Give or take, defensemen should comprise about one-third of the first-round picks in the 2013 NHL draft. It would be less surprising if one or two more go that early than if any fewer do.
At least one blueliner in the pool is a lock for selection among the top three. His track record sets the standard for his fellow prospects, as he has flaunted a thorough skill set for assertive maintenance in his own zone and production at the other end.
A player assuming a defensive assignment with elite offensive instincts is nothing to dismiss, but he's still not the leading specimen in the search for an ideal rearguard. They should rank immediately behind those who, whether subtly or spectacularly, get results on the home front and at least do their part to launch the puck the other way.
In either case, the more generally skilled a player is and the more long-term promise he has hinted at, the more consideration he deserves.
And, naturally, the top class of defensemen consists of those who advance their professional promise with proven performances in the amateur ranks. It is those who are a visible threat with the puck on his stick and equally, if not more so, to opponents when the biscuit is on their blade.
Based on what they have already demonstrated in each key area and what likely lies in their immediate future (namely 2013-14) as their development continues, here are the 10 most promising blueliners in this NHL draft class.