Now that November has rolled around and hockey has been back for almost a month now, we have a much better idea of where many teams in the NHL, and their players, are heading this year. The Canadiens have surprised everyone by going starting out the season without a regular season loss through October (8-0-1) after missing the playoffs last year, and the Oilers finally look like they actually have a professional hockey team on the ice and not their AHL affiliate.
Every team has their ups and downs, and every team has different strategies when it comes to winning, but one thing every hockey team are good forwards throughout all four lines, and despite all the talent in the NHL, you’d be surprised how difficult it could be to find 12 good forwards to make up a team.
It’s easy to look at a roster and quickly narrow down who the best player on the team is, but is it as easy to point out the worst forward? Taking everything into consideration, we break down every NHL roster and proudly bring you the worst forward on every single NHL team from Anaheim to Winnipeg. And there are some BAD ones.
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30 Anaheim Ducks – Ryan Garbutt
At 31 years old, Ryan Garbutt is in his prime in the NHL, although I don’t think his prime will ever take him past the fourth line. The Canadian who hails from Winnipeg is in his first year in Anaheim. He was traded by the Chicago Blackhawks after gaining only six points in 43 appearances in return for Jiri Sekac. Sekac, if you remember, was a tryout player brought in by the Canadiens, who ended up being traded to Anaheim for another failed Hab, Devonte Smith-Pelly.
Garbutt also scored his first NHL goal against Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.
Garbutt hasn’t started the season too well with the Ducks this season. In nine games this season, he centre has netted just one goal and one assist. The Ducks in general haven’t looked too sharp this season, so maybe it can be a good chance for Garbutt to turn it up a notch and rise through the ranks.
29 Arizona Coyotes – Ryan White
White was first introduced to the NHL by the Montreal Canadiens after being selected 66th overall in the 2006 draft. The fact that he’s still playing in the NHL 10 years later is quite impressive considering he’s not the most skillful player. However, he plays with a lot of heart, scores goals in opportune moments by constantly hustling, and understands his role of getting under people’s skin. His offensive productivity has always been his downside however, with only 22 goals in 248 games played.
After Montreal, the team he played the longest with, he had a two-year stint with the Flyers before ultimately signing with the Arizona Coyotes for the new season. The Coyotes are in rebuild mode, and have some nice pieces lined up on offense with Max Domi and Anthony Duclair developing in the NHL.
28 Boston Bruins – Matt Beleskey
For the big, bad Bruins, Matt Beleskey has had a rough start to the season to say the least, going pointless in his first eight games, with a minus-7 rating and only 11 shots on goal. Beleskey has never really put up outstanding numbers although he remained a somewhat consistent scorer over the years. He had 22 goals in the year before joining the Bruins and 15 last year in Boston. In 409 NHL games, the left winger has a total of 72 goals.
If the start of the season is any indication, Beleskey and the Bruins may be in for a rough year. Without a single point thus far, Beleskey has by far been the worst forward for the Bruins, especially considering how much potential a player like Beleskey has. He’s still under contract in Boston for quite a while, so hopefully Beleskey can pick up the pace by the end of the campaign.
27 Buffalo Sabres - Derek Grant
Derek Grant, who is surely unknown to you, plays centre for the Buffalo Sabres at the moment. He was drafted 119th overall in the 2008 draft but has only played 47 NHL games since then, seven of those coming with his newest team after having a successful training camp. After completing his studies and playing for Michigan State University, Grant signed his first entry-level contract in the NHL with the Ottawa Senators, and also played for the Flames before ending up in Buffalo.
Grant still hasn’t experienced the excitement of his first NHL goal, and is still looking to break the deadlock with his new team without much luck thus far. Still the season is young and the Sabres have been rocked by a few injuries, which means it should be any day now Grant nets his first. He’ll still be the worst forward on the team though.
26 Calgary Flames – Alex Chiasson
We move on to the Calgary Flames, who I personally had high hopes for this season. They had Johnny Gaudreau sign an extension keeping him in Calgary for the next few years, and also added a good netminder in Brian Elliott to the squad. Despite a rough start, the team seems to be getting it together slowly but surely in recent games. Another player they added in the offseason was Alex Chiasson from the Ottawa Senators after they clashed over a contract dispute. The Flames decided to sign the right winger to a one-year, $800,000 contract, and so far this season I don’t think they have any reason to renew it.
Chiasson has just one goal and two assists in 10 games this season with the Flames, on pace for about the same numbers he had last year, when he finished with eight goals and six assists for the Senators. Numbers like that will definitely limit him to the fourth line in Calgary and will potentially make him their worst forward.
