As mentioned in last week's edition of The Dean's List, the 2012 Draft Class is littered with franchise calibre defensemen. There are several game-changing rear-guards who could become very good NHL defensemen over the next few years and when we re-visit the 2012 draft it will likely become the "Year of the Defenseman". The Dean's List will feature a few defensemen who should be first round selections and could make some noise next season as the NHL Entry Draft approaches next June.
Ryan Murray – Everett Silvertips (WHL)
2010-11 Statistics: 70 GP – 6 G – 40 A – 46 P
The smooth-skating prairie boy is the current favourite to go first among his draft eligible defensemen. Ryan Murray is entering his third season for the Washington based Everett Silvertips and has some scouts salivating already at his all-around potential. Last season, at the tender age of seventeen Murray became the youngest captain in Silvertips history and exhibited his true leadership qualities finishing as Everett's second-leading scorer.
Murray is a good skater and excellent puck-mover but it is his poise and composure with the puck that elevates his game above most other defensemen his age and earns him the comparison to the former star Scott Niedermayer. In the 2011 U-18 World Championships, Ryan Murray captained Team Canada while leading all defensemen in tournament scoring with four goals and 13 points in seven games. Murray was a force throughout the tournament as he finished as Canada's top scorer and earned the Top Defenseman Award.
Griffin Reinhart – Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
2010-11 Statistics: 45 GP – 6 G – 19 A – 25 P
Meet the potential Shea Weber-clone. Griffin has a full tool box of skills that scouts are looking for in today's NHL defensemen – he has the size (6'4", 210 lbs), is a good skater, his shot is cannon-like, and he plays the game with a whole lot of nastiness. Griffin is the son of former NHLer Paul Reinhart who had a successful 11-year career with Atlanta, Calgary and Vancouver and it is looking as though some of his skills are rubbing off on his children (Max, 19, and Sam, 16, are also excellent hockey players). Griffin needs to improve on some of the defensive aspects of his game including positioning and gap control but his total package of size and skill is impossible to teach. The West Vancouver native is one of the many WHL defensemen to keep an eye out as it looks that he will become a top 10 draft pick.
Matt Dumba – Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
2010-11 Statistics: 62 GP – 15 G – 11 A – 26 P
The defence partner of the aforementioned Reinhart at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge, Matthew Dumba is the one defensive prospect that excites me the most. Dumba could be one of the best skaters in the entire 2012 draft class at this point as he possesses elite agility and can be extremely