We see it happen all the time. An NHL player gets drafted and is widely expected to turn into a world class superstar. He's supposed to change his franchise and is supposed to go on to great things.
But for many reasons, a number of highly-touted NHL prospects reach the pros then struggle to grow into an actual superstar. Some of them have a couple of great years but then turn out to be extremely inconsistent players. Other guys just don't develop -- be it injuries, a poor supporting cast or terrible development from the team.
And right now, there are a good amount of NHL players who are still looking to become stars, but they don't have all the pieces to be one. It's not too late for them, but time isn't on their side. With that all said, let's take a look at the 15 NHL Players who are lacking the potential to be the superstars
*stats courtesy of HockeyDB and Hockey Reference*
15 Evander Kane
Evander Kane came into the NHL with plenty of hype, expected to be a perennial 30-goal scorer. Well, he's scored 30 goals once (2011-12),But Kane's off-the-ice troubles, along with his porous attitude in the locker room, have held him back from reaching his full potential in the NHL.
Kane was a good fit with the Winnipeg Jets, but was traded to the Buffalo Sabres two years ago after allegedly clashing with players. There was an apparent incident where Kane showed up in a track suit (instead of a tuxedo), prompting teammate Dustin Byfuglien to toss his clothes into the locker room shower.
The Vancouver native has also had to deal with harassment charges, complicating his ability to focus on the ice. Because of his inability to keep it clean and classy, Kane hasn't been able to blossom into a true superstar.
14 Olli Maatta
It doesn't really Maatta (ha?), if Olli Maatta hasn't grown into a superstar, because he's done enough to help the Pittsburgh Penguins reach back-to-back Stanley Cups. Nonetheless, it's surprising that Maatta hasn't fully developed after a terrific rookie campaign in 2013-14.
That year, Maatta scored nine goals and 29 points in 78 games. But Maatta was limited to just 20 games in 2014-15, and hasn't played more than 67 games in a season since. But even while on the ice, Maatta hasn't been that effective.
He owns a mere Corsi For percentage of just 48.6, and has a porous knack for turning the puck over a lot in his own end. Maatta hasn't done a whole lot to actually contribute to the Penguins' championships. Until/unless he can say healthy and play more responsibly in his own end, Maatta is highly unlikely to turn into a top-pairing blueliner.
13 Anthony Duclair
The New York Rangers drafted Anthony Duclair 80th-overall in 2013, and he quickly turned into one of the top prospects in the game. Duclair was instrumental in helping Team Canada win gold at the 2015 World Junior Hockey Championship. He was traded to the Arizona Coyotes in 2015, as defenceman Keith Yandle went back to the Rangers in the deal.
Duclair was supposed to be the big piece of the trade for Arizona, but he hasn't been able to find any consistency. He scored 20 goals in 2015-16, then had just five in 2016-17 and was often mentioned in the trade rumour mill.
Duclair still has the chance to be an NHL star, but playing on a lowly Coyotes team may simply be all that's holding him back. Duclair just has to continue progressing and maturing at the NHL level, and then he'll hopefully morph into the star we all expect him to be.
12 Jake Virtanen
The 2013-14 season was misery for the Vancouver Canucks. Head coach John Tortorella ran this team into the ground, GM Mike Gillis was fired amidst heavy pressure from the fans, Roberto Luongo was traded and the Canucks missed the playoffs for the first time in six years.
But if there was any silver lining, it was the Canucks getting to land the sixth-overall draft choice, which they used to draft power forward Jake Virtanen. But three years later, and Virtanen has failed to develop into an NHL regular.
Virtanen has been in-and-out of the NHL, constantly alternating between the pros and the Utica Comets of the AHL. Virtanen expressed his frustration with this, and it seems as though his dedication and hard work ethic is lacking right now. Unless Virtanen can put it all together, he may never blossom into an NHL star
11 Connor Hellebuyck
Once among the top NHL goalie prospects, Connor Hellebuyck hasn't shown any signs of turning into a reliable starting netminder. He showed promise for the Winnipeg Jets in 2015-16, winning 13 of 26 games with a .918 save percentage and 2.34 goals against average.