25 Carolina Hurricanes - Joakim Nordstrom
The Hurricanes are at the top of the list of teams with some of the worst forwards in the NHL, currently sitting dead last in the Metropolitan division. In a long list of mediocre forwards, Joakim Nordstrom is the one that stuck out the most. To give you some background on the Swedish centreman, he was selected 90th overall by the Blackhawks, but was eventually traded to the Hurricanes along with Kris Versteeg for salary-cutting purposes. In his first season with the Hurricanes, he finished the year with 24 points in 71 games. Not the best numbers but definitely not the worst on a struggling Canes side.
This year doesn’t seem like it’ll be as successful for the 24-year-old, who has no goals in eight games thus far this year, not to mention the Hurricanes are sitting dead last in the Eastern Conference. I not only expect him to be one of the worst forwards for the Canes, but I imagine he’ll get sent to the minors at some point when the Hurricanes are looking to shake things up.
24 Chicago Blackhawks – Jordin Tootoo
It’s a little more difficult to choose the worst forward on a team like the Chicago Blackhawks, who are stacked up front. Even the players without the obvious talent all seem to have an important role on the ice, an ode to the great coaching job Joel Quenneville has done on this team since he first joined. I therefore choose Jordin Tootoo as the worst forward on the team, and here’s why. At 33 years old, Jordin Tootoo isn’t the player he used to be. The first Inuk player to ever play in the NHL, Tootoo has mostly been used as an agitator, and a damn good one. Tootoo has amassed 982 PIMs in over 600 NHL games. His newest team is now the Blackhawks, after having last played for the Devils.
In nine games this season Tootoo has no goals and no assists. Quenneville has been known to sign players that used to make an impact for short contracts, and Tootoo seems to be one of those players that just didn’t end up working out.
23 Colorado Avalanche – Rene Bourque
Currently a new member of the Colorado Avalanche, Bourque has played for six different NHL teams in his 11-year career thus far. The reasoning behind the number of teams he’s played for come from the fact that he may be the most inconsistent player in the NHL. Although he’s never been particularly effective for any team he’s played for, there have been times where the Canadian surprised the NHL and would go on great point streaks, showing us his potential if he ever found consistency.
Unfortunately, Bourque, who was never drafted, never found consistency, which is why he started this year with his sixth NHL team. In five games this year, Bourque has one goal thus far. Because he’ll be a no-show most nights, I consider him one of the worst forwards on this Avalanche side.
22 Columbus Blue Jackets – Sam Gagner
I bet you didn’t know that Sam Gagner was actually drafted in the first round of the 2007 draft, sixth overall by the Edmonton Oilers. Seems ridiculous now, but remember this was Edmonton 10 years ago, who might’ve had the worst management in the history of the league, resulting in a decade of pain for Oilers fans. The Oilers had Ryan McDonagh, Max Pacioretty, Logan Couture and Jakub Voracek all available, and yet they went for Sam Gagner.
Nothing against Sam Gagner, but he was never first round potential and after 10 years, we can see that he never put up first round numbers. The Jackets started the year pretty rocky, and Gagner hasn’t been too impressive as of late. When he was traded from the Coyotes to the Flyers in 2015, Coyotes GM Don Maloney said of the trade that Sam Gagner "couldn’t play centre at the NHL level." Yikes.
21 Dallas Stars – Ales Hemsky
The Czech native Ales Hemsky is my first choice for worst forward on Dallas team with no shortage of talented forwards. Hemsky had most of his success as a player in Edmonton, the team that selected him first overall in the 2001 draft. His best season by far was in 2005-06, when the Oilers reached the Cup Final and Hemsky had 77 points. It’s been a steady decline for Hemsky the past few years, especially since he’s left the Oilers.
Now in his third year as a member of the Stars, I think this will be Hemsky’s worst season yet despite coming off a decent campaign last year. The 33-year-old has no goals so far this season, although in his defense he’s only played one game and will be sidelined for the next five to six months anyway because of recent surgery.
20 Detroit Red Wings – Steve Ott
We move on to the Detroit Red Wings, who everyone though was going to have an awful season this year and finally miss the playoffs. Well the Wings had other plans, starting the season with six wins in 10 games and looking very good doing it, with players like Thomas Vanek and Mike Green trying to revive their careers. Ott is another player who was brought in, to try and give the Wings much more grit, because that’s what Ott does, he gets under your skin. Apparently he used to learn key phrases in different languages to use on the ice and annoy players who spoke different languages.
Ott is a veteran that has been in the league since 2002. He used to be offensively potent for a disturber in his time with the Dallas Stars, but as his career moved forward his role became clearer. In his first few games this season with the Wings, Ott has yet to score a goal.
