Have you ever looked at your favorite team and wondered, "Why does he make so much", "How come he is always on the #1 line" or "Why does he always disappear in the playoffs"? The history of the NHL is littered with players who were expected to be the best of the best and had a reputation as an "Elite player" but who completely failed to live up to expectations. From making big money salaries but not putting up big money stats to players that can score in bunches but can't lead the team past the first round of the playoffs. Every person's definition of why a player is overrated is different. It could be guys like Jason Arnott and Kevin Stevens who only put up big points when surrounded by talent or guys like Dustin Penner and Shawn Horcoff who were decent players but were paid like superstars. You may see some names that shock you like Curtis Joseph and Mark Messier who achieved greatness most places they played but struggled mightily for the teams they represent
From the Anaheim Ducks' Ryan Kesler to the Winnipeg Jets/Atlanta Thrashers Patrik Stefan and everyone in-between this list will be chock full of players that left fans infuriated and shaking their heads in unison
Note: There were some players who could have appeared for multiple teams( like Ilya Bryzgalov for both the Flyers and Ducks) I stuck to a one team/player list so maybe some less worthy players find their way on to this list. So enjoy as we dive into the NHL history books to find the most overrated players in each NHL team's history
30 Anaheim Ducks - Ryan Kesler
Ryan Kesler came to the Ducks with huge expectations of being the missing piece in the team's road to the Stanley Cup. Having come from an elite (but flawed) team in Vancouver, Kesler excelled in playing a big part in Vancouver's 2011 Stanley Cup Finals appearance. As a Duck thus far he has been nothing but a disappointment. Almost a point per game player in his prime who was still defensively reliable, Kesler is on pace to put up under 50 points for the 3rd straight year. Worst of all however is the implosion of his defensive ability, acquired to provide strength down the middle, Kesler has instead been a detriment to his line at times. Not what a team expects when they sign you for $6.875 million per season until 2021-22.
29 Arizona Coyotes - Sam Gagner
They may not have been the team he was drafted by, but the Coyotes fall in a long list of teams that keep giving this draft bust chance after chance. There's not much hype in Arizona, so you have to go with a familiar name given too big of a chance. Gagner is a frustrating player to be a fan of. He shows flashes of brilliance, evident in his 8 point game against the Chicago Blackhawks as a member of the Edmonton Oilers. Those games however are few and far between in a career littered with high expectations and disappointing failures for the former first round draft pick. There is still time for Sam to turn in around and earn his way off this list but for now he is Arizona's most overrated player of all time.
28 Boston Bruins - Martin Lapointe
What was Mike O'Connell thinking giving Martin Lapointe a 4 year/$20 million deal. Lapointe was a third line player at best. His best season up until that point was a 57 point campaign playing for the Red Wings. For $5 million a year, they got themselves a player who maxed out at 40 points in his three seasons with the Bruins. Boston must have been excited that at least the last season of the deal was lost to the lockout and they could move on from this colossal mistake.
27 Buffalo Sabres - Danny Briere
For an undersized player you could make the argument that Daniel Briere couldn't be overrated because he never was expected to make it. Danny Briere only had one season where he approached a 100 point year, in 2006-07. He was the highest paid player in the 2007-08 season, doubling his salary from the previous year. Since the cash in Briere only scored over 70 points once in his career. He hung on way too long, scoring a combined 52 points over his last three years. Not what you expect out of a guy who raked in over $50 million in his career.
26 Calgary Flames - Jay Bouwmeester
As a former lottery pick, expectations were high for the young defenseman from Edmonton. He proved to find himself in limbo under those expectations. Some of that could be attributed to him being on a weak team so he looked better than he was. The Flames traded Jordan Leopold and a third round pick to Florida for his rights prior to free agency in 2009 and signed him to a five-year, $33 million deal. Bouwmeester brought in a big money salary but was rarely ever ranked as a top 20 defenseman in the NHL, even though he was certainly paid like one. St. Louis has him locked in long term at $5.4 million per season which is still too much for a defenseman who disappears in the playoffs.
25 Carolina Hurricanes - Alexander Semin
Alexander Semin is the definition of overrated. He has infuriated every fan base of every team he has been on. In the beginning of his career it was obvious he was just there to collect a pay cheque but he still put up decent stats so teams kept giving him chance after chance. Not only would he disappear in the playoffs, he would appear to just be going through the motions for much of the 2nd half of the season. He was so bad, the Capitals will be paying him 2.33 million a year until 2020-2021 just to go away.
