If defense really does win championships, then NHL scouts and general managers should feel rather fortunate since the 2012 NHL Draft will be loaded with high-caliber prospects along the back end.
The last time as many as five defensemen were among the top 10 players selected in the opening round of the draft was 1996, when five were chosen. There's a good chance that could be equaled in Round 1 this June 22 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
At least that's what NHL Central Scouting believes based on its midterm release Wednesday, as seven of the top 10 North American players listed happen to star along the blue line.
Despite the depth of quality defenders to choose from, the top two North American skaters happen to be a pair of offensively gifted Russian forwards -- No. 1 Nail Yakupov of the Ontario Hockey League's Sarnia Sting and No. 2 Mikhail Grigorenko of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Quebec Remparts.
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