Rember this guy? He was originally drafted as a Defenseman...
Over the years, many NHL players have been asked to switch positions for the better of the team. In most cases, the move typically involves a forward moving from centre to wing or vice versa.
The bigger move is to ask a defenseman to move to forward, which has also had it’s fair share of success stories, including the Chicago Blackhawks electing to go with Dustin Byfuglien (a defenseman by nature) along the boards and in front of the net, which paid huge dividends for the Hawks, especially in the playoffs where Byfuglien was a constant irritation for opposing goaltenders.
With all this in mind, let’s take a look at ten NHL players that could/should change their position…
Might Tomas Kaberle satisfy Brian Burke's need for a top-six forward???
The Toronto Maple Leafs have a long and successful history of developing defensemen into forwards.
Originally drafted first overall in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft as a defenseman, legendary Leafs’ captain Wendel Clark was developed into one of the best forwards in Maple Leaf history.
Known for his toughness, tenacity, fighting ability and leadership, Clark owned one of the best wrist shots known to man. His quick release and willingness to go to the net, helped him to score 330 c career goals, including the 1993-94 season which saw him score 46 goals in 64 games.
Clearly, Clark is an exceptional example of what can happen if you develop a player from a defenseman to a forward, while the likes of Wade Belak (another Leafs’ defenseman who was asked to play forward) is an example of just how often these transformations fail.
With the Leafs in desperate need of a top six forward and with a glut of talent on the backend, many Leafs’ fans are looking for management to ask veteran defenseman Tomas Kaberle to make the move to centre/forward.
At first glance the move would seem to be an act of stupidity. While not an elite defenseman (such as Chris Pronger, Duncan Keith, Nik Lidstrom, etc.), Kaberle is still a legitimate top two on just about every NHL roster. His ability to start the rush and make pinpoint passes to forwards on the power play make him a dangerous foe on the backend.
It is exactly those qualities that make Kaberle a decent candidate to make the switch. The only shortcomings Kaberle has is his penchant for always thinking pass-first, especially on the power play where Leaf fans can be heard yelling “shoot” at Kaberle on a nightly basis.
A good skater, with decent size (6’1”, 214 pounds), Kaberle has the size to compete down the middle or along the boards. His passing ability would make him an excellent fit alongside sniper Phil Kessel, while his defensive abilities would make him a great two-way forward.
Man, now that I have written this out, maybe Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke and the boys should move Kaberle to forward?
Tyler Seguin will likely play on the Wing this season
Ok, so Tyler Seguin hasn’t made the Boston Bruins roster yet, but there is plenty of reason to suggest the talented prospect will crack the Bruins lineup this season.
Blessed with a ton of depth down the middle (Marc Savard, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron), the Bruins will likely look to move Seguin (a natural centre) to the wing this season in order to get him into the lineup.
Seguin, who is said to be willing to play anywhere the Bruins ask him to play, should be right at home on the wing, where he can use his speed, passing ability and size (6’1, 182) to his advantage.
While making the transition from centre to the wing doesn’t seem like a huge step, the nuances of each position can be decidedly different for a player, especially a rookie that has spent limited time along the boards in his career.
No question, the wing can be a physically challenging position, which is something that Seguin will have to brace himself for if he is successful in making the transition.
Mike Green would be a force to be reckoned with at forward...
Whether you agree will all of my selections today or not, one suggestion that will garner a lot of support from NHL fans would be to see Mike Green of the Washington Capitals making the move from defenseman to forward.
Blessed with a heavy shot and tremendous offensive instincts, Green is also known for making far too many defensive gaffs, especially in his own end.
Often caught flat-footed in the neutral zone, Green has a tendency to think offense first, second and third, which has affected his defensive play and caused him to be exposed, especially in the playoffs where he has played some of his worst hockey.
Nicknamed “Game Over”, Green would be a valuable addition to the Capitals forward corps, but will probably never get the chance.
Should Evgeni Malkin shift to the Wing on a full-time basis???
As one of the deepest NHL teams at centre and weak along the boards, the Pittsburgh Penguins often ask Evgeni Malkin to play alongside Sidney Crosby, especially on the power play.
While Malkin’s ability at centre is unmistakable, a duo of Crosby and Malkin for a full 82 games would be something to behold.
Crosby made the transition from pass-first to sniper last season, taking his goal total from 33 in 2008-09 to leading the NHL in goals (tied with Steven Stamkos) with 51.
If Malkin was to find his way alongside Crosby on a fulltime basis one would think that Crosby would likely choose to revert to his passing ways, which, in turn, would make Malkin all the more dangerous to opposing goaltenders.
At 6’3” and 195 pounds, Malkin has the size to dominate along the boards, while his tenacity and compete level would also serve him well.