24 Colorado Avalanche - Erik Johnson
Let's set aside the fact that Johnson is one of the biggest draft busts of the 2000s, and the fact Colorado traded a great defenseman in Kevin Shattenkirk to get him. Johnson is set for a contract extension kicking in next year, that will earn him $6 million a season and Colorado has very little to show for it. Johnson will carry a greater cap hit per season than guys like Duncan Keith, Brent Burns and Oliver Ekman-Larsson among countless others. I don't think anyone would put him in the same category as those players.
23 Columbus Blue Jackets - Rick Nash
Rick Nash has been a scoring machine since entering the NHL, no one can dispute that for a second. However there is more to being an elite player in the NHL than just scoring. Nash, despite being a captain for the Blue Jackets, had his leadership ability constantly called into question. He was unable to lead a bad Blue Jackets team to more than one playoff appearance, which was a sweep and Nash struggled mightily. Now in New York surrounded by better talent he still doesn't shine when the playoffs come when the team needs him the most.
22 Chicago Blackhawks - Ed Belfour
Don't shoot me but Ed Belfour was extremely overrated his entire career. He played on some teams with very good defenses that made him look much better than he actually was. When he played on teams that weren't stacked defensively he was very much a .500 goaltender. Sure he won 484 games in the NHL, but he also lost 320 games. Even behind a very staunch Dallas defense, Eddie struggled to a 21-27-11 record in his last season with the Stars in 2001. Ed was a good goaltender, but for a guy who is remembered as one of the all time greats his stats just don't back it up.
21 Dallas Stars - Jason Arnott
A talented player in his own right but when relied upon to be "The Guy", Arnott wasn't able to take the lead as evident in his time with the Oilers. Coming to Dallas as a big name to help bring the Stanley Cup back to Texas, Arnott instead would take a backseat to core players Mike Modano, Sergei Zubov and others. Arnott used that one playoff run in New Jersey to cash in big time but never really established himself as the type of player that warranted making the money he did in his career.
20 Detroit Red Wings: Uwe Krupp
Uwe Krupp had a great career with the rival Colorado Avalanche, so when he hit the open market Detroit signed him to a 4-year, $16 million deal, hoping to get the same player they saw beat them countless times. As a Red Wing he spent more time out of the lineup (and possibly in a casino) than on the ice. Detroit may have thought they were weakening a divisional rival by taking Krupp, but Detroit got 30 games and six points for that $16 million. I am sure there were much better options for Detroit at the time.
19 Edmonton Oilers - Shawn Horcoff
Oh how this pains me to write(I bleed copper and blue). Shawn Horcoff is the definition of a player cashing in after a strong playoff run. Kevin Lowe must have still been delirious from the Oilers cinderella run to the finals, Signing Horcoff to a 6 year deal worth 33 million dollars in 2008. Miscast in edmonton as a first line center making first line money(the contract maxed out at 7 million in 2009-2010) Horcoff was at best a 3rd line defensive center who has played well in that role for other teams. In edmonton however his talent was grossly overrated by Kevin Lowe and for a team on a budget it really handcuffed the Oilers for many years.
18 Florida Panthers - Todd Bertuzzi
In Vancouver Todd Bertuzzi was a beast of a man, knocking players left and right and scoring at will playing on a line with Brendan Morrison and Markus Naslund. Then "It" happened, his brutal attack on Steve Moore not only ended Moore's career but it changed the trajectory of Big Bert's as well. His ability (or desire) to use his size to his advantage disappeared after that game and he was moved to Florida who hoped he could rediscover that part of his game. Not only did that not happen, but Big Bert suffered a debilitating back injury and only suited up for seven games with the Panthers. Big Bert was on the decline when he got to Florida but with the Panthers he plummeted off the cliff into the sea of overrated.
17 L.A. Kings - Dustin Penner
Dustin Penner was an extremely frustrating player in his time in the NHL. A big body that seemed scared to throw his size around, Penner showed flashes of brilliance in his career, especially in his big season in 2006-07 with the Ducks. After cashing in big time with a five year deal that averaged $4.25 million per season, Penner seemed to lose that competitive fire. He could be seen giving up on the play, lazing around the ice. L.A hoped he could be the big body needed to compete in a tough Western Conference and gave up Colten Teubert, a first round pick (Oscar Klefbom) and a 3rd rounder to bring the big guy to L.A.
However he wasn't able to play a big part in L.A's success even missing time due to a pancakes related injury. Penner will always be remembered as a guy who could have dominated if he just put the work in.
