The NHL is an evolving at a rapid pace. While the game has been shifting in a much different direction as of late, speed and skill have begun to be the determining factors on rosters that are able to compete. With the ever-decreasing role for enforcers in today's lineups, many long-time pros like Brandon Prust are being demoted to the minor leagues and many others are having to find work overseas in foreign countries. This article will rank the 15 players who will soon be without a job.
Now I must say that this is not necessarily a knock against the players' careers, it is more so due to the fact that keeping a permanent spot in a lineup in today's NHL is much more difficult than it was back then and tends to be in the favour of youth -- forcing the veterans to step away from the game at a much younger age. Many of the individuals listed have had successful careers and are just ready to retire while some have managed to float around the league for a long time. Now without further ado, here's the list of 15 current NHLers who will most likely be jobless in a year.
15 Chris Thorburn
Chris Thorburn is not someone I would mess with; he is currently among the league leaders in penalty minutes with 93 -- showing that he has a big-body presence on the ice. However on a down note, in 54 games this season, the 33-year old has notched just four points (three goals, one assist) while averaging only about seven minutes of icetime a game. With the veteran never surpassing the 20-point mark in any of his 11 seasons, it seems unrealistic for the slumping veteran to randomly start pouring it on and set new career highs at this stage of his career.
Because of that, and the fact that his three-year contract that paid him $1.2 million annually expires at the end of this season, it seems highly unlikely that the Jets will renew his contract. Not to mention Winnipeg owns a strong crop of young talent -- making it seem inevitable that Thorburn is not a part of Winnipeg's future plans.
14 Michal Rozsival
At the weathered age of 38, Michal Rozsival has enjoyed much success in Chicago during his career -- winning two Stanley Cups with the franchise back in 2013 & 2015. Currently signed to his second one-year deal at $600,000, the Hawks seem to be skeptical and only sign Rozsival to short-term contracts in the anticipation that his age will soon catch up with him and he will be unable to keep up with the play.
With Rozsival set to become a UFA this off season, it would not come as a surprise if Chicago let him walk as he has been a healthy scratch on a few occasions this season and is on the bottom pairing. With the two Cups already to his name, it wouldn't be surprising is Rozsival called it a career after this season.
13 Micheal Haley
Micheal Haley is an extremely feisty forward who is exceedingly competitive. He instigates the play and can get in your face ... whether you like it or not. He's not afraid of dropping the gloves when he needs to give his teammates a shot of energy. However, as mentioned earlier, the role of the enforcer is decreasing in the NHL, which makes some think that his time in the NHL could run out soon unless he begins to contribute more consistently on the offensive side of things.
In spite of that, the 30-year old is currently in the midst of his most productive season ever, chipping in 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in 51 games -- but is more recognized for his 110 penalty minutes.
12 Tanner Glass
After bouncing around in between the New York Rangers and their minor-league affiliate, Tanner Glass has surprisingly tallied two points (one goal, one assist) in six games this season. Don't be fooled by his recent, unexplained lack of production though; there is a good chance that he won't finish with another point for the rest of the season. Glass' highest season in terms of point production is 16.
Glass is currently signed at $1.45 million a season and is set to become a free agent by the end of the year. One can speculate that a frequent-free-agent team, like the Devils, may consider signing him to a one-year deal; while many would assume this is likely the end of the road for the pesky forward.
11 Jhonas Enroth
Simply stated, Jhonas Enroth hasn't gotten a win yet this year. It's been a tough career for the small-structured net minder as he has played on 5 different teams in the last 2 years - well, sort of... he has yet to see a single game for the Ducks this season. Before being traded to the Ducks, the Leafs signed him to a one-year deal this offseason in which he failed to perform and lived up to his reputation as a losing goaltender -- with his most wins in a season coming in the 2014-2015 year when he notched 13 wins in 37 games -- and notched a lackluster .872 save percentage.
Between Enroth being one of the league's smallest goaltenders, his contract expiring, and the NHL cracking down on smaller goalies, it appears that Enroth could be without NHL-level work next season.
10 Jared Boll
Jared Boll is one of the grittier guys in the NHL. In 566 NHL games, Boll has tallied 1,277 minutes in penalties -- not bad. Unfortunately, that has been an underlying factor that his point production is as low as it is, with 65 total-career points. So far, he has only scored three points this season. His highest tally of points in a season is 14 (four goals, 10 assists), leaving many to assume that he will not be surpassing that total anytime soon.
Although he's currently signed through to next year, there's a very slim chance that he will be re-signed afterwards and will most likely continue playing hockey in the American Hockey League.
9 Tom Sestito
Tom Sestito is a big lad who isn't afraid to mix things up, coming in at 6"5 and 228 pounds. Not known for scoring goals (or really having to do with any form of offense whatsoever) Sestito is an in-your-face player who will do everything in his power to make sure you know he's on the ice. However, with his limited offensive tools, it seems unrealistic that he will be in the NHL much longer.
