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Dead Weight: One Player Every NHL Team Should Release

Every NHL team’s management wants the perfect team. The power forwards, major point producers, the shut-down defensemen, the star goaltenders – and in a perfect world, they would have that team, but unfortunately that’s not how it works. In an ideal situation, they would have the same team (or very similar) to the gold medal winning Team Canada who had the best of the best across the country playing for them.

But the reality is that no team is perfect. They all have one or more players who just aren’t pulling their weight and should be let go. Unfortunately it’s not that simple as some players have a no-trade clause and the teams are stuck with them unless they decide to void the clause. Other times, they try to trade the player but no other team wants to take a chance on them. So all they can do is hope the player will get out of their drought and start pulling their weight and doing what they are being paid to do.

These NHL players should be released because they are struggling and not contributing to what the team wants or needs them do to.

31 Anaheim Ducks – Jared Boll

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

This upcoming 2017-18 season will be Jared Boll’s second with the Anaheim Ducks. This right winger is known mostly as an enforcer and definitely not a point producer – his best season consisted of 14 points. Last season with the Ducks, he only tallied 3 assists in 51 games – the first time ever in his career that he finished a season without scoring at least one goal. And for having a reputation for dropping the gloves, he wasn’t very physical when it came to throwing his weight around as he averaged just 1.3 hits per game, ranking him pretty low among his teammates. He did have the most penalty minutes on the team with 87 PIM, which included 15 majors.

There’s no doubt that Boll can defend his teammates, but besides that he doesn’t contribute much in any other category.

30 Arizona Coyotes – Jamie McGinn

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

This upcoming 2017-18 season will be Jamie McGinn’s second with the Arizona Coyotes. In72 games last season, this left winger produced just 17 points, which is very low considering he had three 30+ point seasons in his nine-year NHL career so far. McGinn also had a -23 rating, which was among the worst on the team and was the worst rating of his career. And he saw just 13:10 of on-ice time per game, along with an average of just 00:58 seconds of time during the man advantage, which is a lot less time than what he’s accustomed to. In fact, during his four seasons with the Colorado Avalanche from 2011-12 to 2014-15, he spent quite a bit of time on the ice during the power play. For averaging over $3 million a year, McGinn is definitely not playing to his full potential.

29 Boston Bruins – Matt Beleskey

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Beleskey is getting ready to begin his third season with the Boston Bruins. In 49 games last season, he had just 8 points, which ranked him 19th among all of his teammates. That was his lowest points total since he started playing full time in the NHL in 2009-10. What’s even more disappointing is the fact that he had two consecutive seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16 where he produced over 30 points, so he does know how to rack up points. Also last season, he had a -10 plus/minus rating which tied him for the second-worst overall rating on the team and coincidentally tied him for the worst rating in his NHL career thus far. Other than throwing around some hits, he definitely struggled in pretty much every other area.

28 Buffalo Sabres – Evander Kane

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This upcoming 2017-18 season will be Evander Kane’s third with the Buffalo Sabres. Last season, this left winger produced 43 points in 70 games which ranked him sixth on the team. It was the fourth time in his career that he produced over 40 points. Although he recorded a decent amount of points, he was less than impressive in other important categories, such as his disappointing -17 plus/minus rating which was the second worst on the entire team. Not to mention the fact that he racked up the most penalty minutes on the team with 113 PIM so he wasn’t much help to them when he was sitting in the box. Based on those struggles, he’s definitely not worth over $5 million per year and it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world if the Sabres got rid of him.

27 Calgary Flames – Matt Stajan

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Stajan is getting ready to begin his ninth season with the Calgary Flames. Last season, this center recorded 23 points in 81 games which ranked him 14th on the team. What’s even more disappointing than that low total is the fact that that was the most points he has recorded in the last three seasons (he had 17 points in each of his two previous seasons). He also had just 59 shots on goal which was the lowest amount among all Flames centers who played over 26 games. The only areas where he did decent was that he saw a lot of ice time while they were a man down and he did record two shorthanded points. He also had the fourth highest amount of faceoffs (768) and had a 50.1 win percentage. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s definitely been struggling in recent years.

26 Carolina Hurricanes – Joakim Nordstrom

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Joakim Nordstrom is getting ready to begin his third season with the Carolina Hurricanes. Last season, this left winger tallied just 12 points in 82 games which ranked him sixteenth on the team. He also had a -12 plus/minus rating which was the fifth worst on the team. He did average 1.8 hits per game which was the only area in which he was decent in, along with the fact that he saw a lot of ice time while they were a man down and did record a shorthanded goal.

