The NHL draft often headlines the offensive playmakers, and the early picks favor those players as well.
Defensemen tend to have a steeper learning curve, making them riskier picks in the top half of the first round. Of course, special talents such as Victor Hedman and Drew Doughty were slam-dunk picks in the top 10 of their respective drafts.
The 2011 NHL draft has its fair share of stud blue-liners. Adam Larsson, Ryan Murphy and Dougie Hamilton all could be on a top defensive pairing within five years. Jamieson Oleksiak, Nathan Beaulieu and Jonas Brodin all possess that upside as well.
However, the recent disappointments of Erik Johnson and Thomas Hickey in the top-five picks will continue to scare teams into drafting centers and wingers early rather than grabbing a defenseman.
For those bold teams willing to take the plunge into this talented group of defensive prospects, here are the best 15 the 2011 NHL draft has to offer.