According to your definition, what is a defensive forward?
Is Datsyuk a defensive forward for example? Or is he just a forward really good at defense?
There are some forwards considered better than Datsyuk defensively but not on his level offensively. The defense they provide doesn't make up for the offensive edge Datsyuk has over them. Still, are they better ''defensive forwards'' than Datsyuk?
Or is a defensive forward a player mediocre on offense who makes up for that with great defensive play? I think we all have our definition, I'd like to hear them out.
It's really just a matter of wording and how one perceives it..
"Who are the best defensive forwards in the NHL?"
For me personally, I'm going to answer that with names like Datsyuk, Koivu, Hanzal, Zetterberg, Kesler, Bergeron, Sutter, etc.
As you can see, my lists includes players of varying offensive games. When I'm posed that question I simply think of which forwards I consider the best defensively: Which forwards I'd want on the ice to match up against a top player or top line, or out on the ice at the end of the game to hold onto a lead, or to kill a huge penalty.
Obviously at the end of the day guys like Datsyuk who are also good to great offensively won't be known as just defensive forwards. But they are still defensive forwards. They just happen to produce at both ends of the ice. 2-way forwards. But not all 2-way forwards are equal defensively. Hossa is a 2-way forward, but I wouldn't put him in this conversation from a pure defensive standpoint.
Meanwhile, guys who are only good defensively and play a checking line role, there also defensive forwards. They just typically only excel in defensive situations. Defensive specialists.
It's really sad, but in reality there are two definitions to defensive forward:
1) The true definition: a player who has many skills like skating, positioning, angling, IQ, etc that allows them to efficiently reduce opportunities for the other team to score, but doesn't have the skills (in a strong enough capacity) needed to be offensively dangerous at the NHL level.
WPG examples: Hainsey, Burmistrov (currently)
2) The other definition (or misnomer): either a truculent, grinder or good-enough-to-play-in-the-NHL-but-below-average-player who is given defensive duties due to wanting to give the offensive duties to those better suited.
WPG examples: Glass, Slater, Thorburn, Stuart
Both don't have offensive capabilities; the difference is one is efficiently capable of being defensive and the other is just used there due to lack of better options.
Two-way guys are those who are efficient in both being offensively dangerous and reducing other teams opportunities to score. I do not consider two-way players as defensive players in nomenclature.
ps. these "truculent" or "grinder" role-players due have their uses, just are quite often called defensive as a misnomer.
EDIT: oops put defensemen in the examples with forwards... oh well