He definitely struggled last season since the year before (in 2015-16) he doubled last season’s point totals and had a plus/minus rating on the plus side. Since he’s only been in the NHL for four seasons, perhaps he’ll improve, but the Hurricanes should also consider trading him.

25 Chicago Blackhawks – Jordin Tootoo

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

This upcoming 2017-18 NHL season will be Jordin Tootoo’s second with the Chicago Blackhawks. Last season, this right winger tallied just 3 points in 50 games which ranked him a very low 22nd on the team. That was, in fact, his lowest points total in his entire 13-year NHL career with the exception of the 2013-14 season when he recorded one point in 11 games. Also last season, he had the worst plus/minus rating on the team with a -6. And he only had 43 shots on goal which averaged out to less than one per game. The only area in which he decently contributed was that he averaged one hit per game.

Tootoo has only had one season in which he recorded 30 points (in 2011-12), so there are obviously not many expectations in regards to his point-producing abilities, so maybe the Blackhawks should consider releasing him.

24 Colorado Avalanche – Carl Soderberg

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

This upcoming 2017-18 NHL season will be Carl Soderberg’s third with the Colorado Avalanche. Last season, this center recorded 14 points in 80 games which ranked him thirteenth on the team. That was his lowest points total since he began playing in the NHL full time in 2013-14 with the Boston Bruins. In fact, in his first three years in the NHL, he racked up over 40 points in each of those seasons, along with one season with over 50 points. So needless to say, it was quite disappointing when he tallied just 14 points last year. He also had a -26 plus/minus rating which was the third worst on the team and the worst of his career thus far.

With a very disappointing season last year, it may be time for the Avalanche to consider other options for Soderberg.

23 Columbus Blue Jackets – Matt Calvert

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Calvert is getting ready to begin his eighth season with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Last season, this left winger recorded just 15 points in 65 games which ranked him fifteenth on the team. That was his lowest points total in his entire career thus far expect for the 2011-12 season when he tallied 3 points in 13 games. Although he’s not a big point producer, he did have four seasons where he earned at least 20 points, including three consecutive seasons from 2013-14 to 2015-16. Also last season, he had a -4 plus/minus rating which was the worst on the team. The only area in which he excelled was that he led the team with 4 shorthanded points.

Based on his poor productivity last season, it may be time for the Blue Jackets to consider letting Calvert go.

22 Dallas Stars – Antoine Roussel

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This upcoming 2017-18 season will be Antoine Roussel’s sixth year with the Dallas Stars. Last season, this left winger tallied 27 points in 60 games which ranked him eighth on the team. He’s had four consecutive seasons where he recorded over 20 points, but his highest total was just 29 points in an entire season. He had by far the most penalty minutes on the team with 115 PIM including 9 majors. For a tough guy who can drop the gloves, he isn’t much for throwing his body around with an average of 1.1 hits per game which ranked him twelfth among his teammates.

If the Stars got rid of him, they’d still have Curtis McKenzie who can also drop the gloves, had a better plus/minus rating, delivered more hits, and makes $700,000 a year compared to Roussel’s $2 million contract.

21 Detroit Red Wings – Justin Abdelkader

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

This upcoming 2017-18 season will be Justin Abdelkader’s eleventh with the Detroit Red Wings. In 64 games last season, he recorded 21 points, which ranked him 10th on the team. That was pretty disappointing considering that prior to last season he had two consecutive seasons in which he produced over 40 points. Also last year, he had a -20 plus/minus rating which was the fifth worst on the team and his worst rating of his entire career thus far. On the plus side, he does like to throw his body around, to the tune of 114 hits on the year.

For averaging over $4 million a year, Abdelkader needs to get back to producing big points or else the Red Wings may just release him.

20 Edmonton Oilers – Zack Kassian

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Zack Kassian is getting ready to begin his third season with the Edmonton Oilers. Last season, this right winger tallied 24 points in 79 games which ranked him tenth on the team. Despite being the second highest points total in his career so far, it was also only the second time he played over 70 games in a season. He racked up the most penalty minutes on the team with 101 PIM which included 7 majors. He also averaged 2.5 hits per game which was good enough for the third highest on the team.

If the Oilers released him, they’d still have Patrick Maroon who can also deliver hits and drop his gloves, as well as produce points (he had 42 points last season) and has a slightly cheaper salary than Kassian.

