"The only sure thing about luck is that it will change," a quote by American author Bret Harte (1836-1902), will hopefully never be experienced by these players. All of them were blessed by the finicky Hockey Gods, the ones who use their invisible breath to change the course of a shot to ricochet off skates, sticks, and butts to find their way in the back of the net. The philosophies of luck have tried to be understood forever, and in terms of "bad Luck" or "good luck," many players are counting their lucky stars and eating "Lucky Charms," while others forever wonder what went wrong.
There is Dale Hawerchuk, Marcel Dionne, Peter Stastny, and more who electrified crowds, lead their teams, and fought for that elusive ring. There was just something that went wrong; a deflection that went wide or a pass that was a millisecond too slow or too fast. These legends are surrounded by awards, photos, trophies, but one question haunts them: What if... And then there are these players, who for the most part, have had their careers perfectly scripted by the Hockey Gods. They were drafted or traded to the ideal team. If any part of their journey was different, if these players didn't have the stars aligned for them, they most certainly wouldn't be as successful, and to put it more bluntly, would suck. If...
15 Jordan Eberle
If Eberle wasn't on the high flying Oilers, he'd be a bottom 6 forward almost anywhere else. The first pick in the Oilers' tanking process, he had the pleasure of being followed by and playing with Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Draisaitl, and eventually, the grand prize for losing, Connor McDavid. Yet after his sophomore season in 2011, his production and playing time has decreased. It's not so much that he isn't skilled because he has decent speed, a good shot, and can find open spots on the ice. It's just that he simply is not as good as people think. He's got no physical edge to his game, is easily rattled, and often disappears for long stretches during the season and in games.
He's had his share of highlight real goals, but if his luck runs out and the trade rumors come true, he could be even a bigger disappointment. If he can't be a consistent weapon on this offense and gets traded to one of the worst 16 teams in the league, he may slowly find himself as part of many, future trade packages.
14 14. Paul Stastny
Sometimes people talk about family members getting great jobs in the family business, and despite the Stastnys not owning the NHL, the youngest has certainly made the most of his name. While the older Stastnys electrified the NHL for a decade and for pennies compared to today's contracts, Paul, the son of arguably the greatest Stastny, Peter, is making $7 million a year for well, being a bust. He's played on the Blues, a perennially dominant team with a plethora of offensive weapons on offense and defense, and his numbers continually decline. He was signed by the Blues as that missing piece that could propel them into the Cup, but it never did, or will work. He is often injured, a playoff no show, and is too inconsistent. He would completely suck on any other team, say Arizona, but he is so grossly overpaid he wouldn't get a chance to prove it unless he's bought out.
13 Pekka Rinne
For a 6'5", 217 pound goaltender with ridiculously large pads, one of the most gifted and deepest defenses around, and a complete, top 6 offense, sunlight shouldn't be able to score. Sure, he's posted some gaudy regular season numbers and two, 40 win seasons, but he completely disappears in the playoffs. He has a below .500 playoff winning percentage, and if the NHL ever restricts the padding and gloves, the slow moving monster of a netminder will be exposed. Could you see him on Toronto? Andersen would send him packing within a day. Behind a young Flyers defense, he couldn't last a game vs. the Pens. If I were him, I'd offer a hometown discount because if he were on any other team he couldn't start the wave.
12 Jason Spezza
The oft injured, great play maker on Dallas should be counting his lucky "Stars" that he doesn't get traded anywhere but Pittsburgh or Edmonton. He's been lucky to play for the old, high flying Sens and newly high flying Stars. Chances are, though, his luck will change because he's not worth $7.5 million. With his contract and good fortune to play on offensive teams, he may soon find himself searching for a new team. Under a defensive minded coach or 80% of NHL teams, he'd be a non factor. He's too injury prone and fragile to play on a team that would need 20 minutes from a center, and most teams aren't deep enough on the wing for him to be their 2nd line center or power play leader. He's a great teammate, he's made the most of a career blessed by the Hockey Gods, but he should retire if he's sent elsewhere.
