__________________ ďItís embarrassing. Iím embarrassed to be here right now. Itís not even funny. And itís just embarrassing, the way we, you know, the energy we have in the room and the way we approach practices and the way we approach this game. Itís not how youíre going to win any games in this league." - Jean-Sebastien Giguere, April 8 2013
A player who isnt talented enough to contribute offensively at the NHL level but is a good enough athlete to not be a liability. As a winger I dont even see defensive ability as anything more than an evaluation of their overall athleticism. Systems are in place that demand a winger to be in a certain place for it all to come together, its all about getting there at the right time, not much more. As a Centre or Dman, the defensive impact is much more significant.
Guys like Hossa/Datsyuk/Kesler ect are all two way forwards, I think they would be insulted to be called defensive forwards.
A forward that's good enough to play in the NHL, but not good enough to put up points.
there are a lot of nhl forwards that fit this description who are not players you want on the ice opposite of sidney crosby.
john madden is a top quality defensive forward. steve konowalchuk was a top quality defensive forward. jere lehtinen. ulf dahlen. these player regularly are matched up with and shutdown all star opposing forwards. they are capable of turning the game around and scoring on those players as well for 15-20 goals a season.
datsyuk or fedorov are allstars because they are elite at both jobs.
In my opinion, people are making a mistake applying it to people like some unalterable characteristic like eye color. Instead, the "defensive forward" is a role, in which the forward is asked to play a predominately defensive game - shutting down the other team's top line, for instance. In contrast, a two-way forward is asked to play strong defense AND offense.
It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with inherent abilities or strengths - so a two-way forward (i.e. Datsyuk, Kopitar) may actually be a better defender than many "defensive" forwards. And because it is a role, a player can move into or out of this role over time or based on circumstances. For instance, a good two-way forward may change to a defensive forward later in his career, or a defensive forward is traded to a low-skill team and is asked to contribute more offense and become a two-way player.
I see a defensive forward as someone whose main role is defensive play. Generally they will be well above average defensively, but average at best offensively. Players who are very good both defensively and offensively are IMO better described as 2-way forwards.