provided such rapid results is quite incredible. But more on that later.

In this upcoming draft, it's very unlikely we'll see a string of defensemen going this high -- not if Mikhail Grigorenko and Flilp Forsberg have anything to say about it. But it is possible that we'll see around eight defensemen in the lottery, starting with Everett's Ryan Murray and Red Deer's Mathew Dumba. And from what we're hearing, some teams -- especially at the top of the draft -- are expecting immediate production from their just-drafted rookie defensemen.

Is this a realistic expectation?

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