19 Florida Panthers – Nick Bjugstad

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

This upcoming 2017-18 season will be Nick Bjugstad’s sixth with the Florida Panthers. Last season, this center recorded just 14 points in 54 games which ranked him fifteenth on the team. Prior to last year, he had three consecutive seasons in which he produced over 30 points and one of them he racked up over 40 points. Also last season, he had a -19 plus/minus rating which was the third worst among his teammates. And he recorded 3 power play points which, compared to the 15 points he racked up during the man advantage the previous year and 12 points the year before that, it was a significant drop in production.

With Bjugstad’s poor performance last year, it may be time for the Panthers to weigh their options.

18 Los Angeles Kings – Dustin Brown

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Dustin Brown is getting ready to play his 14th season with the Los Angeles Kings. Last season, this right winger recorded 36 points in 80 games which ranked him sixth on the team. His point production has dramatically declined in recent years. He had five consecutive seasons where he racked up over 50 points from 2007-08 to 2011-12 and last season was the first time since then that he tallied over 30 points. And for a guy who produced double digits in power play points for seven consecutive seasons, he tallied just 6 points during the man advantage last year. His on-ice time has also dropped. He was accustomed to playing over 19 minutes a game and last season he averaged just 16 minutes of ice time. The one good statistic he had last season was that he delivered the largest amount of hits on the team with 190. Other than that, I think it may be time for the Kings to let go of Brown.

17 Minnesota Wild – Chris Stewart

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

This upcoming 2017-18 season will be Chris Stewart’s second with the Minnesota Wild. Last season, this right winger tallied 21 points in 79 games, which ranked him fourteenth among his teammates. That number is quite disappointing considering had five seasons where he produced over 30 points and in two of those seasons he racked up over 50 points. And with four seasons where he earned double digits in power play points, he tallied just two points last season during the man advantage. He had by far the most penalty minutes on the team last year with 94 PIM which included 10 majors.

Stewart is able to produce points which was proven in past seasons, but the last few years his numbers have declined and he needs to do a lot more for the team than just dropping his gloves.

16 Montreal Canadiens – Tomas Plekanec

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Tomas Plekanec is getting ready to begin his 14th season with the Montreal Canadiens. Last season, this center tallied just 28 points in 78 games which ranked him eleventh on the team. That was his worst points season since he started playing full-time in the NHL in 2005. And he recorded 139 shots on goal last season which was his lowest number in the ten seasons where he played over 70 games. He does have a good record in the faceoff circle and has kept a faceoff win percentage around the 50% mark throughout the majority of his career. However, his on-ice time dramatically decreased last season with an average of just 16:49 minutes per game, which is a lot less than what he’s accustomed to which is between 19 and 20 minutes per game. Plekanec's declining numbers may be enough for the Montreal Canadiens to consider getting rid of him.

15 Nashville Predators – Craig Smith

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Craig Smith is getting ready to begin his seventh season with the Nashville Predators. Last season, this right winger recorded 29 points in 78 games which ranked him 11th on the team. Last was his lowest points total in the last four years. In fact, prior to last season, he had three consecutive seasons where he produced over 35 points and even had one year where he racked up 52 points. Also last season, he tallied just 3 power play points which was his lowest total in his entire six-year NHL career so far. And he saw the least amount of on-ice time in his career so far with an average of just 13:49 minutes per game last season. With the drop in his numbers, maybe it’s time for Nashville to get rid of Smith.

14 New Jersey Devils – Cory Schneider

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This upcoming 2017-18 season will be Cory Schneider’s fifth with the New Jersey Devils. Last season, this goaltender earned just 20 wins in 60 games, along with a 2.82 goals against average. That was his least amount of wins in the last three seasons and his highest GAA in his last seven seasons. As a matter of fact, he let in four or more goals during 17 games last season. He also earned just two shutouts which was his lowest amount in the last six seasons.

His numbers are very disappointing considering that when he played for the Vancouver Canucks, he had a five year total of 55 wins in 98 games and with the Devils he has just 89 wins in 232 games. I think it may be time for the Devils to ask Schneider to waive his no trade clause.

