Dustin Byfuglien's Blueline Switch a Permanent One?

Michael WagnerSenior Analyst IMarch 23, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 20:  Dustin Byfuglien #33 of the Chicago Blackhawks in action during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on March 20, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Blackhawks 5-4 in an overtime shootout.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

One of the few bright spots for the Chicago Blackhawks over the last few games has been Dustin Byfuglien's transition from forward back to defenseman. 

Byfuglien has played admirably during his two full games on the Blackhawks' blueline recording one assist, a plus-2 rating, eight shots, and a little over twenty minutes per game of ice time.

With Byfuglien's good play on defense and the limited amount of depth along the blueline this season and beyond, the question on fans minds is should this move to defense be a permanent one for him?

The big reason many believe that Byfuglien should return to his forward position because he provides a big body in front of the net and can be a bigger impact at the forward position.

However, Byfuglien seems to have a difficult time being consistent at forward and can at times look lethargic on the ice.

The interesting part is that Byfuglien seems to be enjoying the switch from forward to defense as is apparent from his interview after the morning skate this morning. 

Byfuglien says that he has enjoyed playing back on defense and is once again getting comfortable playing defense. 

This excitement to return to the blueline makes one wonder if Byfuglien feels more comfortable on the blueline that might be the best place to play him rather than forcing him to play as a power forward.

Another key issue in the debate of moving Byfuglien back to the blueline is the lack of depth organizationally at defense and could provide a stop gap for the likes of Shawn Lalonde and Dylan Olsen who still are developing.

So with the unfortunate news that defenseman Kim Johnsson is dealing with post concussion symptoms and Brian Campbell likely out for seven weeks healing from his broken clavicle it looks as though Byfuglien could get a shot to prove to the Blackhawks' brass that he might be worth a second look on the blue line.

Big Buff might not be the best or most polished defenseman, but he provides the Blackhawks with a booming point shot and a big body on the back-end that they desperately need.

However, Byfuglien will get a chance to make his mark during this final playoff push and will continue to fuel the debate on his ability to play defense once again.