Hockey is the only big sport that is designed to favor all teams fairly equally when the playoffs start. Low seeds in the NBA rarely move on past the first round, much less the second. Only six teams make the playoffs in each conference in the NFL. Only five teams make the playoffs in each league in the MLB. Generally, you don't see as many dumb plays and poor players in the playoffs of those leagues. But in the NHL, where there are 16 total teams and a whole lot of fourth-line guys who can't handle a puck, even the best teams have some very weak links.
When thinking about this article, I was reminded of those who were picked last for kickball in recess. There's always a couple that weren't very coordinated or un-athletic and ended up making your team lose. This list is essentially the kids who don't contribute a lot and make boneheaded plays. But they're all making more money than us.
In order to put together this list, I dug into some analytics of hockey and watched some lowlights to make an informed decision. I'm sure that some of my choices will be disagreed upon. So go ahead and let me know in the comments. I'll be happy to discuss.
15 Beau Bennett, Pittsburgh Penguins - 2016
This is the first California born and trained player to win the Stanley Cup. If Beau Bennett is the shining example that all other Californian players will be looking up to, then I suggest either moving out of the state or looking up to somebody else. Often injured, Bennett managed to outdo even himself in October 2015 by getting hurt while celebrating a goal. It's weird because hockey has some of the lowest-impact celebrations in the sports world. There's no hanging on the basketball rim or jumping four feet in the air to dunk a football. As long as you don't bounce into the boards, you should be fine. Of course, that's exactly what Bennett did. He's been injured off and on for his whole career and for a kid that's only 24, that's pretty awful. In the playoffs, he only managed to see ice time in one game, where he was a -2. After the season, he was promptly traded to the New Jersey Devils. Maybe their boards are lined with feathers.
14 David Rundblad, Chicago Blackhawks - 2015
As an Illinois native and gigantic Blackhawks fan, these entries are going to bring back some great, yet chilling memories. In the 2014-15 season, there were so many great moments and great signings. This was not one of them. The Blackhawks management allowed David Rundblad to play in 49 regular season games. He had a respectable 14 points, but that doesn't discount the poor positioning and frequent turnovers that plagued him. His offensive skills didn't make up for his lack of defensive skills. His confidence seemed to decrease each time he was on the ice, leading to more turnovers, thus creating a cycle that was quite tough to escape. Even though he only played 10 minutes per game, he seemed to make at least three notable mistakes that would lead to shots. In the playoffs, he only managed to see ice time in five games and did not record a point. He is currently a free agent.
13 Jordan Nolan, Los Angeles Kings - 2014
Pretty much every team, whether they're at the bottom of the standings or the top, has an enforcer-type player. It's almost a necessity. These players protect the stars and that's pretty much their only role. Sure, they might forecheck a little and score the occasional goal, but their mission is to get on the ice and make somebody mad. Too bad the people Jordan Nolan antagonizes are often Kings fans. He's a decent forechecker, but it's too often that he doesn't show up every shift. That leads to the other team beating the Kings down the ice and getting good chances. Along with some awful penalties and questionable hits including a sucker punch to Jesse Joensuu, Nolan hasn't exactly endeared himself to Kings fans. Nolan had 10 points in the regular season and played in 64 games. But in the playoffs, he was rendered completely ineffective in his three games and was a -3. He still plays for the Kings and hasn't eclipsed the ten-point mark.
12 Daniel Carcillo, Chicago Blackhawks - 2013
From all accounts that I've heard, Daniel Carcillo is one of the best human beings outside of a hockey rink. His Chapter 5 Foundation is wonderful and a great asset to any players struggling with post-concussion syndrome and more. Inside the rink is another story. Carcillo played his career with reckless abandon and made my father and I scream many various obscenities at his "hockey plays." I just don't understand why he was on the possession-heavy finesse-style Blackhawks. His punishing style worked fine when he was on the Coyotes and the Flyers, but he always seemed a step behind on the Blackhawks. It was like trying to put a square peg into a round hole. The coaching staff tried to mold Carcillo into a controlled-aggression style of player but it never worked out. He had three points in the lockout-shortened season and only appeared in four playoff games, unsurprisingly being a non-factor.