13 New York Islanders – Andrew Ladd

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

This upcoming 2017-18 season will be Andrew Ladd’s second with the New York Islanders. Last season, this left winger recorded 31 points in 78 games which ranked him seventh on the team. That was his lowest points total since 2007-08 and that’s quite disappointing since he has had four 50+ point seasons in his career so he knows how to rack up the points. Also last season, he had a -14 plus/minus rating which was the second worst among all of his teammates and the worst of his entire twelve-year NHL career thus far. And for a guy who had five seasons where he racked up double digits in power play points, he earned just five points last season during the man advantage.

Since his numbers were less than impressive last season, it may be time for the Islanders to consider other options with Ladd.

12 New York Rangers – Marc Staal

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Marc Staal is getting ready to begin his eleventh season with the New York Rangers. Last season, this defenseman recorded 10 points in 72 games which ranked him twentieth among his teammates. It was his lowest amount of points in the last five years. He averaged 1.3 blocked shots per game last season which ranked him fifth among his team’s defensemen. He also had the fifth highest amount of penalty minutes on the team. His numbers weren’t great for a guy who averaged over 19 minutes of ice time per game.

Unfortunately for the Rangers, they are stuck with Staal for a while since he has a no movement clause on his hefty contract which averages almost $6 million a year unless they can convince him to waive it.

11 Ottawa Senators – Dion Phaneuf

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This upcoming 2017-18 season will be Dion Phaneuf’s 13th year in the NHL. He joined the Ottawa Senators in February 2016 and has been there ever since. Last season, this defenseman tallied 30 points in 81 games which ranked him ninth on the team. Early in his career, he had five seasons where he racked up over 40 points including his first four seasons in the NHL, but his numbers have been dropping in the last few years. Also last season, his -6 plus/minus rating was the sixth worst on the team. And he had the second highest amount of penalty minutes with 100 PIM. The only area in which he was decent was that he racked up the third highest amount of blocked shots on the team with 156. All in all, those are pretty disappointing numbers for being one of the highest paid players on the team.

10 Philadelphia Flyers – Michael Raffl

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Raffl is getting ready to begin his fifth season with the Philadelphia Flyers. Last season, this left winger tallied 11 points in 52 games which ranked him nineteenth among his teammates. It was his lowest points total in his four-year NHL career thus far. Although his -7 plus/minus rating was only the ninth worst on the team, it was Raffl’s worst rating of his career to date. And despite only playing 52 games last season due to injury, he still only managed 63 shots on goal which is quite a drop from his previous three years where he recorded over 100 shots in each of those seasons.

With his significant drop in production last season, it may be time for the Flyers to consider getting rid of Raffl.

9 Pittsburgh Penguins – Carl Hagelin

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This upcoming 2017-18 season will be Carl Hagelin’s seventh year in the NHL. He joined the Pittsburgh Penguins in January 2016 and has been with them ever since. Last season, this left winger tallied 22 points in 61 games which ranked him 15th among his teammates. That was, in fact, his lowest points total in his entire NHL career so far. And this is a guy who has had four seasons in which he produced over 30 points, including three consecutive seasons from 2013-14 to 2015-16. Not to mention the fact that he has reached double digits in his amount of goals scored in every season of his NHL career except for last year when he tallied just 6 goals. With his decline in numbers last season, it may be time for the Penguins to explore other options for Hagelin.

8 San Jose Sharks – Joel Ward

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This upcoming 2017-18 season will be Joel Ward’s third with the San Jose Sharks. Last season, this right winger tallied 29 points in 78 games which ranked him sixth among his teammates. That was his lowest points total in the last four years which is rather disappointing considering this is a guy who had five seasons in which he produced over 30 points and in two of those seasons he racked up over 40 points. As a matter of fact, he racked up 43 points in 79 games in his first season with the Sharks in 2015-16. Also last season, he produced just 3 power play points which was a significant drop from his previous three seasons where he racked up double digits in points during the man advantage. With Ward’s recent struggles, it may be time for the Sharks to consider other options for him.

7 St. Louis Blues – Carl Gunnarsson

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

This upcoming 2017-18 season will be Carl Gunnarsson’s fourth with the St. Louis Blues. Last season, this defenseman recorded just 6 points (all assists) in 56 games which ranked him 21st among his teammates. That was the first time in his eight-year NHL career that he failed to record at least one goal and it was his lowest points total of his career thus far. In fact, his numbers have been declining ever since joining the Blues in 2014-15. He also had the second worst plus/minus rating of his career last season with a -5. And he wasn’t overly great with blocking shots with a total of 68 which ranked him seventh on the team.

With Gunnarsson’s numbers declining over the past few seasons, it may be a good idea for the Blues to consider getting rid of him.