Malkin’s stick handling ability would allow him to bring the puck out of the corner, while his tremendous speed would serve him well against opposing forwards and defensemen alike.
Marc-Andre Bergeron has all the tools to be a decent forward....
For those of you that follow my writing, you will know that I have long been a fan of moving defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron to forward.
Blessed with a cannon of a shot, Bergeron is often criticized for his defensive gaffs.
At 5’10”, 197 pounds, Bergeron is small by defenseman standards. His small frame may be better suited as a forward, where he could use his stocky size along the boards.
While nobody is suggesting Bergeron could be a legitimate “sniper” in the NHL, having scored 13 goals in 2009-10 and 14 goals in 2008-09 as a defenseman it’s hard to argue that he could be a legitimate 20-goals scorer at forward.
With so many NHL teams desperate for forwards, I am shocked nobody has offered Bergeron a tryout at forward, where I see him being an effective third line player with the ability to contribute on the power play, where he often scores his goals
White has played a little forward in the past...might the Flames ask him to do the same this season???
With the Calgary Flames looking to add some offense up front, you’d think they would take a look at Ian White at forward.
White, who spent some time at forward as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is a gritty player who has tremendous offensive instincts, a decent shot and, of course, the ability to play a little defense.
At 5’10”, 195 pounds, white will not intimidate anyone with his size, but he is more than capable of laying out opposing forwards and, as a defenseman, is used to taking a beating along the boards.
White would look pretty good on the Flames third line where he could join his former Maple Leafs’ linemates Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman at right wing.
Should the Ottawa Senators ask jason Spezza to "Branch out"???
Ok, I gotta admit, moving Jason Spezza to the wing would not be a popular move amongst many NHL fans, but with Spezza struggling to remain an elite centreman, anything is possible.
Ottawa Senator Fans often criticize Spezza for his lack of goal scoring. The trouble is, as a centre, as unpalatable it is for Sens fans to swallow, Spezza will always be more of a set-up man than the pure sniper they so badly long for.
The trouble is, with Mike Fisher and Peter Regin currently your only other options at centre, moving Spezza to the wing where he may have a penchant for shooting the puck a little more, would be suicide for the Sens.
With 23 goals and 57 points in 60 games last season, Sens fans will point to Spezza’s near point-a-game totals as reason to keep him at centre. That said, if he remains at centre, there is no reason to believe he will evolve into that sniper that Ottawa Fans so desperately want Spezza to be.
Tim Thomas would punish opposing forwards if he made the move up front...more than he already does now!!!
Tim Thomas has been dismissed as the Boston Bruins number one goalie in favor of Tuukka Rask, who looks to be the goalie of today and the future for the Bruins.
With NHL general managers looking to sign goalies on the cheap, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli will have a heck of a time dealing Thomas’ $5 million contract to another NHL team.
With that in mind, given his tenacity and compete level, could you imagine if Thomas was given the chance to play forward?
I don’t know about you, but I sure as heck wouldn’t want to go into the corner with that guy!
Brian Campbell would be a huge threat up front...
Blessed with tremendous skating ability and with a cannon for a shot, Brian Campbell is one of the most feared offensive defensemen in the NHL.
Campbell, has heard his fair share of criticism for his lack of expertise in his own end. While I disagree with a lot of the criticism, there is plenty of support for a guy like Campbell making the move from defense to forward, especially in light of how successful former teammate Dustin Byfuglien was at making the transition.
Campbell’s ability to move the puck through the neutral zone allows him to hit the opponent’s zone with a full head of steam, making it difficult for opposing forwards and defensemen to control the offensive-minded Campbell.
His abilities on the power play and penchant for making great passes, makes him a great candidate to fill a role for the Hawks at forward, where he would make a great third liner where his ability to clear the zone and make great passes would be a welcome addition, while his playmaking abilities would help him see plenty of time on the power play.
Sheldon Souray is as tough as they come, which could bode well for him if he was aksed to play forward...
It’s not too often that an NHL team can sign a defenseman with Sheldon Souray’s combination of size and offensive potential.
Devastated by injuries to his hand, shoulder, wrist and with a history of concussions, Souray may benefit from making the move to forward, where he could avoid being pounded on at the end of the boards by opposing forwards and use his huge frame by setting up in front of opposing goaltenders to provide a screen (think Dustin Byfuglien).
Listed at 6’4”, 233 pounds, Souray would be a beast to compete against. Souray would be a nightmare for any NHL defenseman to handle, especially along the boards where Souray could use his size and strength to win battles and punish opposing defensemen and forwards alike.
Souray’s offensive creativity and hard shot could be of benefit for any NHL team looking for a legitimate power forward. Souray would also see a ton of special teams time where his defensive abilities and hard shot could be put to use on the penalty kill and power play, respectively.
At 34 years of age, asking Souray to change positions now may be difficult, but stranger things have happened, right?