I wouldn't go as far as calling this his most notable play as of late, but he gave a blindside-hit from behind on Toby Enstrom in which he received a four-game ban. Not exactly a "highlight" in the truest sense, but one for him anyways.
8 Brandon Mashinter
Now I know that many people are going to ask this but yes, Brandon Mashinter is still in the NHL. Now it's obvious that unless you follow the Blackhawks religiously, then there's a good chance you have no idea who he is. While he has been relatively productive in the AHL, he just can't seem to keep a consistent tone in the National League, as he has only five points in 64 career games.
As he currently plays for the Rockford Icehogs at the age of 28, Mashinter will most likely remain in the AHL for the better part of his career.
7 Cody McLeod
Cody McLeod can be considered one of the grittiest guys in the league. With that missing-tooth smile, the Predators' forward has notched six points (five goals, one assist) and 116 PIMs in 52 games this season. Not known for his abilities with the puck, McLeod has always tended to do majority of his talking with his fists as he has tallied 1,423 PIMs in 683 games during his career. Unfortunately with the rate at which enforcers are leaving the NHL, many would speculate that his time may be up.
McLeod is now hanging on to one of his last opportunities to win a Stanley Cup, being with Nashville, and with his salary of $1.25 million, there are far better, younger depth options out there on the market to replace him.
6 Mike Ribeiro
With Mike Ribeiro's name constantly popping up in headlines for all the wrong reasons, the Predators finally decided that his flagging play wasn't sufficient to make up for his poor attitude, ultimately shipping the 37-year old to the minors. Ribeiro has always been in the spotlight, and unfortunately, no good ever came of it. Although he used to be an effective player back in the day, it appears that he wasted his talent and won't be returning to the NHL anytime soon.
It's weird to imagine that the shootout artist is playing hockey in the AHL now. One wouldn't be surprised to see Ribeiro completely drop hockey all together once his contract's up this offseason.
5 Chris Neil
Chris Neil has enjoyed over 1,000 games with the Ottawa Senators, but now, it's time for him to step away from the game he loves when his contract expires at the end of this season. Neil has always been an in-your-face player and will rarely ever decline an invitation to engage in fisticuffs. He currently has three points (one goal, two assists) in 52 games this season.
Neil has been on the decline in his last few seasons as he has not passed the 20-point plateau since 2011-2012; he's 37-years old now, so it does makes sense. It would make perfect sense for the grinder to retire from the franchise that drafted him 161st overall in 1998.
4 Shawn Thornton
A once-effective agitator, Shawn Thornton has been irrelevant these past few seasons — with his only relevance coming from YouTube videos of him chirping the opposing teams. While he is a good role player and will often be found stirring the pot on the ice, it is evident that by looking at the grit grinder’s point total this season (a lacklustre 4 points — 2 G, 2A — in 46 games) it is obvious that he doesn't have much of a place in today’s NHL.
At the dilapidated age of 39 and an expiring contract at the end of this season, you would be hard pressed to argue against him having a job in the NHL next season.
3 David Bolland
It's hard to believe that a player who hasn't played at all this year has been traded, yet here we are, talking about David Bolland. After being a crucial part of the Blackhawks two Stanley Cups, it seemed that as soon as Bolland scored the Stanley-Cup-winning goal in 2013, his career took a turn for the worse, as he scored just five points in 25 games during his last NHL season in 2015.
Florida bid high on the free agent and locked him up for a contract that he couldn't live up to. After devastating injuries to his back and ankles, Bolland has the potential to never play in the NHL again.
2 David Clarkson
Not too often does a player coming off of a 30-goal season follow up with half the total. In fact, after his 30-goal year, Clarkson managed just 32 goals over the next 4 seasons. Known as a grit grinder who will always have his teammates' back, the pressure of his contract and injuries seemed to ruined the career of the once-productive Clarkson, to the point of the Maple Leafs trading the forward for a player (Nathan Horton) who is most likely done with playing hockey.
You have got to have sympathy for the forward after two atrocious seasons in Toronto and another tough one in Columbus, but unfortunately, Clarkson will forever be remembered as one of (if not THE) worst contract signings in Maple Leaf history.
1 Jordin Tootoo
Jordin Tootoo is the epitome of grit. With his penchant for not wearing a visor, getting into fights frequently, and a low ATOI, that my friends, is textbook grit. While he has minimal offensive upside, his presence on the ice is indeed felt; and there's a good chance the opposing team stays on their best behaviour or else they will have to answer to this feisty forward. Tootoo has enjoyed a lengthy NHL career with over 700 games played and would lose no respect for stepping away from the game.
At the mature age of 34 with two points in 45 games this season, it would come as no surprise if Tootoo never played another NHL game again after this season.