16 Minnesota Wild - Martin Havlat
Minnesota certainly had buyers remorse after signing Havlat. As a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, Havlat had the appearances of being a top line winger playing with elite talent like Jonathon Toews and Patrick Kane, putting up a career high 77 points. Yet the fact Chicago let him walk to free agency should have been a sign of things to come. Signing a big money deal with the wild, Havlat was not the same player with the wild. Often injured and wilting under the pressure of having to be "The Guy" Havlat topped out at 62 points, never making the playoffs and was eventually dealt for another struggling and overrated forward in Dany Heatley.
15 Montreal Canadiens - Alex Kovalev
Alex Kovalev is another of those enigmatic players that tantalized teams with his skill but also frustrated them with his laziness and inconsistency. When the paychecks stopped coming in, Kovalev stopped caring. Let's take a look at Kovalev's point totals as a member of the Canadiens. He scored three (after a deadline trade), 65, 47, 84 and 65. You never could quite know what version of Kovalev you were going to get on any given night. His attitude angered his teammates and his work ethic wore his welcome out with teams quite quickly having played for seven different franchises including two stints with both the Rangers and Penguins.
14 Nashville Predators - David Legwand
David Legwand was the first ever draft pick of the Nashville Predators, and was the second overall pick way back in 1998. He came in with tons of potential and had a pretty good career, but not what you expect from a 2nd overall pick. David Legwand was the Nashville Predators, being the face of the franchise until Shea Weber came around. That love from the fans hid the fact how overrated Legwand really was. For a player who was thought of as a "franchise player" Legwand never scored more than 27 goals or 63 points...that is not in line with either his salary or his reputation as a great player. Sad to say but that makes David Legwand the most overrated player in Predators history.
13 New Jersey Devils - Ilya Kovalchuk
You had to know this was coming, as the guy signed one of the biggest contracts in NHL history. Now I know he only played for three years of that deal but he got paid $20 million for those three seasons and scored only 79 goals! He only led them on one deep playoff run but that was more because of a hot goalie as he was minus-7 in 23 playoff games. Ilya then decided he wanted to go home and left the Devils high and dry. Rumor has it now that Ilya wants to come back but you can bet it will be for a much more modest salary.
12 New York Islanders - Rick DiPietro
Does anything really need to be said here? Could I just fill this with insane ramblings of a madman and you would still agree? No? well okay, Rick DiPietro is not a horrific goaltender. He's just a tragic case of expectations and injuries crushing a young player, not to mention trying to live up to a contract that should NEVER have been offered. Signed for 15 years and $67.5 million, Rick would only win more than 20 games ONCE in the lifetime of that deal before it was mercy killed with a buyout. That still means however that the islanders will be paying him 1.5 million a year until 2028-2029
11 New York Rangers - Bobby Holik
What was Glen Sather thinking? Bobby Holik was a real good grinding, third line player. So Glen of course gave him a 6 MILLION dollar raise, paying him $9.6 million for the 2002-03 season and was rewarded with a grand total of 35 points for his trouble. Holik was grossly miscast as an elite center when he should have just been playing in a defensive role shutting down the other team. Holik was a talented player but if you are paid like a superstar and you don't perform like one, you are overrated, at least by your organization.
10 Ottawa Senators - Alexei Yashin
If any one overrated Alexei Yashin, it was Alexei Yashin! Alexei demanded superstar money and the Islanders (huge shocker) gave him what Ottawa wouldn't. However, Ottawa is where Yashin got his start and established himself in the NHL. Sure Yashin could put up points in bunches, but he was a horrible leader and as captain could not spark his team to a deep playoff run. He held out, he demanded money that was nowhere near what he was truly worth and that is what makes him so overrated. In his own mind, he was the best in the NHL.
9 Philadelphia Flyers - Eric Lindros
This one isn't so much the players fault as it is the expectations placed on him. Dubbed as "The Next One" Eric Lindros had comparisons to Super Mario and The Great One right off the bat. Refusing to go to Quebec put him in a selfish light immediately. It is hard to say if he finds his way to this list if he wasn't injured all the time. When healthy he could be that elite player that he was billed as, but sadly he was rarely healthy. When you come into the league hyped as the next best of all time and fall short, you are sadly overrated.
8 Pittsburgh Penguins - Kevin Stevens
I know he twice scored over 50 goals in a season, and twice more scored over 40 goals. All four of those came playing shotgun to the dominant Penguins teams of that era. After being traded from the Penguins he only scored over 20 ONCE in the next eight years. Remembered by Penguins fans as a great player, looking back in hindsight he only played well when surrounded by elite talent. When he was on his own he was barely a serviceable winger in the league.