11 Colin Fraser, Los Angeles Kings - 2012
As I mentioned earlier, I'm a Blackhawks fan, so I figured I would have to weave Colin Fraser into a team somewhere. I think he fits best on this Los Angeles Kings team because he was actually a pretty large part of it. As a Blackhawk, Fraser put up double-digit point totals in the two full seasons he played there, but after making his way to Los Angeles, the point totals went down and the penalty minutes went up. I don't think I ever saw him win a fight in his career. Fraser was just a completely average player. He wasn't particularity strong offensively. He wasn't particularly strong defensively. He wasn't particularly gritty or fast. He was just an average hockey player that didn't do anything to stand out. I'm not surprised that in 67 regular season games he only had 8 points and in 18 playoff games he only had 2 points. He retired from professional hockey in November 2015 for personal reasons.
10 Shawn Thornton, Boston Bruins - 2011
One of the main duties of an enforcer is to fight when necessary. It's best to fight when your team needs an energy boost or a kick in the pants to get going. Regardless if it's a win or a loss, teammates often will start the next shift with a burst of energy. Evidently, this doesn't happen when Shawn Thornton fights, though. The Bruins team earned more points in games when Thornton doesn't fight rather than when he does. This is strange because Thornton possesses more offensive skills than the typical enforcers. He scored 20 points this season with ten goals and ten assists. But in the playoffs, the benefits of a hard-hitting style often go away. Of course, the 2010-11 Bruins are an outlier to that mindset. They had the 2nd most fighting majors and still won the Stanley Cup. However, it wasn't thanks to Thornton, who only managed one point in 18 games.
9 Jordan Hendry, Chicago Blackhawks - 2010
While I was thinking about this entry, I had originally pegged Ben Eager as the worst player on this team, but then I remembered the Jordan Hendry experiment that failed so hard. In 2010, Jordan Hendry always did well on my NHL 10 team. I tried to transfer his 25 points and improved rating to the real Jordan Hendry by all possible means. Hoping, praying, swearing, cursing, and more were experimented with, but none of them worked and Hendry never improved. He played 131 games in the NHL and could never get anything going. In the 2009-10 season he managed a whopping eight points in 43 games. But he was by far the worst player on the Blackhawks in the playoffs. He saw ice time in 15 games and didn't manage a single point. His plus/minus rating was -4 and thankfully didn't cause the Blackhawks to lose in the Stanley Cup finals.
8 Matt Cooke, Pittsburgh Penguins - 2009
He may have scored 31 points in the regular season and he may have scored seven points in the playoffs. He may have helped the Penguins win the 2008-2009 Stanley Cup. He may have attempted to clean up his game, but Matt Cooke will always be a dirty hockey player. This season was no different than many others. He was suspended twice for the same reason. In November 2008 he received a two-game suspension for hitting Artem Anisimov in the head. Cooke didn't learn his lesson and received another two-game suspension for a hit to the head of Scott Walker in January 2009. There simply isn't any place for his style of play in the NHL and there still should be more punishment for head shots. The peskiness and hard hits still have a place, but if you're going to be targeting the face, go take up boxing or MMA and get off the rink.
7 Brett Lebda, Detroit Red Wings - 2008
Brett Lebda is a suburban Chicago native and was often paired with the great Chris Chelios while in Detroit. Too bad the great play of Chelios never rubbed off on the sub-par play of Lebda. In the 2007-2008 season, Lebda was 26 and Chelios was 46. Lebda only managed to outscore Chelios by two points despite playing nine games more and his measly 3.3 points share was easily the lowest of the top six defensemen. Obviously, his offensive and defensive point share were the lowest as well. In 19 playoff games, Lebda had two assists. That's all. For a guy who averaged about 16 minutes per game, those numbers are abysmal. That's strange because he was a very mobile defender and a decent passer. However, his moderately average offensive performance was overshadowed by his trashy defensive performance. He had the least amount of blocked shots among the top six defensemen and his decision-making wasn't a strong suit either. It's amazing that the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in spite of Lebda.
6 Kent Huskins, Anaheim Ducks - 2007
Similar to Brett Lebda, Kent Huskins somehow managed to do absolutely nothing with his time on the ice. He averaged about 14 minutes in the regular season and 12 minutes in the playoffs. He only managed three points in 33 regular-season games and one point in 21 playoff games. Therefore, it's unsurprising that his point share was the worst among all the defenders on the team. Sure he wasn't an offensive defenseman, but his defense was bad too. His awareness always seemed to be a weak point and he would routinely leave the best players on the ice with too much room to work. I remember seeing a clip of Huskins deciding that Alexander Ovechkin didn't need to be marked. About two seconds later, Ovechkin ripped a one-timer into the back of the net. Huskins just shook his head. Dude, it's your fault! Maybe next time actually try and be physical with somebody rather than just letting them skate around.