Just when the Jets had hoped to turn it around, Hellebuyck posted a mere 26-19-4 record with a terrible .907 save percentage and awful 2.89 goals against average. Winnipeg went out and signed veteran goalie Steve Mason to push Hellebuyck for the job, suggesting that they don't see the latter as a No. 1 goalie right now.
He's only played two NHL seasons, so it may be too early to deem Hellebuyck as a disappointment. But so far, a lack of goalie fundamentals and consistency have held back Hellebuyck from being a true No. 1.
10 Jonathan Huberdeau
The Florida Panthers appeared to have nailed the third selection in the 2011 NHL draft, taking crafty left winger Jonathan Huberdeau with the pick. But injuries have mounted, and over a half-decade later, we are still waiting for Huberdeau to break to become a superstar. That is if it ever happens, of course.
Huberdeau had a career year in 2015-16, scoring 20 goals and 59 points. Those were all career highs, but those numbers don't exactly scream "superstar". Big things were expected for Huberdeau in 2016-17, but injuries limited him to 31 games -- where he did manage to pot a respectable 10 goals and 26 points.
But Huberdeau is going to have to stay healthy and stay consistent if he wants to be an NHL superstar. As it stands now, he may be better off as an average second-liner throughout his career.
9 Adam Larsson
Adam Larsson was considered a prized prospect in 2011, when the New Jersey Devils drafted him with the fourth selection. Larsson is among the top stay-at-home defencemen in the game, but why is he unlikely to ever win a Norris Trophy?
Well, it's simply because he's not able to score a whole lot. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Swede has just nine goals and 69 points in 274 NHL games. He's never scored more than three goals in a season. But really, Larsson does his job as a defenceman in that he doesn't let teams score on him that much.
Larsson posted 253 hits and 160 blocked shots last season, with a terrific plus-21 rating. But nobody is going to call Larsson a star, simply because he doesn't come with any offensive upside whatsoever.
8 Zach Bogosian
Zach Bogosian was drafted third-overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2008, widely expected to blossom into a top-five blueliner in the NHL. Unfortunately, things haven't gone that way for the big 6-3, 228-pound defenceman.
He did show some promise in his 2009-10 sophomore season, scoring 10 goals and 23 points. But in time split with the Winnipeg Jets and Buffalo Sabres, Bogosian has struggled both offensively and defensively. He owns a career minus-38 rating and has turned the pack over 276 times in 393 career games.
Bogosian's 47.4 career Corsi For percentage is also another indicator of how much he struggles on the ice. He's too much of a liability in his own end and just hasn't been able to regain that scoring touch. It's looking like Bogosian will be nothing more than an average second-pairing blueliner.
7 Dylan Larkin
Drafted 15th-overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 2014, Dylan Larkin turned out to be ready for the NHL much quicker than expected. He scored 23 goals and 45 points in his rookie 2015-16 season, suggesting he was already prepared to be a superstar. But consider that beginner's luck.
Larkin was extremely inconsistent in 2016-17, scoring just 17 goals and 32 points with a horrendous minus-28 rating. Larkin doesn't have that play-making ability like most centres do; he's too one-dimensional as a pure goal-scorer and nothing more. As such, it's tough to see him developing as a superstar.
He will be a very key part of the Red Wings future as they go through a rebuilding stage, but Larkin isn't likely to be a superstar unless he's able to develop more as a set-up man as well.
6 Alex Galchenyuk
The Montreal Canadiens drafted Alex Galchenyuk with the third pick in 2012, but it's been nothing but frustration and inconsistency for the Milwaukee native. It appeared as though Galchenyuk was ready to break out in 2014-15, scoring 20 goals and 46 points. The Habs moved him to centre in the midst of 2015-16, where Galchenyuk potted 30 goals and 56 points.
But Galchenyuk then fell back to earth with 17 goals and 44 points -- though he did miss 21 games. Due to his slow progress as a No. 1 centre, Galchenyuk's name was often in the trade rumour mill until GM Marc Bergevin gave him a three-year extension.
Galchenyuk is still a key player on the Habs roster, and will be critical in helping them fight for championships. But Galchenyuk just hasn't been able to stay consistently good in the NHL. He's likely to be an average second-line centre, and never quite the true superstar we expected him to be.