7 San Jose Sharks - Patrick Marleau
Patrick Marleau is the definition of a "regular season" Player, racking up points in bunches during the regular season. When the playoffs get started and the best players find another gear, Marleau is left in the dust. San Jose is known as a team that disappears in the playoffs and unfortunately Marleau is the face of that notion. Only once averaging more than a point per game Marleau has a reputation of being outworked and dominated once the playoffs come around. Being paid better than most at his position, more is expected out of a player who is paid to lead the team to Stanley Cups and not just Presidents' Trophies.
6 St. Louis Blues - Curtis Joseph
Cujo as he is commonly known as is remembered as one of the greatest goaltenders of his era. His career numbers surely are impressive to begin with, as 454 games won ranks him 4th all time. When you dig deeper however some troubling statistics start to emerge. He has 352 career losses, a career GAA of 2.79, which don't quite sound elite. Looking at his time with the St. Louis Blues it gets even worse, averaging 3.04 GAA and his 16-16 record in the playoffs over five seasons. Cujo seemed to struggle with the pressure of the playoffs and that was definitely evident in his time as a member of the Blues.
5 Tampa Bay Lightning - Vincent Lecavalier
Vincent Lecavalier left a very sour taste in the mouths of Tampa Bay fans with how his career there ended, but for a long time he was a much beloved member of the Lightning and was a highly paid member of the team. However, for someone who was paid as an elite player, Vincent Lecavalier rarely showed he had the level of skill of other players in the 90s and 2000s. In 14 years with the Lightning Vincent Lecavalier scored over 100 points only once. He was a career minus-116 in his time with Tampa and in the end Tampa paid him damn near $33 million over 14 years to go away after buying him out.
4 Toronto Maple Leafs - Dion Phaneuf
In 2012 Sports Illustrated issued a survey to 161 NHL players asking who was the most overrated player in the NHL. The overwhelming choice was Dion Phaneuf, garnering 12% more of the vote than 2nd place. Dion has been paid like an elite defenseman since his Calgary days. In six-plus years with the Leafs he never came close to his career high of 60 points he had with the Flames in 2007-08. Someone who is supposed to shut down the top players on the opposing team, Dion struggled in this role with the Leafs, twice being in the minus double digits in the plus/minus rating. Dion will pull in $8 million this season and he is worth nowhere near that. We'll see how he's able to fare in Ottawa with a Norris Trophy winner in Erik Karlsson ahead of him.
3 Vancouver Canucks - Mark Messier
Okay, put down the pitch forks. No one is disputing the fact that Messier is one of the greatest players in NHL history. He will go down in hockey lore for his time on a stacked Edmonton Oilers team, and for leading the New York Rangers to a Stanley Cup. However he was sold as some savior to the fans and players of the Vancouver Canucks and he was everything but that. From constant conflicts with the players, to his rumored clout in the board room leading to the firing of Pat Quinn and the trade of the much beloved Trevor Linden, Messier had three of the worst statistical seasons of his career as a Canuck and missed the playoffs for the first time during his Canuck tenure. If you ask any Canuck fan, Messier will definitely be defined as an overrated player.
2 Washington Capitals - Mike Green
Mike Green is definitely one of those players who cash in a few good years, than fall back to earth and are forever hated for it. Mike Green broke out in a big way in 2008-09 scoring 31 goals and adding 42 assists and built off that adding 76 points the next season. Since then Green has been making an average of $6 million a season but hasn't been close to the same player, topping out at 12 goals in 2012-13 and 45 points in 2014-15. Now a member of the Red Wings, his point totals dropping again this year. The Capitals must be thankful they got out from under this deal.
1 Winnipeg Jets - Evander Kane
I wanted to stick to a player from the current incarnation of the Jets, and also not include any players from the Thrashers but I failed miserably. So I went with a player that barely was there during the Thrashers days. Maybe he doesn't deserve it but Evander Kane crawls in to this list as the most overrated player in new Jets history. Evander got so much hype after scoring 30 goals in his first season in Winnipeg. It all went downhill from there however. From massive injury problems, to a huge bloated contract and an attitude problem that alienated him from the entire locker room, Evander has yet to bounce back with Buffalo. He has the potential to remove himself from this list in the future but for now he caps what has been a hell of a ride through the annuals of NHL history.
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