NHL Defensive Minded Prospects Are Not Valued In Comparison to Dynamic Scorers

Tommy GCorrespondent IMay 12, 2009

VANCOUVER, BC - JUNE 22:  Rod Brind'Amour of the Carolina Hurricanes poses with the Selke Trophy backstage at the the NHL TV Awards Show at the Westin Grand on June 22, 2006 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images for NHL)
Whenever I read prospect analyses and biographies I tend to cringe.  It’s especially unbearable when the player in question is a forward. 

I find it ignorant to think that the only value a player has is his ability to put the puck in the net.

Every time a player is drafted, the first thing that’s examined is his point production.  Sure, critics pass judgment on his two-way play and his face-off acumen, if we’re talking about a centre.

But what if that player's best asset is his defensive skills?  Are we just going to assume that this young chap is not valuable?

Defense is a very important aspect in the game of hockey, particularly in today’s NHL where power plays are a dominate factor.

I would love to draft and develop a player like New Jersey’s John Madden.  When he started playing he wasn’t a great scorer, but he could skate like the wind and shadow any player in the league.

Many people would argue that you can find tons of veterans that can play that role.

I disagree because I’m not talking about role players.  Sure, you can find veterans who can stick to the system and play dependable hockey.

I’m talking about young players that can step into the league and shut down opposing scorers like nobody’s business. 

And that’s their skill, that’s it.  They eventually learn to score about 25 goals and add 25 assists, but their value is their defense.

Players like John Madden, Mike Peca, Jere Lehtinen, Kris Draper, Esa Tikkanen, Jan Erixon, Guy Carbonneau, and Bob Gainey don’t grow on trees.

They had an intangible skill that’s just as important as producing hundred point seasons.

I feel like screaming when I hear that certain forwards are great two-way checkers, but they’re not ready because their scoring ability is poor.

If they’re responsible two-way players then let them play.  Maybe that’s the most you’ll ever get out of them. 

Don’t just let these players disappear into obscurity like many misunderstood prospects.