There's something cooking at the U.S. National Team Development Program's training center in Ann Arbor, Mich., and the main ingredient is high-end defensemen. There are seven of them -- but most notably five with 1992 birthdays projected to go in the top two rounds of the June 25 NHL draft.
They are Derek Forbort, Jon Merrill, Stephen Johns, Jarred Tinordi and Justin Faulk. (The under-agers, eligible for the 2011 draft, are Adam Clendening and Frankie Simonelli.) Collectively, they're a hulking group of diversely talented blueliners with the size and skill coveted by NHL teams. Instead of going the junior hockey route, they each chose to hone their skills playing the development program's grueling schedule against older, stronger college teams, and to participate in its rigorous off-ice training program.
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