19 Edmonton Oilers – Anton Lander
Anton Lander was selected by the Oilers, 40th overall in the 2009 draft. He’s been in and out of the minors since then, although he looks set to start the year with the Oilers this time out of training camp and hopefully finish it in Edmonton as well. Lander is coming off a very disappointing showing in the NHL last year, where he played 61 games but only managed to amass three points. I mean Auston Matthews had more points in one game than Lander had in 61 games last year.
For this reason, I think he’ll be the worst forward on the team this year. The young Swede has no goals in eight games this year and seems poised to repeat his offensive numbers from last year. With the Oilers finally looking good defensively and with all the talent they have up front, I think Anton Lander will be the undisputed worst forward on the Edmonton Oilers.
18 Florida Panthers - Jared McCann
Even if McCann wanted to have a worse start with his new team, it would be impossible. The 20-year-old has played in all nine games so far for the Florida Panthers, has no goals and no assists, and has a big fat 0 across almost all other categories as well. His stats this year are as effective as a player sitting up in the press box, which means that he really hasn’t made any type of impact with his new team.
McCann’s numbers are not what everyone expected for the 4th pick overall in the 2012 draft. In his first season last year with the Canucks, he put up 18 points in 69 games, decent numbers for the young McCann who was only 19. But at that age and with that talent you hope to see an increase in productivity year by year, and so far it just doesn’t look good for McCann.
17 Los Angeles Kings – Jordan Nolan
Selected 186th overall by the team he still plays with, Nolan is a true King thick and thin, having been there from the very beginning of his career, including the two Stanley Cup wins. Nolan has never scored more than 10 goals in a season, and although there is more to his game under Darryl Sutter than just offensive production, he has to be one of the worst forwards on the team this year. He had zero goals in 55 games last year and has started with zero goals and no assists in four games with the Kings this year.
It’s been a very long time since Nolan has scored a goal, and on a Kings side that has been struggling as of late, they definitely don’t look towards Nolan to make a difference. I think he’ll end up spending most of the season in the minors unless some other team finds a plan for him.
16 Minnesota Wild – Zac Dalpe
Most of you probably haven’t heard of Zac Dalpe, who was born in Paris. Not Paris Paris, but Paris, Ontario, which is misleading to say the least. The 26-year-old hasn’t had much playing time in the NHL, just 128 games, with 11 goals to show for. He was originally picked up 45th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes, who eventually traded him to the Canucks. Minnesota was already Dalpe’s fourth team when he joined in 2015, although he only played two games with them in that season.
Dalpe hasn’t been looking too good to start the season with only one goal in nine games. He’ll definitely be limited in ice time on the fourth, maybe third line for the remainder of the year if everything stays as is, but don’t look for any type of breakout from Dalpe.
15 Montreal Canadiens – Brian Flynn
The Canadiens have always been a team in recent years that has struggled to find goals, often relying heavily on the heroics of their star goaltender, Carey Price. This year has started off a little differently however, with the Canadiens finding more offense from players that don’t usually contribute as much. However, one forward that’s a little late to the party or just doesn’t want to join it at all is Brian Flynn. With no goals in seven contests this season, Flynn’s days could already be numbered.
Flynn has played all of his hockey for Buffalo and then for Montreal, managing 21 goals in his career so far. This year, with the Canadiens getting contributions from just about everywhere, look for Flynn to be the worst forward for the Canadiens. Although I don't expect Flynn to put up big numbers, I know that he puts his heart into the game night in and night out, so hopefully that attitude will rub off on the rest of the team as well.
14 Nashville Predators - Colton Sissons
We now move on to the Music City, where the worst forward on the team just might have the coolest name. Sissons is a 22-year-old centre that was originally drafted 50th overall in the 2012 NHL draft by the Nashville Predators. He would only play for the first time in the NHL during the 2013-14 season, where he amassed a goal in 17 games played that season. He played another 34 games last year, hitting the back of the net four times. This season was the first time he secured his spot on the roster right after training camp, but whether or not he’ll be there to stay is another question.
Sissons has no goals or assists in seven games to start the season, and that doesn’t look too good in management’s eyes. He’s been the worst forward for Nashville so far this year, and I don’t expect him to play the whole season with the Predators.
13 New Jersey Devils - Vernon Fiddler
We now go across the Hudson to the picturesque state of New Jersey, the long-time home of now retired netminder Martin Brodeur. With the acquisition of Taylor Hall during the offseason and with Cory Schneider guarding the net so well, the Devils seem poised to make some noise in the Eastern Conference this year. Other than Taylor Hall, they also added another forward, albeit not as important, in Vernon Fiddler. Fiddler, now 36 years old, is nearing the end of his career, so the Devils probably knew not to expect too much offensive production from their newest acquisition.
