“Oh wow, that player is a really great defenceman.”
Yeah, but can they defend?
“Oh wow, that defenceman can really go with the puck.”
Yeah, but do they know pass the puck and how to play in their own zone?
“Oh wow, that defenceman has great offensive instincts and transitions the puck very well.”
Yeah, but would you put them out there when you needed to shut down the other teams top line or in the last two minutes of a game up a goal?
There’s more questions than answers right now with regards to want the hockey world want to see in a defenceman.
Can they skate?
Can they think the game?
Can they defend?
Can they pass the puck?
Those are the four questions I ask when evaluating and projecting any young defender.
See how all that other peripheral bull shit seems to go away when you ask the right questions.
Can the player skate, think, move the puck and defend?
If they can do that it doesn’t matter what size they are or how many points they can produce, if they can skate, think the game, move the puck and defend you will obviously have a great defensive prospect on your hands.
Those four critical aspects are the foundation to any quality defender.
Of course you will have your elite level guys that are stronger in one category than the other, but things always balance out for them when they get to higher levels of the game.
The four foundational pillars to becoming a solid defensive prospect need to be embraced and emphasized now more than ever because the meaning and role of a defenceman continues to change.
Don’t believe me, watch every interview with any up and coming defenceman and they will always say the exact same thing.
It might be as hockey cliche as it gets, but it’s the truth.
“I have to make sure I take care of my own first.”
Some would say the stay at home defender is extinct, but there’s still tons of value in that role.
Every young defender wants to be an offensive defenceman like so and so, insert new up and coming NHL defender, but they have no idea what it takes or the work that goes into getting to that point.
It just seems that more and more defencemen don’t understand the game or the position.
In hopes of being that transitional offensive player they lose sight on what the essence of the position really entails.
Can they skate?
Can they think it?
Can they move the puck and Can they defend?
Those are the real questions people should be asking when evaluating and projecting young defencemen.
You want to get noticed as a defender, play to your identity, play the position the right way and do the little things right, because more and more players aren’t.
Flash and dash gets you noticed, but it might be for all the wrong reasons.
Don’t cheat offensively, everyone in the building knows what you’re trying to accomplish, let the game come to you, pick your places, keep it simple and solid and always remember less is more.
Be effective and efficient, but most of all have fun playing the game and position.