5 Morgan Rielly
Morgan Rielly is being groomed as the defenceman of the Toronto Maple Leafs, hence why they awarded him a six-year, $30 million extension last year. Though Rielly is still fairly young (just 23 years of age), he's struggled to develop as a top-pairing defenceman in the NHL. He doesn't have an extremely high offensive ceiling, but should soon start totaling up the points as he becomes quarterback of the Leafs' power play.
But right now, it's Rielly's play in his own zone that's concerning. Through is first four NHL seasons, his best plus/minus rating was a -14 back in 2013-14. He's also turned the puck over at least 63 times each year, and owns a mere 49.6 Corsi For percentage in his young career.
If Rielly is to become an NHL superstar, he's going to have to clean it up in his own end of the ice. We'll see if Mike Babcock can make Rielly a reliable shutdown defenceman again.
4 Jordan Eberle
Following his heroics at the 2009 and 2010 World Junior Hockey Championship, expectations were sky-high for Jordan Eberle to become a scoring sensation in the NHL. But through his first seven seasons, Eberle hasn't taken his game to that "wow", level. Perhaps he never will.
He hasn't been a complete bust by any means, but after scoring 34 goals and 76 points in 2011-12, Eberle hasn't been able to regain that star-like form. Now, he's a sure bet to score 20 goals and 50 points in a season, but those aren't exactly jaw-dropping when you see what he did five years ago.
Eberle was traded to the New York Islanders in a salary-dumping move, as Connor McDavid himself was unable to help Eberle score 30 goals again. So who knows, maybe John Tavares can make Eberle a superstar. But I'm not betting on it at this point.
3 Cody Ceci
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound defenceman was once such a highly-regarded prospect that rumours have surfaced that the Ottawa Senators were unwilling to trade him in exchange for Jonathan Drouin. Cody Ceci, the 15th pick in the 2012 draft, is still waiting to have a breakout year...if that ever happens.
It looked as though Ceci was poised for big things in 2015-16, scoring 10 goals and 26 points with a plus-nine rating. But that was under old head coach Dave Cameron, who's system only worried about scoring. Once the defensive master Guy Boucher came in as bench boss, Ceci knew he'd have to accept a more responsible style of play. But he didn't score (two goals and 17 points), and struggled defensively (minus-11 rating).
So Ceci has to learn now how to score more as a second-pairing blueliner. He has to learn how to play better defensively, something he hasn't done well in his first four NHL seasons. Is it too early to say he's unlikely to be a superstar? Probably not.
2 Taylor Hall
The Edmonton Oilers chose sniper Taylor Hall with the top pick in 2010 over flashy centre Tyler Seguin, who's undoubtedly experienced more success in his NHL career thus far. While Hall has scored 20-plus goals five different times, 2013-14 is the only season where he posted star-like numbers.
That year, Hall scored 27 goals and 80 points, but hasn't scored more than 65 points in a season since. The 25-year-old has had plenty of time to show his value as an ultra-scorer, but Hall is posting merely average top-line numbers.
Hall's lack of toughness has made him easy to defend against; he hasn't been able to use his blazing speed to crash to the net like he could in junior. For another, Hall has seen his supporting cast change a lot throughout his career. Unless he finds a reliable No. 1 centre, Hall may never become a great scorer.
1 Nail Yakupov
Back in 2012, there were concerns about the Edmonton Oilers taking Nail Yakupov with the first-overall pick. He apparently had dreams of heading back to Russia, and his attitude was definitely something the Oilers were going to have to work with.
Yakupov showed so much potential in his rookie 2012-13 season (the lockout-shortened 48-game season), scoring 17 goals and 31 points. Oddly enough, Yakupov hasn't matched those 17 goals since. He wasn't able to post top-six numbers, clashed with Oilers management and was traded to the St. Louis Blues last year.
Yakupov scored just three goals and nine points in 40 games for his new team last year. Seeing how he hasn't been able to develop with two teams that possess a lot of young talent, it's quite evident that he doesn't have the superstar potential. It's probably only a matter of time until Yakupov heads over to the KHL.
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