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Top 15 NHL Players Who Fell Apart After Their Rookie Season

There’s nothing more satisfying and promising for an NHL player than enjoying a productive rookie season. Most players who post good numbers in their first year usually go on to enjoy a fine career. However, for one reason or another that’s not always the case. Some players impress as rookies, but then struggle to recreate the magic for the remainder of their careers. It’s not unusual to go through a sophomore jinx, but ending up in the minors shortly after having a good rookie season can often kill a player’s career.

There have been many good players who excelled as rookies before things went South. There are numerous possible reasons for this such as injuries, team politics, coaching, player and GM changes, as well as a loss of confidence. But perhaps some players just aren’t as good as their rookies campaigns would suggest. However, just because a player never lives up to his promise after a good rookie year doesn’t necessarily make him a bad or ineffective performer. And remember, a rookie is a player who hasn’t played more than 25 games in the NHL before his first full season.

This list is made up of 15 players whose career more or less started off strongly in their first full season in the NHL and then either went slightly or completely off the rails. Although it’s called the top 15 NHL players who fell apart after their rookie season it may be a little harsh to say they actually fell to pieces. Basically the list is filled with players who had a strong first season statistically before descending into a downward spiral for whatever reason. Oddly enough, nine of these players skated with the Toronto Maple Leafs at one time or another during their career and there’s just one active player, who’s also a Leaf.

15 Colin Greening

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

14 Bruce Boudreau

via russianmachineneverbreaks.com

13 Peter Ihnacak

via lastwordonsports.com

12 Andrew Raycroft

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

11 Dan Hodgson

via logodatabase.net

10 Kyle Wellwood

via cbssports.com

9 Nikolai Borschevsky

via thestar.com

8 Robb Stauber

via youtube.com

7 Rocky Saganiuk

via vintageleafs.blogspot.com

6 Steve Penney

via scottywazz.blogspot.com

5 Ken Hodge Jr.

via bestsportsphotos.com

4 Blaine Lacher

via greatesthockeylegends.com

3 Chris Valentine

via playershelpingplayers.com

2 Warren Young

1 Brit Selby

via thehockeywriters.com

The NHL was a different era in 1965-66, but it’s still hard to believe Maple Leafs’ forward Brit Selby won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year with just 27 points in 61 games. Winning such a prized trophy with those numbers meant Selby didn’t really have anywhere to go but down. Many hockey people thought he would easily eclipse his point total in the upcoming seasons, but the most he ever scored after that was 30 points in a year. Selby had scored 140 points as a junior with the Toronto Marlboros in 105 contests and scored twice in three games during a 1964-65 call up. The Leafs were expecting goals and assists from him and were as surprised as anybody when he won the Calder with 27 points. He was injured and sent to the minors the next season and the Leafs didn’t protect him the year after when the NHL expanded from 6 to 12 teams. The Flyers claimed him, but sent him back to Toronto after a season and a half. The Leafs then traded him to St. Louis a year later. By 1971 Selby was in the minors and he jumped to the rival WHA for his last three seasons. Selby retired in 1975 with 117 points in 347 NHL games.

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Top 15 NHL Players Who Fell Apart After Their Rookie Season