Cam Charron of Flames Nation recently brought up the issue of how NHL pundits have been improperly using the term "defensive" and "two-way" forwards to describe players, mostly when it came to deciding Selke Award winners. He discusses how he feels that "the best defensive players" should be ones who play tough assignments and prevent shots sufficiently better than others. Meanwhile, two-way players are those who produce at both end of he ice. Some recent Selke winners appear to fit the latter category more than the former, which is understandable when you think about it. A player who scores more goals like Ryan Kesler or Pavel Datsyuk will get more attention than players like Tom Wandell, Paul Gaustad and Joel Ward who are terrific defensive forwards but will probably never win a Selke unless they have a 20-goal season.
He brings up a great point with this but he does bring up a point at the end of the article where he states that he judges defensive players by their adjusted Fenwick ratings and lists who each Canadian team's best defensive and two-way forwards are. The team's best players through Fenwick would be ones who gave up the least amount of non-blocked shots at even strength with some adjustments made based on where they started their shifts. Two way players are similar only they put up a considerable amount of production in the offenzive zone, as well. In the case of the Hurricanes last season, Chad LaRose had the strongest Fewncik percentage at even strength and I don't know if his 15 goals and 31 points last year is enough to consider him a two-way player. The next closest regular player who took more defensive zone starts was Eric Staal and most would consider him a two-way forward.
I decided to do this only I went by a player's shots allowed per 60 minutes while taking their corsi numbers and zone starts into consideration. Information is available at Behind The Net's stat site, like always. The players who surrendered the fewest shots per 60 minutes at even strength while taking a lot of tough draws are who I would say are the team's best defensive players, those who didn't yield a lot of shots and produced a lot of offense by this are the team's best two-players. I only used players who played 40 of their respective teams games this year to do this because anything lower would cause some pretty odd result. My original plan was to go through each team and state who their best defensive and two-way forwards are but I made some pretty interesting discoveries while doing this research so I thought I would share some of this information instead.
First, Jiri Tlusty was the team's best defensive forward last year. Yeah, that shocked me too when I saw it but he gave up the least amount of shots per 60 minutes (25.4) and started only 45% of his draws in the offensive zone. He doesn't do much to drive the play or carry momentum and ended up on the negative side of the corsi scale because of this but didn't get killed, so technically he was the team's best defensive forward when you go by shots yielded. However, he had less than 10 minutes of ice-time at even strength last year with third/fourth line minutes so that makes things a little clearer. The next best player was LaRose with 28 shots yielded per 60 minutes and he had a very solid corsi rating as well so he could be considered the team's best two-way forward. Eric Staal would have been my original answer if you had asked me yesterday but he gave up the third most shots per 60 minutes out of the Carolina forwards I sampled (31.2) but was able to generate enough offense to off-set some defensive issues he apparently had last year. I found out that a big issue with the Canes last year was that their best "defensive forwards" couldn't create much offense on their own despite not surrendering a lot of shots with tough zone starts. Dwyer, Tlusty and Sutter in particular. Also highlighted a problem that the Canes gave up way too many shots at even strength last season for me to be comfortable. Here's some things I found out about other teams by doing this study.