Defense Watch

I choose the Top Defense Skaters that fell into the Top 30 of NHL Central Scouting in N.A. and top Defense skaters that fell in the top 20 in Europe.  I am not advocating that we draft anyone or position.  I did some research and I thought I should share with you guys.  Sorry that this is so long. 

North America

Dougie Hamilton-Niagara (OHL)- 6’4  187 lbs; Shoots- Right- GP-67; G-12; A-46; PIM-77.

Playoffs GP-12; G-3; A-11; PIM-14

"He moves the puck well and makes good outlet passes, he does make good decisions with the puck, moves it very well out of his zone. He's a big guy, he'll take the body. … He uses his size well. He can muscle people off the puck." NHL Central Scouting

"Especially at this level, you find guys that are awkward or don't have a lot of explosion. You're 6-foot-4, you don't have a lot of explosion (but) the jump off his skates is phenomenal. When he sees those opportunities to jump into the rush or lead the rush, I really believe it's untapped what he can do. He's a very special defenseman in our league. He just has to understand the details and he's going to be a very good pro . . . Dougie gets himself very prepared for hockey games. He's very diligent preparing himself. He goes about it very business-like. He's mature beyond his years.” From Niagara Head Coach

If you are a long-time reader of B2011DW, then you know that we've been big fans of Dougie for quite some time now. He just finished a record-setting season, establishing the club record for points by a d-man on the IceDogs with 58 on on 12 goals and 46 helpers (breaking Alex Pietrangelo's old mark). The offense from the 6-4, 195-pounder was pretty unexpected, as he only scored 3 goals and 16 points as a rookie and probably could have called a 34-point campaign a success. Hamilton is a very good skater for a defenseman of his size, exhibiting some real jump and smooth acceleration, top speed, and excellent lateral agility and footwork. His wheels allow him to jump into the play, and he's a self-described "sneaky offensive player" who scored several of his goals by shooting down into the slot and losing his man in time to rip the puck into the back of the net. With his size and mobility, he can play a shutdown role, but he has a big point shot, so he has power play duty in the NHL as a realistic option. He's a right-shooter, so on a team with a big lefty, Hamilton could be even more valuable. His coach, Marty Williamson, told us that Hamilton needs only minor tweaks to his game, and that he gets in trouble when he stops moving his feet (as most defenders do at any level- let's face it). Some scouts are concerned about his vision and ability to move the puck at the next level, but we don't see it. He's a solid kid with tremendous blood lines (both parents were Olympians in rowing and basketball) a high intellect (2010 OHL scholastic player of the year and could win it again this season) and outstanding work ethic. Teammates genuinely like him, and he will play the game with an edge, though he mostly keeps things simple and clean. We don't buy the concerns about this guy and feel that at the absolute lowest, he'll be a 4th/shutdown D at the NHL level. He has No. 1/solid No. 2 upside and should be a high pick.

Stock watch: Up; stud d-man needed to show scouts that he could take his impressive physical tools and put them together- he did that and more. There is a big disparity between his home ice production and that on the road, but the issues with Hamilton's game and season are pretty nitnoid. At the end of the day, this is the prototypical defenseman NHL teams are looking for: big, mobile, skilled and having upside. Hard to imagine he'll drop very far on draft day, but a strong playoff would certainly lock him up inside the top-10 we think.


Nathan Beaulieu- Saint John (QMJHL)- 6’2  174 lbs; shoots-Left- GP-65; G-12; A-33; PIM-52

Playoffs GP-11; G-2; A-11; PIM-20

"He'll be an offensive-defenseman … he's a good skater, good puck-mover. He has a good shot and is very poised with the puck. He's a veteran who has a lot of responsibilities for Saint John." NHL Cnetral Scouting

"He's gotten better, bigger and stronger, he’s playing a lot better defensively but he's pressing for his points. He's a guy who gets a lot of opportunities because he jumps into the rush very well." From St. John’s Head Coach

