The burden of expectations is not for everyone.
Year after year, the top players in the National Hockey League are called upon by their teams (and their fantasy hockey owners, for that matter) to produce at an elite level, based on past successes or the (usually) logical assumption that younger, developing players will continue their ascension to stardom with a breakout season.
The burden of expectation is nothing new for some on this list. For others, it has blindsided them, and the 2015-2016 campaign - despite it being only half a season old - is on the verge of being a complete wash, save for a late season burst back to relevance.
With that in mind, it might in fact be too early to write off this season for some of the names on this list. There is still plenty of time for them to turn their year around with as strong second half - even if it might be too late for their teams to climb back into the playoff race.
The disappointing start to the season for some of the game's biggest name has fans and pundits wondering whether the sport needs another rule overhaul to increase scoring across the board.
On the other hand, it quite possible that the problem is much simpler than the size of the nets or the amount of times referees award penalties. Perhaps the hype around certain players was too loud for them too handle. Perhaps certain big names are dealing with uncontrollable factors, be it injuries or off-ice issues.
For others, it might just be a matter of the rest of the league catching up to them.
Whatever the reason may be, one thing is for certain. The names on this list came into this season with sky-high expectations, but so far have been incapable of taking off and reaching the lofty goals set for them.
*Stats are correct as of January 2nd, 2016.
15 15. Cam Talbot
It's hard enough being Henrik Lundqvist's backup - it's even harder to have to take over for him during one of the tougher stretches of the season and play to (if not better, at times) to the level of King Henrik. Cam Talbot stared down the barrel of the gun last season and performed well enough to draw attention from teams looking for a starting goaltender.
14 14. Ryan Miller
13 13. Milan Lucic
Bruins fans were stunned and saddened when they were hit with the news that Milan Lucic had been shipped across the country to play out the final year of his contract with the Los Angeles Kings.
12 12. Nick Foligno
Following a career year in which he put up a surprising 31 goals and 73 points, Nick Foligno came into the 2015-2016 season with the bar set much higher than it was at the beginning of last year, or any season of his career for that matter.
11 11. P.K. Subban
P.K. Subban headed into the summer as a Norris Trophy finalist. He came into this season with an A stitched onto his Montreal Canadiens uniform. The (hockey) world was at his feet and he had a chance to make it his season, to quiet doubters and take his game to an even higher level.
10 10. Filip Forsberg
9 9. Brandon Saad
Brandon Saad was arguably the hottest commodity on the trade market last season and when he landed in Columbus he was expected to take the next step in becoming an elite NHL scorer - especially if he was going to play along the likes of Ryan Johansen. The two were expected to become the next up-and-coming dynamic duo in the league and would be the pillars that would carry the Blue Jackets to the promised land this season.
8 8. Corey Perry
For most players, 13 goals in 37 games would constitute a solid start to the season.
Then again, Corey Perry isn't most players. Perry, along with most of his Anaheim Ducks teammates, struggled early on in the season and are only now starting to round into a shell of the team that nearly went to the Cup Final last season (and likely would have won if they hadn't been knocked off by the Blackhawks).
7 7. Mark Giordano
Remember when Mark Giordano was the certain Norris Trophy winner halfway through last season?
6 6. Phil Kessel
Phil Kessel went from being the brunt of 90% of jokes in Toronto to being the player everyone expected to blow up this season alongside one of the two Penguins elite centers. How many people had Kessel penciled in for close to 50 goals before the season?
5 5. Sergei Bobrovsky
Considered by many to be among the best goaltenders in the league, Sergei Bobrovksy - along with many experts around the hockey world - had high hopes for this season. Just two years removed from his first Vezina trophy and coming off back-to-back thirty-win seasons, Bobrovsky was expected to carve out a spot alongside Price, Lundqvist, Holtby and Quick this season.
4 4. Jakub Voracek
Jakub Voracek had seemingly figured everything out last season - he put up a career 81 points and looked prime to continue to be an offensive force this season. Once considered an enigmatic player with a ton of potential, Voracek had finally arrived. Some even threw his name out as a player who could challenge for the Art Ross Trophy this season.
3 3. Ryan Getzlaf
No one had any surprising proclamations to make about Ryan Getzlaf before the season, because he's established himself as one of the league's premier centers over the past decade - so no one was expecting anything different this year.
Perhaps they should have. Getzlaf's numbers have been frightening, to say the least. He only has three goals in 31 games this year and has to take part of the blame for the Ducks lethargic starts.
2 2. Sidney Crosby
If we're calling Ryan Getzlaf's start to the season surprising, what word can be used to describe the numbers Sidney Crosby has put up so far this year?
Use whatever word you want. The fact of the matter is that Sid the Kid looks off - that, and the fact that Sid isn't a kid anymore. He's nearly 30 years old and is currently playing in his 11th season. It was Christmas in July when the Pens acquired the aforementioned Phil Kessel, but the two have been unable to mesh so far this year. It's never a good thing when people are wondering whether or not Crosby can play with anyone, let alone one of the league's better shooters.
Here's a sentence that should worry anyone who claims to be a Crosby fan: Sidney Crosby is arguably the best player in the NHL. Arguably...arguably?!
1 1. Ryan Johansen
Crosby can thank a rival for sparing him the dishonor of taking the top spot on this list.
To say Ryan Johansen's season has been disastrous thus far would be putting it lightly. He broke through last year with 71 points last season, but has been able to take the next step to super stardom that everyone thought he was going to take this year.
Sure, Johansen still has 25 points in 36 games, but he's been hard-pressed to find the back of the net, has been a turnover machine, has been benched, scratched and called out by his coach, and overall has looked nothing like the player who terrorized opponents last season.
Johansen is likely just going through a rough stretch and he's still only 23 years old. There is plenty of time for Johansen to make everyone forget about the beginning of this season. That said, he might have to do it in another uniform, as things in Columbus have taken a very quick - and very unexpected - turn for the worst.
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