David Legwand was seen as a pure offensive talent, but was made to concentrate on his defensive game when arriving in Nashville. He's turned into one of the better young defensive centers in the league.
I wonder how many players have successfully switched from Defense to Forward, or vice-versa after entering the NHL? I know Red Kelly switched from D to C; likewise (and not quite on par with Red Kelly) I know Bill Berg switched from D to LW. I guess Dandenault works too. Someone already mentioned Wendel Clark. I'd be interested to see other posters add to this list.
Many of the third and fourth liners in the NHL were good scorers earlier. But then reality hits and they realize they don't quite have the offensive skill to make it in the NHL and they have to slightly reinvent themselves. These days even the skill players have to do that to some extent. But the best way to get a good grinder is to draft a good overall player with a good work ethic.
The exception is the enforcers. Often they don't get drafted because of their great hockey skill.
Just as a side note: Madden claims that he could be a 40 goal scorer in todays NHL if he put his mind to it, but getting 20 and playing great defence is much more important to the team. Take that for what it is worth.
Talk is cheap. He can be effective but i'd have to see him do it first.
There's something I've been wondering about for quite some time which is kinda related to this thread.
Do NHL players allready play their roles in the minors? By this I mean do minor league checkers develop into NHL checkers? Or is it more the case where minor league checkers are simply not good enough and all the point producers are called up to the NHL, the worst of which become checkers?
To put a name to this question to make it clearer:
1. Does a guy like Kelly Buchberger put up offensive stats throughout the different levels of his career?
2. Or is a guy like KB a checker through the many different levels of his career?
Mike Ricci would be my choice. I saw his interview with Jim Hughson on Sportsnet's Snapshots, Ricci talked about what it was like to go from a goal scorer in junior to a checker in the NHL. Good interview.