11 Patrick Maroon
If it weren't for the fact that Maroon only imposes his physical strength against smaller, weaker players, he'd be more likeable and deserving of his blessed roles. A former mid round draft pick who believed in himself more than the Philadelphia Flyers did, he was shipped to Anaheim where he started making a name for himself. With the Ducks, he enjoyed playing with Getzlaf and Perry, and was able to chip in some offense. He also accumulated plenty of penalty minutes by being all to willing to fight players half his size and hang on to the ones that could seek revenge. He never scored more than 11 goals in a season with the Ducks, but now with Edmonton he's having a career year with 25 goals.
He'd better hope he avoids a trade to again, anywhere but Pittsburgh or Chicago. He should also hope he doesn't fall into "The Hot Tub Time Machine," where he'd be a 4th line wing, part time player, and couldn't hug his way out of an even fight.
10 Daniel Sedin
So many writers and NHL people dub the Sedins as superstars and Daniel as the true goal scorer, but they are just wrong. Daniel has had some nice seasons but scored 40 goals once in 17 seasons and is far below averaging a point per game. His ability to take over a game is non existent, he's soft, and for 17 years his playoff contribution is abysmal. If this is what he's amounted to while playing alongside his brother and sharing that mental ESP, what do you think he'd do in Carolina? The Sedins have positively impacted whoever joins their line, but it's never brought and will never bring them postseason success. I don't even think they should cut the chord or take George Costanza's advice: If playing together hasn't worked, then the opposite must be true, and they should separate. Heaven help those teams that buy into that philosophy.
9 Henrik Sedin
Poor Vancouver, because it is a great city and better hockey city. Yet, they've watched time fly by and the other half, Henrik, hasn't scored 20 goals in eight years. Yet, he continues to lead a Vancouver team, well, nowhere. Playing alongside Daniel and making over $7 million a year is awesome, but what about the fans and organization? To be fair, there have been many brothers who have played together and not won a Cup or been as statistically impressive, but these two should see what it's like on other teams. Henrik, the assist master, would skate around in circles unable to make an impact unless he played with Ovechkin. If he were on any of the average NHL clubs, his stats would continue to decline. Unless, of course, if he joined his brother in Carolina where their reign of mediocrity would continue.
8 Marian Hossa
The 38-year-old vet has had a great career, playing for some of the most legendary teams and players in the current NHL. He's won the Cup, been a dynamic scorer, and a key contributor on every team he's played. It's also helped that he's chosen only to play for teams on the cusp of winning Lord Stanley's Cup. In that role, he's a key 2nd line forward, power play contributor, and special teams player. But what if he decided to bring about a resurgence in Colorado, Detroit, or Philly? He wouldn't last a day. In fact, he couldn't even help borderline teams like Boston or the Isles. But hey, after this stint with Chicago, he may be able to join Pittsburgh or Washington and continue piling up rings.
7 James Neal
The 28-year-old veteran has played for Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Nashville. Nice. Despite those offensive teams, he's only had one point per game season and hasn't sniffed that success since 2011. That's six years! However, he has certainly been involved in his share of dirty play (which as a hockey fan I don't really mind), and is dangerous on the power play. But how would this borderline 30 goal scorer do being centered by players half as talented as Forsberg or Crosby? He'd stink and be lucky to score 15 goals. Still, I bet most GMs aren't onto him and think he could score 40 anywhere and would pay him a fortune. But boy would they be disappointed, for Neal's productivity is based on being surrounded by talented, deep teams and there are only a few of those.
6 Derek Stepan
On a deep and successful team he's established himself as a consistent, 2nd liner stuck in that dreaded 50 point level. He can play a little on the power play and shorthanded. He's about a half a point per game player in the playoffs, and the reality is, he's just a solid player. He's not locked into the "friend zone," for he may yet stumble on some locked up potential, but the bet here is on any other team he'd be a 30 point player. Still, he's just tantalizing enough that teams will take a shot on him. He'll make a career being a 3rd line specialty player on many other teams, and probably be gone from the Rangers when they finally swallow the fact their window has closed.