Fiddler went undrafted but signed a contract with the Nashville Predators in 2002. He’s played in over 800 games since then, a true veteran of the sport, but I think this year with the Devils will be his worst yet. In eight games played, he hasn’t scored a goal or earned an assist. Not the ideal start for someone trying to make an impression with their new team.
12 New York Islanders – Alan Quine
Someone who managed to squeeze into the starting roster for the Islanders this year is 23-year-old Alan Quine. Quine was drafted in the sixth round in 2013 and saw some NHL action for the first time last year, playing just two games for the Islanders. Interestingly enough, Quine was originally selected in the third round of the 2011 draft by the Red Wings, although he never signed with the team and continued playing junior hockey in the OHL.
This year is the year for Quine to show his worth and put up some offensive numbers, although it hasn’t started out well so far. Quine has one goal in six games this season. However, the Islanders haven’t looked great, so if Quine can turn this around, he may have a chance to not be considered the worst forward on the team.
11 New York Rangers – Jesper Fast
Originally drafted by the Rangers 157th overall in 2010, he only officially joined the Rangers in 2013 and has been with the team ever since. Last year was his first full season with the Club, where he managed 10 goals and 20 assists in 79 contests. Fast has been praised by coach Alain Vigneault since he joined the Rangers and made an impression quickly. However, I think the Rangers will have a difficult year this year, and I think that’ll end up affecting Fast’s quality of play quite a bit.
Although Fast is considered a fast player with a great ability to forecheck, he has had a rough start to the season, with no goals yet in nine games. Although the season is still young, more was expected early from Fast, who was coming off his first full season with decent offensive production.
10 Ottawa Senators – Tom Pyatt
We go north of the border to Canada’s capital, Ottawa. The Senators have some very good forwards in their roster, but unfortunately Tom Pyatt is not one of them. Pyatt has played for three different teams, mostly in the same role. Pyatt is a career fourth-liner, which is fine, but it also means that on occasion you’ll get mentioned in articles like this. So sorry Tom. I've never really had anything against Tom Pyatt, a player who has always known his role. He has managed 29 goals in his 245 NHL games played, not too shabby for someone with such limited minutes.
This year in Ottawa, despite a hot, four-point start, I expect Pyatt to be one of the worst forwards on the team. Like I said, don’t let yourself be fooled by his start, it might be the only streak he goes on all season.
9 Philadelphia Flyers – Dale Weise
A Montreal fan favorite, people were sad to see Weise get traded to the Blackhawks last year when the Canadiens' season was pulling its last breaths. It was obviously going to be temporary move for the Hawks, who were getting more depth up front for what was supposed to be a very serious Cup run that wasn’t meant to be at the end. Weise would sign with the Philadelphia Flyers in the offseason.
The success he found in Montreal didn’t parallel to Philadelphia, where Weise has struggled. He played on the first line at some point last year with the Canadiens, could you believe that? He has no goals and just one assists in seven games this season so far, and his days with the Flyers might be numbered unless he improves his game, because right now he’s definitely the worst forward on the team.
8 Pittsburgh Penguins - Carl Hagelin
Carl Hagelin may be the worst forward on the Pittsburgh Penguins, but they really have a lot of good forwards to go around, so when I say that Hagelin is the worst forward on the Penguins, maybe take that with a grain of salt. Hagelin was originally drafted by the New York Rangers in 2007 and has also played in Anaheim before being traded to the Penguins during the 2015-16 season. It’s a good thing he joined the Penguins when he did, because they would go on to winning the Stanley Cup, Hagelin’s first, just a few months after he joined. He was particularly effective with the Pens, getting 27 points in 37 games, helping them make the playoffs.
I don’t think Hagelin will be even a quarter as effective this year, and expect him to finish on the bottom of the goal scoring charts at the end of the season. The 28-year-old only has one goal so far. Hagelin’s production with the Penguins last year was unprecedented and the best stretch of his career, which is the main reason I don’t think he’ll maintain the same pace this year.
7 San Jose Sharks – Chris Tierney
San Jose is another one of those teams with no lack of offensive prowess on their team to go around. Chris Tierney is just 22 years old and was drafted 55th overall by the Sharks in the 2012 draft. He made his debut in the NHL playing 43 games in the 2014-15 season, and also played the whole season last year, where he scored just seven goals. Now in his third year with the Sharks, this is the year Tierney needs to be better than previous years and show the Sharks that he has a permanent place in the team.
