Top 15 Biggest NHL Busts Of 2018

Raise your hand if this is you: After preparing weeks for your annual hockey pool or league with a group of friends, you made your selections and sat back to look over your team with pride. You thought you picked the best team available and were certain you would at least be going to the playoffs. The team might have struggled early in the season, but you had enough big-name stars to warrant enthusiasm going forward. You didn't even make any trades because, like a proud father, you believed in the team you had. Fast forward to the All-Star break and your team is in last place and nobody will take your bad players.

The good thing is you're not alone. Even the smartest hockey fans have experiences in which they've picked a stinker of a team or, at the very least, selected a few players who didn't at all meet expectations. There are generally signs that a player might be headed towards a decline in production, but that isn't the case for all of these 15 players. Some of the players listed were actually coming off career years and still young enough to expect they would continue improving. That has hardly been the case. Count how many of the following players you've selected for your hockey pool and let us know how awful your team has been doing in the comments.


15 Ryan Johansen

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A 25 year old native of Vancouver, British Columbia, Ryan Johansen was the fourth overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and he has since met expectations that come with being a top-five pick. He broke through offensively to score a career-high 33 goals in 2013-14 and followed that up with a career-high 71 points the next season. He has been the Nashville Predators most productive center since being traded from Columbus and had an impressive 13 points in 14 playoff games last year before suffering an injury that ended his season.

He came back healthy and the expectation was that he would be a 60-plus point producer once again. According to Fantasy Pros, his average draft position in fantasy leagues was 87th overall, but he hasn't produced as expected with only six goals and 28 assists in 52 games. In fact, he's actually fifth on the Predators in scoring behind the likes of Kevin Fiala and Viktor Arvidsson.

14 Derek Stepan

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Derek Stepan had an average draft position of 194, which doesn't seem that high, but it is when you consider his production this season. Moreover, he was also ranked as the 46th best center according to a cumulative ranking system that included lists from Yahoo, ESPN, and CBS. While that ranking is actually somewhat accurate given he has 36 points in 57 games and is tied for 36th among centers in scoring, there was definitely more than a few who selected him thinking he would flourish in Arizona.

Stepan was dealt to the Western Conference team from the New York Rangers in the offseason and many expected a change of scenery would benefit the 27 year old. Instead, he's on about the same offensive pace as he has been for the past four seasons. He's consistent, but only worth a late-round pick at best.


13 Shea Weber

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When the Montreal Canadiens acquired Shea Weber from the Nashville Predators in exchange for P.K. Subban, the team was expected to become a Stanley Cup contender. They had rid themselves of the apparent distraction that the exuberant Subban was and brought in a heart and soul, quiet defenseman with strong leadership capabilities. The move backfired significantly as Subban went to the Stanley Cup Finals with the Predators and the Canadiens were ousted in the first round.

Similarly, if you passed over Subban to take Weber in your hockey pool, you're probably kicking yourself right now. The former is a Norris Trophy candidate, while the latter has been limited to only 26 games due to injury and has only 16 points. At least your team has good leadership qualities?

12 Jeff Skinner

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Toronto-born winger Jeff Skinner is one of the most unheralded scoring wingers in the NHL, likely because he plays in Carolina, where only a few thousand fans come to see him every night. And, let's face it, the team was pretty irrelevant last season. That's why few would have even realized he was among the league's top goal scorers with 37 goals. It was the third time in his career he reached the mark.

The smart General Manager would have waited until the mid rounds to take him, knowing full well he hasn't put together impressive back-to-back season since his first two years in the league. Instead, he was the 12th left winger off the board on average across all leagues and those owners can't be satisfied with his 35 points in 57 games.


11 Daniel & Henrik Sedin

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The Sedins have been paired together their entire career - they were drafted by the Vancouver Canucks back-to-back and have played on the same line for more than 15 years - so it's only appropriate that they're paired together in our list of draft busts. While most smart managers would have steered clear of any players on the Canucks (shout out to the high-risk managers who drafted Brock Boeser), there is sure to be some who anticipated a bounce-back season from the Swedish twins.

In fact, Daniel was taken around the 150 mark, while Henrik, on average, went a few picks later. Neither pick would have worked out as they have 33 and 36 points respectively. Many leagues count plus/minus as well and the Sedins are a respective minus-18 and minus-16.

10 Kris Letang

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One of the bigger surprises on this list is Kris Letang. On average, the Quebec-born defenseman was taken 40th overall and ranked as the sixth-best defenseman; he even had a higher draft position than the likes of Johnny Gaudreau, Patrice Bergeron, and fellow defenseman Zach Werenski, which seems ridiculous at this point.

Letang had a slow start to the season and even with the Pittsburgh Penguins coming on strong as of late, he's still under-performing in regard to expectations. For comparison's sake, Letang produced 34 points in 41 games a season ago, while he only has 33 points in 55 games this year. Those are decent numbers, but let's not forget he gets to share ice on the power-play with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel.


9 Matt Murray

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Another Pittsburgh Penguins star who has severely under-performed this season is goaltender Matt Murray. While he's former goalie partner Marc-Andre Fleury is thriving in Vegas, Murray has a disappointing 2.91 goals against average (GAA) and a .906 save percentage compared to a 2.41 GAA and .923 save percentage a season ago. Because he was coming off of another Stanley Cup, the Thunder Bay, Ontario native was the third-ranked goalie among all fantasy platforms and was taken at an average draft position of 15.7. Fleury, meanwhile, who is a serious Vezina Trophy candidate, was taken at an average draft position of 137.3.

To his credit, Murray does have 20 wins on the season which is at least worth something depending on the format of your fantasy league. He's also improving down the stretch with wins in seven of his last nine appearances.