5 Evgeny Kuznetsov
The moment his impending cap friendly deal expires, he will cash in big time and be one of the biggest free agent busts of the modern cap era. He's got some unbelievable highlight reel goals and his "best of tape" is a must see. Furthermore, he's only 24, and combined with that tape he'll have GMs emptying their pocketbooks. In just his 3rd NHL season he had a break out year with 20 goals and 57 assists playing with Ovechkin, Backstrom, the rest of the Caps, add feeding off prime power play minutes. But this year, with even better supporting players, his game has taken a step back. Why? He's just not dynamic enough to recognize his positioning, maneuver in tight spaces, and to compete when he's singled out. Still, GMs will fall in love with his open ice moves and speed game, and be sorry and wrong when they pay him to change the fate of their average teams.
4 Chris Kunitz
In his past life, he must have been Dale Hawerchuk. In his rookie year, the undrafted forward was carried by the likes of Selanne, Niedermayer, Perry, Pronger, Getzlaf, and won the Cup in 2007 with the Ducks. He soon fell down to earth where he was blessed to play with Crosby and Malkin and win two more Cups with the Pens. If he had been on any other team, he would not only suck, but retire. His slightly better than average statistics, power play points, and half hearted gritty game would barely pass as pedestrian anywhere else.
He's the perfect example of why it's a good idea to have good friends in high places. Not only have the Penguins' superstars kept him in the league, but they've paved the way for him to earn nearly $4 million a year. And somewhere, where it's really cold, Hawerchuck has to be wondering,"Why not me."
3 Justin Schultz
The highly sought after free agent defenseman joined the NHL in 2012 with the Edmonton Oilers and was immediately terrible. He didn't show any of the offensive instincts everyone expected and his defensive game was even worse. He was out muscled, couldn't use his angles or stick, and seemed to have lost any confidence. He was shipped out to, you guessed it, Pittsburgh, and, you guessed it, won the Cup in 2016. Now, in his first full season with the Pens, he's playing like everyone thought he would. He's solid while 5 on 5, killing it on the power play, and he will be an unrestricted free agent and ready to cash in at the end of the year. If he was smart, he'd take less money and enjoy a few more years of success and maybe a Cup or two. If he goes for the money, and some team will pay him double, we'll see the same old mediocre Schultz on another team. But, he'll be traded back to Pittsburgh.
2 Devan Dubnyk
Every GM in the league was kicking themselves for not trading for and seeing what Dubnyk could do. After all, he was a 1st round draft pick at the start of Edmonton's tanking strategy and was just awful behind a terrible team and defense. Then, he went to Nashville for a whopping two games and the Coyotes for 19 more. Luckily for the monstrous netminder with inflatable pads, he joined one of the most defensively minded teams with an incredibly deep and steady defense. And suddenly, poof, he's turned into one of the great feel good stories in the NHL. The reality is, after two and a half years, he is now becoming mortal and coming down to earth.
It would have come sooner if the NHL would only do something about the size of the goalie equipment, the leg pads that flare into a butterfly, and actually make the goalies have to make saves.
1 Henrik Lundqvist
"The King," as they call him, is merely at this point, and was for the past few years, an average goalie. Sure, he was able to put together incredible regular season stats that would make The Garden crowd chant his name, but ask that same crowd what they really saw. Henrik is an above average goalie with five solid defenseman and four decent lines in front of him, and the good teams always expose him. Sure, he could blank a rebuilding Flyers team, an offensively challenged Devil team, and any other team that wasn't elite. But when it came down to Montreal, Washington, and Pittsburgh, Henrik was often found whining to the refs, flipping over the net in disgust, and throwing his hands in the air. On a lesser team, just like most other goalies, he'd be sitting on his backside, staring at the sky, and the game winning goal would be resting in his net.