Take a team-by-team look at the NHL’s biggest underachievers this season.
Sometimes, try as you might, things just don’t go your way. That holds true in the hockey world, too, where even the best efforts can lead to the worst results. With that cheery thought in mind, here’s a team-by-team look at the most disappointing players in the NHL this season. Hang in there, guys, hopefully there’s better days ahead.
ANAHEIM DUCKS: Corey Perry
Like just about everyone else in Anaheim, Perry has been bitten by the injury bug this season and missed 11 games. But he hasn’t done nearly enough to justify his $8.625-million salary when he’s been in the lineup, either. (On that note, he’s under contract for three more seasons beyond the current campaign.) Perry’s on pace for 14 goals, which would be the second-lowest total of his career – he scored 13 times in 56 games as a rookie in 2005-06.
ARIZONA COYOTES: Max Domi
Three goals in 52 games? That doesn’t cut it for a core player and top-six forward, even if he is chipping in assists.
BOSTON BRUINS: Matt Beleskey
It looked like Tuukka Rask for a while, but then he and the rest of the Bruins got red-hot in late November and they haven’t looked back. If they did, they’d see Beleskey in the rearview mirror. The one-time UFA prize was waived and demoted to the AHL in mid-December. He’s under contract for two more years at $3.8 million per season.
BUFFALO SABRES: Kyle Okposo
Coming off a frightening health scare as he entered the 2017-18 campaign, Okposo started slowly with one assist in his first nine games and he only had two goals in his first 20 outings. The good news is, he’s come on strong of late, with three goals and 11 points in a nine-game span entering February. He needs to keep it going, considering he’s being paid $6 million this season and he’s under contract for five more years. The Sabres want a lot more bang for that buck.
CALGARY FLAMES: Troy Brouwer
The game has gotten faster, but bump-and-grind Brouwer has not.
CAROLINA HURRICANES: Scott Darling
A great backup in Chicago and a feel-good story when he signed on to take over as Carolina’s No. 1, it’s been a painful season-long struggle for Darling. He was the worst starter in the league in the first half, prompting the Hurricanes to give the job back to Cam Ward.
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: Brent Seabrook
Heart-and-soul Hawks defender was a healthy scratch for a game in early January. He’s 32, he’s logged a lot of hard miles, and he’s under contract for five more years at more than $6.8 million per seasons. The math doesn’t add up.
COLORADO AVALANCHE: Colin Wilson
The surprising Avs don’t really have anyone who qualifies as a true disappointment this season, but they’d surely like to see a little more offense out of Wilson.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: Cam Atkinson
After three straight 20-plus goal seasons, Atkinson ramped it up to 35 last year and signed a seven-year extension worth more than $40 million. In other words, he should have a lot more than eight goals by this point in the schedule, even if he did miss a month due to injury.
DALLAS STARS: Martin Hanzal
If anyone tells you that Hanzal is so hot right now, they’re lying. (Related: Avoid Zoolander 2 at all costs.)
DETROIT RED WINGS: Darren Helm
He takes the bullet for the Wings’ too-long list of overpaid veterans with too many years left on their too-rich deals.
EDMONTON OILERS: Oscar Klefbom
After trending up the past few seasons, Klefbom has taken a step backwards this year. He’s certainly not the only Oilers player to do so, and he’s still just 24 so you can bet he’ll get back on track.
FLORIDA PANTHERS: Radim Vrbata
The last time the Panthers brought in a veteran winger from the Czech Republic, Jaromir Jagr revitalized the franchise. That’s a tough act to follow, and Vrbata hasn’t been able to do it. Three of his five goals this season came in one game, and he’s managed just three points in 23 games since early November.
LOS ANGELES KINGS: Jeff Carter
Obviously, this is more about the fact Carter has skated in just six games this season – due to a lacerated ankle tendon sustained on Oct. 18 – than a comment on his ability. The Kings hope to get him back in the lineup, but there’s no real timetable yet.
MINNESOTA WILD: Joel Eriksson Ek
Hate to pick on a rookie, but Eriksson Ek arrived in Minnesota with Calder Trophy buzz. That quieted down quickly and he’s managed but one goal in 45 games.
MONTREAL CANADIENS: Jonathan Drouin
The pick here is Drouin, but take your choice from any number of underachieving Habs players.
NASHVILLE PREDATORS: Nick Bonino
Nobody truly fits the bill in Nashville, but you’d like to see a little more out of Bonino. He’s one of the rare regulars on the Preds who has a negative plus/minus rating.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS: Travis Zajac
He missed the first six weeks of the season with an injury, and he hasn’t really gotten untracked. It took him 10 games before he recorded a point, and he’s just coming off another 10-game pointless streak. So there’s some symmetry, at least.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS: Thomas Greiss
Pick a goalie, any goalie. Or if you prefer, pick a defenseman, any defenseman. The Islanders can score, but even more than that, they can be scored upon. Greiss has the worst goals-against average and save percentage among netminders who have appeared in at least 20 games this season – and it’s not even that close.
NEW YORK RANGERS: Jimmy Vesey
Speed to burn, but he has yet to live up the hype coming out of college. He’s mired in a one-point-in-11-games stretch, and it’s not the only dry spell Vesey has endured this season. You want him to turn the corner, if only to stick the ‘Jimmy Hockey’ nickname on him.
OTTAWA SENATORS: Craig Anderson
Anderson tops the list of underperforming players in Ottawa. At least the Sens goalie is staying true to his rotating good-season-bad-season career arc. If this year is any indication, he’s going to win the Vezina Trophy next season.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: Jori Lehtera
The Brayden Schenn trade looked bad when it happened, and it looks a lot worse now.
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: Carl Hagelin
Today’s NHL is a fast man’s game. Hagelin is a fast man. So how come just a handful of goals?
SAN JOSE SHARKS: Joel Ward
Speaking of wingers with just a handful of goals…
ST. LOUIS BLUES: Jake Allen
Consistency, thy name is not Jake Allen. And that should be worrisome for a team that’s otherwise a top-tier Stanley Cup contender.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: Ryan Callahan
You have to dig pretty deep to unearth a disappointment in Tampa Bay. Callahan, relegated to the depths of a loaded Lightning lineup, comes as close as anyone. Whatever, he’ll probably make up for it in the playoffs.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: Leo Komarov
Like the Lightning, the Leafs don’t really have anyone who qualifies. But Komarov is a winger with just a handful of goals, and there’s a precedent for that on this list, so lovable ‘Uncle Leo’ is the pick.
VANCOUVER CANUCKS: Sam Gagner
He’s usually good for 15 goals and 40-plus points, and he’s coming off a career-best season in Columbus when he had 18 and 50. This year, it’s looking more like 10 and 35. This despite the fact he’s one of the few Canucks forwards who’s in his prime at 28, and he had a great opportunity when center Bo Horvat went down with injury. Vancouver needs him to be a top-six guy, but he’s 10th among the team’s forwards in ice time.
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS: Vadim Shipachyov
The Greatest Expansion Hockey Story Ever Told doesn’t have a lot of less-than candidates, so we’ll go with the free agent flop who went back to Russia after three NHL games.
WASHINGTON CAPITALS: Andre Burakovsky
Twenty-two-year-old with breakout potential but breakdown results.
WINNIPEG JETS: Steve Mason
Remember when they brought him because there were concerns about Connor Hellebuyck?