Superb two-way defenseman may be the one guy not being talked about with Dougie Hamilton and Duncan Siemens, but could crack the top-10 of the draft if a team likes him enough. The Ontario-born, Maritimes-raised Beaulieu is not quite as big as Hamilton, but is a good skater who can hit, pass and shoot. He's got a real nasty edge to him, too. He'll fight, but doesn't do it all that often after creating some space for himself in some one-sided bouts. Smart player and son of a London Knights assistant coach, his 12 goals and 45 points and a plus-44 are numbers that may be inflated given how good his team was this season, but this guy has some legitimate potential and should be off the board by pick 15 at the latest. Of course, you never know- we would have never believed that both of Brandon Gormley and Cam Fowler would drop as far as he did?
Stock Watch: So long as Saint John is playing, Beaulieu's got a nice chance of raising his profile and moving up in the draft. Like Huberdeau, the playoffs could be this guy's big moment to make a push to be the second d-man off the board after Adam Larsson.


Ryan Murphy- Kitchener (OHL) 5’10  166 lbs; Shoots-Right- GP-63; G-26; A-53; PIM-36.

Playoffs GP-7; G-2; A-9; PIM-8;  U-18 GP-7; G-4; A-9; PIM-2

"Ryan's work on the power play is outstanding, He sees the ice very well and is creative, [has] excellent passing ability and a great shot that he gets through to the net. (He's) also an excellent all-round skater. He's got real good mobility. He's a bit of a gambler. He does move the puck well, but he's going to have to concentrate on making good plays” NHL Central Scouting

"He’s like no one else in this league. You can’t get to him, you can’t hit him. He’s a kid that’s slippery, his vision is second to none, his hockey sense is second to none. He can skate and he’s got a rocket. He’s got all the intangibles to be an all-star not only in this league, but the National Hockey League." From Rangers Head Coach

When you've been one of the most talked-about prospects for the top-10 of the NHL draft all season, is it actually possible to raise your stock? Well, the Aurora, Ontario native and Kitchener Rangers star did it in Germany. The production was record-setting in itself, but it was how Murphy scored the points that had tongues a-wagging. Whether firing up the ice like he had rockets on his skates, or slithering through defenses while showing off several gears and superlative edge control/balance or making 360-degree spin moves and blind passes on the stick tape of teammates, Murphy was as dynamic as they come. Bruins fans who were hoping he would fall to the ninth spot now can only hope that if he is Boston's target, that the team can move up to secure him, because we just don't see him dropping very far out of the top-five (if at all even) after the kind of season, OHL playoffs and now Under-18 performance he just had. In fact, B2011DW wouldn't be at all surprised if the New Jersey Devils grabbed him as high as fourth overall. Sure, it will depend on who drops to them, but for a team who knew exactly what it had with Scott Niedermayer for over a decade, this kid's high-end offensive chops aren't far off.


Duncan Siemens- Saskatoon (WHL)- 6’2   192 lbs; Shoots- Left- GP-72; G-5; A-38; PIM-121.

Playoffs GP-10; G-1; A-3; PIM-14

“He's a guy that is really tough to play against. Sometimes I think he over-does it, tries to do too much, but he's got all the potential. He can carry the puck, he's a tough kid -- he can fight. He's tough to play against. He can work both ends; he plays both the power play and penalty kill. He's just a solid, all-round defenseman.” NHL Central Scouting

"Siemens is a strong, smooth skater with good composure and very poised under pressure. He's got good size and isn't afraid to use it. Duncan isn't overly offensive, but does play on the power play and moves the puck well. He gets shots through and is solid defensively, one-on-one.” NHL Central Scouting

