Let's face it... all NHL players are capable of playing defence. They just make choices as to where they want to expend their energies. If you roll back to the time when Spezza realized that in order to play for Team Canada he had to play defence as well as offence... Bingo!!! all of a sudden he was back-checking like a fiend... At the time it was quite impressive to watch how he had transformed himself.
So, he and others are capable of playing defence. They just choose to spend their energy doing what is the most fun... and unfortunately, what ends up paying them the highest salaries... scoring or setting up GOALS.
I like players who are great defensively as well as offensively. For me, there is no such thing as a great one-way player. When Steve Yzerman started out, he was the same kind of player Spezza is. Then he met Scotty Bowman, and Scotty told him "Play defence as well or you don't play." Yzerman became one of the best all-around players.
So it's up to coaches and management to insist that forwards, and offensive-minded defencemen play defence as well. When Jacques Martin first took a look at Spezza, he did not like what he saw, and he told Spezza to learn to play defence if he wanted to play regularly. Well... we were so starved for offence that we rode Martin out of town.
In the end during the playoffs offence-only players are a huge liability because whatever they do is high risk. They are in on alot of scoring at both sides of the ice... NOT GOOD!!!
We will see what the addition of Gonchar does to this team, and whether we can survive with a pretty much offence-only mind set.