6 Tampa Bay Lightning – Braydon Coburn

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This upcoming 2017-18 season will be Braydon Coburn’s thirteenth in the NHL. He joined the Tampa Bay Lightning in March 2015 and has been with them ever since. Last season, this defenseman recorded 12 points in 80 games which ranked him 14th among his teammates. Although he’s not known to be a big point-producing defenseman, he did have three seasons where he recorded over 20 points and even racked up 36 points in 2007-08 with the Philadelphia Flyers. While he averaged 1.4 hits per game last season, his number of blocked shots was pretty disappointing with less than one per game (0.9 blocked shot per game). He also had the fourth highest amount of penalty minutes with 50 PIM.

Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, Coburn has a no-trade clause, so they’re stuck with him unless he decides to waive it.

5 Toronto Maple Leafs – Joffrey Lupul

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Joffrey Lupul has been with the Toronto Maple Leafs since February 2011 and is still under a five-year contract with them which will end after this upcoming 2017-18 season. Unfortunately, this left winger hasn’t played a NHL game since February 6, 2016 and shortly after that had surgery to repair a sports hernia. He is still not physically ready to return to the game.

During his time with the Leafs (beginning with the 2010-11 season), he has totalled 182 points in 280 games, which included the best season so far of his career in 2011-12 when he racked up 67 points in 66 games. But has Lupul played his final NHL game? The Leafs can hope for the best that he will return this upcoming season or try to get rid of him even though it’s highly doubtful that any team will take a chance on him right now.

4 Vancouver Canucks – Loui Eriksson

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This upcoming 2017-18 season will be Loui Eriksson’s second with the Vancouver Canucks. Last season, this left winger recorded 24 points in 65 games which ranked him seventh on the team. That was his lowest points total of his 11-year NHL career except for his first season in 2006-07. And this is a guy who racked up over 60 points five times throughout his career, including three consecutive seasons from 2009-10 to 2011-12 when he produced over 70 points. He also had a -9 plus/minus rating last season which was tied for the worst rating of his career. And he tallied just 7 power play points which was a drop from his previous eight seasons where he produced double digits in points during the man advantage.

With Eriksson’s numbers declining, it may be time for the Canucks to convince him to waive his no movement clause.

3 Vegas Golden Knights – Mikhail Grabovski

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Mikhail Grabovski hasn’t even played a game for the Vegas Golden Knights yet, but it may be in their best interest to try to unload him. He didn’t play last season due to an injury, but the previous year this center tallied 25 points in 58 games. In fact, in both seasons combined that he spent with the New York Islanders (2014-15 and 2015-16), he recorded just 44 points in 109 games. Those are pretty disappointing numbers considering he had two consecutive seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs where he produced over 50 points.

Since Grabovski missed all of last season due to a concussion, it’s a gamble on how well he’ll do in Vegas or whether he’ll even play at all. Not to mention the fact that he’s earning $5 million a year. I think it would be wise for the Golden Knights to try to get rid of him.

2 Washington Capitals – Tom Wilson

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This upcoming 2017-18 season will be Tom Wilson’s fifth with the Washington Capitals. Last season, this right winger recorded just 19 points in 82 games which ranked him fifteenth among his teammates. He’s definitely not a big point producer, as his highest total in his four-year NHL career so far was in 2015-16 when he recorded 23 points. He is best known for being a physical player and an enforcer who had a whopping 133 penalty minutes last season which included nine majors. He also led the team with 239 hits which averaged out to 2.9 hits per game.

On the other hand, the Capitals don’t really need him, as Alexander Ovechkin and Brooks Orpik both averaged over two hits per game each and they’re both much better all around players than Wilson. It may be time to ship him elsewhere.

1 Winnipeg Jets – Toby Enstrom

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Toby Enstrom is getting ready to begin his eleventh season in the NHL. He began his career with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2007 and when the team relocated to Winnipeg in 2011, he went with them and is still currently playing for the Jets. Last season, this defenseman recorded just 14 points in 60 games which ranked him fourteenth on the team. That was his lowest points total in his entire NHL career and this is a guy who had two consecutive 50+ point seasons in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Also last season, he had a -7 plus/minus rating which was the fifth worst on the team. And he wasn’t overly impressive with an average of 1.6 blocked shots per game which ranked him eighth among all Jets defensemen. With his declining numbers over recent years, it may be time for the Jets to release Enstrom.

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