Admittedly, we haven't been as high on Siemens at this blog space as others, but it's time to face facts, and that is this: with his size, skating ability and pure toughness plus upside, it's hard to imagine any other player in the WHL being drafted ahead of the Blades d-man once RNH is off the board.He has a powerful stride and good lateral agility. The first-step quickness is still a work in progress, but it isn't a shortcoming. He's a tall and lean 6-3, 195-pounds, but when he fills out more, he'll be even more of a physical beast than he is now. His gap control is very good, and he plays a sound positional game. The points weren't really there at the beginning, but he came on better in the second half, and he finished with five goals, 38 assists for 43 points and 121 penalty minutes as one hard-nosed, tough mother. Another thing to like about him- he's a Sep. '93 birthdate, making him one of the youngest players in the class, and given his poise and edge, that's really saying something. The offensive upside is a question that is going to go on in NHL war rooms of teams that have a top-10 selection in this draft, but if Dylan McIlrath can go 10th overall, then Siemens, a very similar kind of player in terms of style and substance, but one who has more skill, could very well do the same or better. B2011DW is late to the party, but based on what we saw in the CHL Top Prospects Game and the fact that all we've heard about Siemens all season long speaks to a level of consistency that is laudable, we think he's a solid No. 2 in the WHL behind RNH. We're not sure we would take someone like Siemens at 7 or 8, but if he were to go that high, it would not surprise.
Stock watch: Up; playoff hockey is made for a guy like Siemens, so he should elevate his standing even more. Production could be the icing on the cake that pushes him inside the top-10, but even if he doesn't go that high, we can't envision a scenario in which he drops past 15. He could end up being a solid,middle-pairing guy in the NHL, but his potential to be more plus toughness quotient means that he'll go higher than lower in our opinion.


Joseph Morrow- Portland (WHL)-  6’0  197 lbs; Shoots- Left- GP-60; G-9; A-40; PIM-67

Playoffs GP-12; G-4; A-17; PIM-15

Another guy who may have been flying under the radar when the season began, no longer. NHL teams are not going to steal this guy, who has the look of developing into a solid No. 2 at the NHL level one day. A fine skater who sees the ice extremely well and loves to rush the puck. Morrow is a very good passer and has a point cannon that he gets off quickly. Sometimes, he is too much in love with his shot, says one NHL scout, who wanted to see him switch things up a bit and not go for the big slapper all the time, but admitted he was nitpicking the rangy defender with size's (6-1, 200) game. Morrow's defense and positioning are not as strong as the offensive element to his game, but NHL teams will covet that guy who can move the puck effectively, knowing that is a much tougher element to find. They can always pair a player like that with a stronger defensive partner, but legitimate PMD's are at a premium these days, so don't expect Morrow to last that long beyond the 1st round if he even slips out of the top-30. He's got an edge to him as well, but doesn't have much ability as a fighter- his real value is in his skill game.


Jamieson Oleksiak- Northeastern (Hockey E)-6’7  244 lbs; Shoots- Left; GP-34; G-3; A-9; PIM-51

Playoffs GP-4; G-1; A-0; PIM-6

We covered the mammoth (6-7, 244) defenseman for the Huskies in pretty good detail earlier this month after seeing him in Boston, so we won't rehash here other than to say he's a big riser in draft discussions. Admittedly, B2011DW is not as sold on his high-end upside, though we have no doubt that he will be an NHL player at some point simply because his size and mobility will earn him a job in the big show as a shutdown defender if nothing else. His coordination and footwork are so good for an 18-year-old player with his height and long limbs (read: call him "Condorman" with that gigantic wingspan of his and long stick)- usually, kids as young as he is are gangly and struggle with their movements into they grow into their bodies. Not so with Oleksiak, which is what makes him so intriguing. That said, his overall instincts and vision are questionable, and while he's got a bomb of a shot, he's going to need to refine his mechanics and release in order to make it work at the next level. Better yet, change it up and use the wrist shot and snap shot to bury pucks when he's short on time and space to get the howitzer off. But other than that, he's a legitimate 1st-round prospect and the best NCAA player in this class by a pretty wide margin. Oleksiak finished his freshman season with four goals and 13 points in 38 NCAA games, while adding 57 minutes in the box. Time will tell whether he lives up to the promise some scouts are talking about seeing with him, but when taking chances on players with high draft picks, it's all about the projection, and he has some of the most intriguing raw upside of any prospect in 2011.

Scott Mayfield- Youngstown (USHL)- 6’4  197 lbs; Shoots-Right; GP-52; G-7; A-9; PIM-159

No Playoffs

It has been a confounding year for the St. Louis native and Denver University recruit who wowed NHL scouts at the Research & Development Camp last August by forming a massive but mobile shutdown pairing with Mike McKee. At 6-4, 200 pounds Mayfield has size and skating ability plus good puck skills and above average hockey sense going for him. He also plays a physical, hard-nosed game and is a pretty complete two-way defenseman when on his game. Unfortunately, he's playing on one of the worst USHL teams in Youngstown and hasn't gotten much help in terms of development this season, which has ultimately hurt his stock a bit after posting just 6 goals and 13 points in 45 games with the Phantoms this season after an impressive 10-12-22 campaign as a rookie last year.

