For year, people have talked about the amount of time that it takes for an young defensemen to develop into a good player, but several players from the 2008 NHL Draft are making a mockery that view.
This year several defensemen from that group are making major contributions around the league. Drew Doughty, Kings; Zach Bogosian, Thrashers; Luke Schenn, Maple Leafs (above); Tyler Myers, Sabres; Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis and Michael Del Zotto, Rangers (right) have all made major contributions to their clubs. Luca Sbisa made a contribution last year to the Flyers but during the off season was traded to the Ducks and sent back to Lethbridge of the WHL. There are also a bunch of these young defensemen from the class in the AHL including Erik Karlsson, Ottawa.
While some of these defensemen were expected to do great things, Myers and Del Zotto were not expected to shine this quickly. Myers improved his reputation a ton last year with his performance at the World Junior Championships, while Del Zotto impressed during the training camp and has seen significate time on the Rangers first power play unit.
There are a couple of reasons that these defensemens have grown up quickly in the league. One of the major reasons is they are getting great training in the junior hockey. All of the kids that have made an impact on the back line have come from the Western Hockey League or the Ontario Hockey League. These leagues are almost run like professional programs allowing for the players to grow on and off the ice. Another major for the growth is the NHL salary cap. Teams can not afford veterans as their fourth and fifth defensemen, so they are turning to younger and cheaper talent to fill those voids.
Watching a young player growup is always fun. Sure there are going to ups and downs. With these defensemen its no different, but all of them look like they are going to be in the league for a long time.