We’ve seen hockey players change their playing positions before, but it only happens once in a blue moon. I have put together a list of the top five players in the NHL who can change their playing position and will play just as well, if not better, than before.
This list is made up of realistic odds only and there are no NHL superstar players on the list. The highest caliber of player skill on the roster is at an elite level and there’s a big difference between that and superstar status. There are no changes between goalkeepers and players, as it is unlikely to happen.
Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks.
Height: 6′ 5” Weight: 230 lbs. Hand Preference: Right.
Transition: Defense to the right.
Brent Burns has great offensive ability and knows how to use it in an odd man run. He likes to skate deep in the offensive zone if there’s an opening and will probably shoot if he has a good scoring opportunity. He’s a good defenseman, but I think he’s a better power forward on the right wing than defense because of his speed and drive into the net. He has a large size and is physical, which is good for protecting the opposing goalkeeper in front of the net. He also has long range, which means he can protect the puck in the low end of the offensive zone. He is likely to score 25-30 goals if he plays in the right situation in the wing. He has very long reach and has the right set of skills to play power forward.
Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks.
Height: 6′ 2” Weight: 195 lbs. Ride: Right
Transition: Center to defense.
Ryan Kesler is one of the best two-way forwards in the current game. He kills penalties, breaks breaks, finishes controls on him, and does it all at high speed. Speaking of speed, he can carry the puck from end to end like no other player and will create a scoring opportunity almost every time. He is often used as a point man on the power play, especially favoring the left side, which for his part is more effective for 1-players, since he is right-handed. Since he’s so effective in his defensive game, why not have him play defense full time? The defenseman is the player who pushes the puck onto the ice most often, why not have him carry the puck as a defenseman? If he breaks through the defense, he has a chance to score. Since Kesler is so good at the one-plays off the spot, why not have him take the one-plays where most of the one-plays happen, which is the point and the point is occupied by the defenseman?
He is very physical and has good positioning and that makes him suitable to cover the defensive zone. He has won many one-on-one battles as a big, forward-facing defender. So if you can win one-on-one battles across the boards in the offensive zone, it would make more sense for you to play defense so you can win more one-on-one battles in the defensive zone against smaller players rather than fighting against tougher brutes in the Other ending. Ryan Kesler would be a great defenseman if he had the opportunity.
Paul Gaustad of the Nashville Predators.
Height: 6′ 5” Weight: 225 lbs. Ride: Left
Transition: Center to defense.
Paul Gaustad is a two-way center like Ryan Kesler without the great speed and offensive ability. Gaustad has great size and a slump that can be effective if you are a defender. I see Gaustad as a solid defensive specialist who can stop opponents’ forwards effectively. He has always been a control line center who can score 20 to 30 points a season and has been consistent with his stats year after year. He needs a trade very early in his career if we are to have a chance at a lucrative contract and switching to defense is probably the answer.
Dennis Wideman of the Calgary Flames.
Height: 6’0” Weight: 200 lbs. Ride: Right
Transition: Defense to the band.
Dennis Wideman is a very underrated player. He consistently produces points almost every season and his accomplishments on the ice don’t really get noticed enough. Wideman can adapt very well to play as a winger because he can skate, pass and score and he is not lanky like most defensemen. He is one of the few defenders who often takes part in penalty shootouts and delivers when he gets the chance. He sees the ice very well and can execute his strategy successfully. I think he can play on any flank because of his versatility, but I don’t think he’s a good center. His speed is most valuable on the wing and he can make plays, so he’ll most likely be effective in the low end of the offensive zone or in the mid-back. If he plays forward, chances are he’ll get 55-65 points and still be effective in the backcourt.
Marian Hossa of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Height: 6′ 1” Weight: 210 lbs. Ride: Right
Transition: Right to center.
Marian Hossa stands out like a sports car on a motorway, impressing spectators with her dazzling puck-handling skills and taking on players and goalkeepers with her elegant stick work. He doesn’t have the hardest shot, but he is very accurate and can usually pick spots on him with ease. He is agile, fast and has a good two-way game and those are the main reasons why he can play center. I see him being like Pavel Datsyuk in the way he removes the pucks and makes the defenseman look silly with his dangling ability. If Hossa ever plays center, I can see him do what he does best, except he’ll do it more often, which is intercept a pass and take it to the ice to create a scoring opportunity. Hossa will be more prominent on the defensive end as a center because he has a better chance of getting the puck back than on the right flank. The main skill he would need to work on is matchups and with his fast hands, he shouldn’t have much of a problem doing so.