"He came to the USHL as a late-bloomer needing some coaching and development and didn't get it," said one scout commenting on the Youngstown situation. "On top of that, they had him playing about 30 minutes a night, so he was gassed and prone to making mistakes. He just doesn't have much help on that team." The good news for Mayfield is that by going to DU, he will be on one of the top NCAA programs in terms of developing and preparing its players for the pro hockey ranks. Coach George Gwozdecky is one of the most respected coaches among NHL teams in that regard.

Giese has seen a lot of Mayfield going back to last season and had this to say about him: "He's definitely number one in the USHL (in my opinion) and has got by far the most upside of any of the kids," Giese told B2011DW. "He's massive, is an excellent skater, moves the puck pretty good and plays with some real physical aggression. If you're an NHL team and are thinking big picture, he's still a first-round pick and when he gets to a new location, he could be one of those players people are going to look back on and wonder why he went lower in the draft, which is the way things look for him right now."

Connor Murphy- USA U-18 (USHL)- 6’3  185 lbs; Shoots-Right; GP-14; G-3; A-3; PIM-6

0 games played in the Playoffs

It's always good news when your best offensive defenseman is also one of your best defensive players, and that's what Murphy did against the Slovaks. He made a beautiful block on a 2-on-1 in the 1st period to deny a scoring chance, and was in position all day. Showed nice gap control, an active stick and took the body when it warranted. He's big but doesn't lay a lot of crushing hits, yet is still pretty effective in the angles he takes and the defensive awareness he shows. Really nasty on the point during the power play. Moved it smartly with partner Jacob Trouba all game long, forcing the Slovaks to open up the umbrella and create some shooting lanes. USA's success with the man advantage today was no accident and it started with their PP point men: Murphy, Trouba, Seth Jones and Robbie Russo.


Adam Laarson- Skelleftea (Sweeden)- 6’3 200 lbs; Shoots-Right- GP-37, G-1, A-8, PIM  41.

World Juniors GP-6; G-1; A-3; PIM-4

“Adam is one of the best skater’s in this year’s draft -- he has excellent speed and mobility. He also has patient puck handling abilities and can surprise an opponent with a solid hit. His size and skating ability make him comparable with Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman.” Central scouting

Still the beast- er- best European prospect for the 2011 draft. Smooth, skilled defenseman has playing against men since age 16. He's 6-3, 220 pounds- a mature, poised, confident kid even though he had a down year (1 goal, 9 points in 37 games) compared to his rookie campaign in the SEL (4-13-17 in 49 contests). Larsson had some up-and-down performances in international tournaments, but saved some of his best for the World Jr. Championship. He showed off his powerful stride and ability to move well laterally, and was especially good at moving the puck and making outlet passes. Larsson is a smart guy who sees the ice well and has a high panic point, meaning he'll hold onto the puck until the last possible second for his teammates to get open, meaning he often takes a good amount of hits over the course of a game and season. He also has a booming shot and can score his share of them from the point. Larsson was not a dominating player, but that's not really his game. On the downside, he's struggled with injuries this year- missing time because of an injury and he got banged up in a March 22 playoff game against Luleå, injuring his shoulder and not dressing for the next contest. Like many kids who emerge as draft frontrunners early, he's had his game nitpicked and some wonder if he can truly be a legitimate No. 1 two-way cornerstone at the NHL level, but he has all the tools to be very, very good regardless. Several NHL scouts we've spoken to feel that Larsson is getting the typical treatment most get when they've been in the spotlight so long- every aspect of their game gets laid bare. Save for the rare player like Sidney Crosby, most draft prospects can't stand up under that kind of intense scrutiny without some warts being discovered.

Stock Watch: Up, despite injury situation. You're looking at the first or second overall pick with this kid- make no mistake about that. It will be interesting to see how he develops at the NHL level, but given his pro experience abroad, don't be surprised to see him in the big show as early as next season if his contract situation permits. He has the physical and mental makeup to play right away.