5 Kevyn Adams, Carolina Hurricanes - 2006
In one of his best seasons as a professional hockey player, Kevyn Adams still managed to look awful in the playoffs. In his career, Adams was never more than a 29 point-per-season scorer. This particular season was one of his strongest offensively, as he registered 15 goals and eight assists. But in the playoffs, Adams didn't show up. In 25 playoff games, he failed to register a single point and was a -4. He didn't help the Hurricanes one single bit. He averaged just under twelve minutes of ice time per game in the playoffs and did nothing with it. Andrew Ladd played in less games and averaged less ice time, but still managed to help out with five points. So far, I've never seen a player play in every playoff game and not obtain a single point. What happened between the regular season and the playoffs? Whatever it was, at least Adams didn't subject any other teams to his lack of production after this.
4 Chris Dingman, Tampa Bay Lightning - 2004
Chris Dingman is your typical goon. I'm surprised that the Lightning actually had him dress in every playoff game this season. In the regular season, Dingman played in 74 games, scored one goal, tallied five assists, racked up 140 penalty minutes, and tied for the worst plus/minus rating on the team with -9. All in all, he wasn't very effective when he was on the ice. He had the worst offensive, defensive, and total points share on the team. I would think that when a player being on the ice is losing you games and literally contributing worse than zero (his points share was -0.7), then maybe they shouldn't play that much. In the playoffs, it was more of the same. He played in all 23 games, scored one goal, had one assist, racked up 63 penalty minutes, and surprisingly finished at +1, right in the middle of the pack.
3 Ken Daneyko, New Jersey Devils - 2003
Every team has that one player that needs to just go away. For the 2002-2003 New Jersey Devils, that player was Ken Daneyko. Before that season season, Daneyko was a staple of the Devils defense and a bruiser, crusher, and masher of bodies with Scott Stevens and others. However, it seems as though this season was the one where his body started to drastically slow down and inhibit his play. Usually, this means that a person's offensive statistics will diminish. This certainly happened with Daneyko, but his penalty minutes declined drastically as well. Simply put, the game started to pass him by. For the first time since 1988, he was scratched in the playoffs and only appeared in 13 games, including only game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. In those games, he didn't register a point or make much of an impact, but he was part of the final shift before the victory.
2 Jason Williams, Detroit Red Wings - 2002
This was easily the toughest lineup to find somebody who wasn't good. In all the other ones, there's outliers and guys who didn't fit the mold. On this 2001-2002, Detroit Red Wings team, there isn't a weak link. Williams is one of the weaker links, though, and for that he shall be punished. Why couldn't you play like Steve Yzerman or Brett Hull? Williams was ranked near the bottom of all the different types of points shares. To be fair, he had the best shooting percentage on the team, with eight goals in 32 shots. That's pretty awesome, and even the best players in the league couldn't hit that mark. Regardless, Williams didn't accomplish much and due to his substandard play in the regular season, and only saw ice time in nine games. It doesn't help that much of the Red Wings lineup was the same in every game. But heck, it's his job to crack it! Even Dominik Hasek scored more points in the playoffs (1) than Williams did (0).
1 Dave Reid, Colorado Avalanche - 2001
In an effort to not duplicate entries, I decided not to list Chris Dingman again, instead going with Dave Reid. Reid had a fairly ineffective regular season campaign, obtaining only ten points in 73 games. He was a +1, but on a team with this much offensive firepower, that isn't exactly impressive. His point share numbers were rough as well. Offensively, he had the worst points share on the team with -0.9. Defensively, he was scraping the bottom with 0.8, and his overall points share tied for the team worst. In the playoffs, he had zero goals and four assists in 18 games, which was fine for a fourth-line player. Similar to Daneyko, Reid was at the end of his career and it was obvious that it was time to hang up the skates. I don't believe that Reid had the honor of finishing game seven of this series on the ice, but then again, he didn't have the career that Daneyko did.