Dustin Byfuglien's rapid transition

Dustin Byfuglien has used lessons learned as a forward with Chicago to help shut down Alex Ovechkin. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Dustin Byfuglien could be considered a diamond in the rough. Watching him move around the ice at his size in his youth, there was an underlying grace in his skating and he seemed to have a genuine enthusiasm for playing. Combine that with very good puck skills and a booming shot, and it was darn near impossible to keep your eyes off him.

But as is often the case with certain types of players, there is a dominant visual trait that ends up taking precedence over other attributes. In Byfuglien's case, it was his size.

Scouts are quick to label a player, and in this case, all the negative words associated with size were applied. He slipped under the radar, but the Chicago Blackhawks saw his underlying talents and believed he eventually could develop into an NHL player. They were correct. Perhaps more so than they ever imagined.

Here we are in 2010-11, and Byfuglien stands as an All-Star defenseman and a top candidate for the Norris Trophy. The foundation for that success was laid long ago when he manned the blue line. But the final key to his development as an elite defenseman came during his tenure as a forward with the Blackhawks.