Jonas Bordin- Farjestad (Sweeden)-  6’1  169 lbs; Shoots- Left- GP-42, G-0, A-4, PIM 12

One more in a long line of highly skilled and mobile puck-moving rearguards from Sweden, the tall (6-1) but very lanky Brodin is an outstanding skater whose strength is his east-west lateral movement and ability to crossover in the face of forwards who attack with speed. He's got excellent vision and defensive instincts, able to diagram unfolding plays and put himself in position to interdict and neutralize the opposition attack. Brodin also has the ability to start the transition game to offense with his soft hands and crisp outlet passing. Although only about 165-170 pounds, Brodin has also shown a surprising ability to play a physical game. This is especially significant because he's competing at the Swedish Elite League (SEL) level this season with Färjestad. By bruins draft watch

"Looks tiny around net and corners, but never shies from contact and his fine positioning and timing allow him to handle the added physicality. Smart and makes heady plays with the puck, finding breaking wingers on the tape." Par Larsson scout for bruins


Oscar Klefbom- Farjestad (Sweeden)- 6’4  200 lbs; Shoots-Left- GP 23; G-1, A-1, PIM 2

U-18 GP-6; G-1; A-3; PIM-4

Sweden's top puck rusher is Brodin's teammate in Farjestad and is a much flashier prospect because he zooms up the ice like he's been shot from a cannon, fires the puck hard and plays a more aggressive, dynamic style. He may not be Brodin's equal defensively or even in how he processes and thinks the game, but we love the way he activates at the right time and will jump into the play. When he's on his game, he will attack defenses with speed and can gain the zone on his own. He instinctively sees the shooting lanes opening up and takes advantage- he's not afraid to get the puck on net and likes to hammer it at the goalie as much as he can. Klefbom does have the vision and hands to hit his teammates with passes. If teams are looking for a defender who loves to rush the puck over your more classic puck mover, than Klefbom is their guy.


Rasmus Bengtsson- Rogle (Sweeden-2)- 6’2  189 lbs; shoots- Left- GP-45; G-2; A-7; PIM 6

U-18 GP-6; G-0; A-4; PIM-2

Started the year slowly, but really came on in the second half after he got his bearings in the Allsvenskan. He's a strong skater with good four-way mobility and the kind of agility that allows him to smoothly transition/open up the hips for fluid chances of direction. He also has a pretty big point shot- just needs to refine a few things on his release and accuracy. He's been making smart decisions with the puck and hitting on his passes. He's a strong puck mover who plays an intelligent game and has no real glaring weaknesses in any aspect of what he brings to the mix. We're hearing that a lot of teams are hoping to steal Bengtsson later on in the draft, but after his solid four-assist performance and effective defensive play, that's probably not happening.


Karl Johansson- Brynas Jr. (Sweeden Jr)- 5’8  167 lbs; shoots- Left- GP-35; G-6; A-5; PIM-49

U-18 GP-6; G-0; A-2; PIM-4

Small but highly skilled


Zakhar Arzamastsev- Novokuznetsk (Russia)- 6’2  205 lbs; Shoots-Left- GP-47; G-3; A-5; PIM-6

Average-sized defender (6-0, 180) is mobile, smart and carries some upside. He's not a blazing skater, but is fast enough and brings nice footwork and lateral movement to the mix. He keeps his head up and is an intelligent player who reads the play well and moves the puck to the right spaces on the ice. He made the victorious Russian squad at the CHL Subway Series, and was one of the final cuts on Team Russia's gold medal-winning WJC squad. What makes him impressive is that he was the youngest player on the Subway Team and would have been the youngest on the WJC team by a wide margin. He didn't do a lot to stand out in the Subway Series, but played pretty mistake-free hockey. He's been a tough view for NHL scouts playing in Siberia this season posting 3-5-8 totals in 47 games for Novokuznetsk, so where he goes in the draft is anyone's guess. Red Line has him 54th in March, but the Russians tend to slide in recent seasons and we see no real reason for Arzamastsev to be a trend bucker this time. He could be a mid-to-late-round gem, though and has a good reputation off the ice as a passionate, dedicated player. is a fan community, allowing members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Colorado Avalanche and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editors of

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