Central Scouting: 2017 draft isn’t rich in defensemen

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Does your favorite team need to draft a top defenseman this summer?

If it does, it may have to get lucky.

According to most draft experts, the real strength of the draft is at forward, headlined by centers Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier, and Gabriel Vilardi.

There are some promising blue-liners available, to be sure — just not as many compared to years past.

“I’d say the depth of defensemen is not there as compared to a year ago,” said Troy Dumville of Central Scouting, per NHL.com. “But I think there’s six or seven quality guys that’ll end up in the first round that are definitely good prospects.”

Timothy Liljegren, Juuso Valimaki, Cale Makar, Nicolas Hague, and Callan Foote are all d-men who should be snapped up relatively early.

Last year, nine defensemen were taken in the first round, the first being Olli Juolevi, who went fifth overall to Vancouver.

Of course, not all great defensemen were first-round picks. Duncan Keith was a second-rounder. So were Shea Weber and P.K. Subban. One of the greatest defensemen ever, Nicklas Lidstrom, was a third-rounder.

“Historically, d-men take longer to develop,” former coach Scotty Bowman said a few years ago, per the Denver Post. “It’s tougher to project where they’ll be in five years, whereas a supremely skilled forward, you kind of know where they’re headed.”

Related: Major roster holes remain in Buffalo