8 Jonathan Drouin

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The Montreal Canadiens had big plans for Jonathan Drouin when they acquired him for the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev. The casual fan might have thought the Canadiens won the trade decidedly as Drouin was a well-known young offensive star with untapped potential, while Sergachev had yet to play in the NHL. However, Sergachev is now one of the best-looking young defensemen in the league and Drouin has been an utter disappointment in Montreal.

The Canadiens made the mistake of trying to covert the natural winger into a center and it hasn't worked. The 22 year old has only 28 points in 50 games after an impressive 53-point campaign a season ago. To make matters worse, Drouin was picked on average at 80th overall, ahead of players like Brayden Schenn, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Sean Monahan.


7 Cam Talbot

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Cam Talbot was one of the feel-good stories of the 2016-17 season. The former New York Ranger had a tremendous season in helping the Edmonton Oilers reach the playoffs for the first time in a decade. For fantasy players, he would have been an attractive early-round selection given the Oilers were expected to be Stanley Cup contenders this season. He was the fifth-ranked goalie across all fantasy platforms and had an average draft position of 28.7.

Yet, the Oilers have been a major disappointment this season and Talbot is one of the reasons why. The 30 year old has a brutal 3.17 goals against average to go along with a .901 save percentage. He isn't playing behind a very good defense, but those numbers are atrocious nonetheless.

6 Matt Duchene

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Matt Duchene is coming on strong as of late, at least compared to how the rest of his season has gone, but he has still been a major disappointment this year. The 27 year old former third overall pick began the season with the Colorado Avalanche and, despite quite obviously not wanting to be there, produced 10 points in 14 games. That production led the Ottawa Senators to pull the trigger on a deal to acquire him.

Since the trade, Duchene has only 22 points in 41 games and the Senators have gone into a nosedive toward the bottom of the NHL standings. Fantasy managers expecting the trade might revitalize his career were proven wrong as Duchene was held pointless in his first seven games with the team and only produced six points in his first 24 games with the Senators. He has since responded with 16 points in his last 17 games.


5 Max Pacioretty

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It hasn't only been Shea Weber and Jonathan Drouin who have been disappointments for the Montreal Canadiens. Max Pacioretty is regarded as one of the team's best pure goal scorers with at least 30 goals in each of the past four seasons, but 2017-18 has been a struggle for the 29 year old American. He has just 16 goals through 55 games and is on pace to record less than 60 points for the first time since 2009-10, ignoring a lockout- and injury-shortened year in 2012-13 and 2010-11 respectively.

What makes things worse is Pacioretty was apparently one of the biggest proponents for the team moving past P.K. Subban as the two didn't get along and, well, Pacioretty is the captain. If this pace continues he might not wear the 'C' for much longer.

4 Brandon Saad

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You have to give Stan Bowman credit for taking such a risk by trading Russian winger Artemi Panarin for Brandon Saad, who had previously played with the Blackhawks and had success on a line with Jonathan Toews. The rationale for the move was to reignite the offensive production from Toews, although Panarin had remarkable chemistry with Patrick Kane. The reasoning behind the trade was flawed, but kudos to Bowman for taking a chance, because that's the only recognition he's going to get.

Yes, Bowman - and the Blackhawks organization in general - has taken a major 'L' on this deal as Saad has only 24 points through 57 games and is well off his 50-plus point pace he has established in each of the past three seasons. If you bought into the idea that Saad would thrive back in Chicago, you're probably at the bottom of your hockey pool standings.


3 Carey Price

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You might be sensing a Montreal Canadiens theme here and it's through no bias against the Habs; rather, it's an indictment on how awful the team has been this season in regard to expectation. The team was built, flawed as it might be, to contended for the playoffs, and one of the key players in that regard is goaltender Carey Price, who is a former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner. In the past, the Canadiens have been tough to beat when Price has been healthy, but that hasn't been the case this season.

While he has bailed them out in a few games this season, he has also had his fair share of awful performances. It seems to be the case that if the Canadiens do manage to score four goals, the opposition is scoring five on Price. Consequently, the BC native has a terrible 15-20-5 record to go along with a 2.92 goals against average and .919 save percentage.

2 Jonathan Toews

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We mentioned how Brandon Saad has been such a disappointment earlier and "Captain Serious" Jonathan Toews has been just as bad. In fact, you could lump most of the Blackhawks into this category save for Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, and Corey Crawford, who was excellent before suffering a season-ending injury. Toews, who once produced three consecutive seasons of 68-plus points, has only reached that mark once in the past five seasons and his point totals have gradually dipped in each of those years. He recorded 58 points last season and is well off that pace this year with only 36 points in 57 games.

That looks especially bad for the Blackhawks, who have Toews locked up for five more seasons at $10 million per, but as a fantasy manager, he would have been an attractive target in the early- to mid-rounds. His average draft position was 66 and, as of February 14, he was 96th in league scoring.


1 Erik Karlsson

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Most people expected Erik Karlsson to have a difficult start to his season after undergoing offseason surgery on his foot, but nobody expected the Swedish rearguard to be as bad as he has been. Not only is Karlsson getting beat flat-footed leading to opposition goals on a nightly basis, he isn't producing offensively at the same level he once did. The 27 year old was at near a point-per-game in terms of offensive production over the past two seasons, but has only 37 points in 50 games this year.

Those aren't bad numbers, but they are if you drafted Karlsson in the first round as most people did. His average draft position was 14.3 and he was the second defenseman on average off the board behind Brent Burns. If your league uses plus/minus as a category he has been killing you there as well as he's a league-worst minus-28.


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