The going has been a little slow so far however. Tierney has no goals and just one assist in nine games played so far, not a good sign for the remainder of the season still to come. Like I said though, on a team as stacked up front as San Jose, it would be difficult for Tierney to make a difference offensively.
6 St. Louis Blues – Ryan Reaves
Selected 156th overall by the St. Louis Blues, Reaves has been with the St. Louis Blues ever since. He must be doing something right, because his offensive numbers haven’t been too impressive, although he’s always been an extremely hard-hitting forward I would know, because I always include Reeves on my fantasy team explicitly for the hits. Reeves only has 20 goals in 339 games played in the NHL.
This year has been especially slow for the 225-pound winger, who remains pointless with a minus-3 in nine games played thus far. Even if he does bring a physical presence on the ice, his lack of production makes him one of the worst Blues forwards this year. Not that the Blues really need to worry, with the likes of Vladimir Tarasenko on their team.
5 Tampa Bay Lightning – Brian Boyle
Looking through the Tampa Bay Lightning roster, one can only shudder at the quality available, whether it’s up front or on defense. On paper, I have them as one of the best teams in the league. Brian Boyle, currently starting his third year with the Lightning at 31 years old, has been on a steady decline for quite a while. There’s no denying the fact that he’s a warrior on the ice and probably an important part of the dressing room as well, but his offensive productivity has been unimpressive as of late.
He’s never really been a point-producing forward, his best season coming with the Rangers where he tallied 35 points. So far this year, Boyle has scored just once in nine games. The talent on this team unfortunately limits Boyle to the fourth , sometimes third line, so he won’t be seeing much ice time this year anyway. Look for one of Boyle’s worst seasons yet.
4 Toronto Maple Leafs – Matt Martin
One of my personal favorites, Matt Martin is in his first year in a Leafs uniform, but hasn’t managed to make any type of impact so far. In all nine games played so far, Martin remains pointless, although he's stayed true to himself and already has 37 hits. Martin was a member of the Islanders before being acquired by the Maple Leafs, playing an important role on their fourth line. Martin has never passed the 20-point mark, and it looks like he won’t even get close with the Leafs.
Although Martin brings a lot of energy to the game, his offensive productivity isn’t near enough for him to have any kind of impact in Toronto, who is in the midst of a rebuild. Although he probably will never be the best forward, an attitude like Matt Martin’s can go a long way in the dressing room, especially for a group as used to losing as Toronto.
3 Vancouver Canucks – Jake Virtanen
Introducing Jake Virtanen, the 20-year old right winger that was selected sixth overall in the 2014 draft. He played 55 games last year as Canuck and netted seven goals in the process. This year in seven games, Virtanen has yet to score. Calling Virtanen the worst forward on the team may not be fair to some of you, but considering his lack of experience at his young, tender age, I think it’s pretty accurate.
The Hockey News originally had a lot of praise for Virtanen before the draft, projecting that he would become a “pure goal scorer” in the NHL, praising his physicality and shot, although mentioning that his hockey sense could use developing. In terms of development, Virtanen still has a long way to go, but I expect this to a rough year for the young man and for the Canucks in general.
2 Washington Capitals – Lars Eller
Moving on to the worst forward playing with Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, I give you Lars Eller. Lars is in his first year with the Washington Capitals as he was traded at the 2016 draft by Marc Bergevin and the Montreal Canadiens. Eller was originally selected 13th overall in the 2007 draft, and then acquired by the Canadiens in exchange for netminder Jaroslav Halak. Eller never really found his scoring touch in Montreal and was quickly becoming a reason for many Habs fans frustrations, who saw Eller’s performances on the ice and called them for what they were; a lack of hockey sense.
Things don’t seem to be going much differently as a member of the Capitals. Considering their talent up front, Lars Eller will be limited to a third, maybe even fourth-line role. He’s scored just one goal in eight games so far, with no assists.
1 Winnipeg Jets – Brandon Tanev
Finally we get to the last team on this list, the Winnipeg Jets and their worst forward is hands down Brandon Tanev. The younger brother of Christopher Tanev of the Vancouver Canucks, Brandon went undrafted, but signed his first contract with the Jets on March 30, 2016. He is mostly known for scoring the game-winning goal of the 2015 NCAA Championship game to give the Providence Friars their first ever national title.
In three games last year and nine games this year, Tanev has no goals or assists, failing to make any type of impact in a very long period of time, so much so that I would be a little concerned. We’ll see how long Tanev can keep his pointless streak alive, and how long he’ll actually be a Jet forward.
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