One of the most used terms in sports circles is “overrated.” Fans and experts alike throw the phrase around all the time when talking about players who get higher praise than they often deserve. Everyone has their opinion on this topic, and these opinions have fueled arguments for years. Of course, fans and the media can be very fickle about players and thus people’s opinions about players change on almost a daily basis.
One way that people often gauge how overrated a player might be is with their contract. However, this isn’t an accurate measure, as sometimes GMs have their hands tied and have to make some tough choices that don’t always work out. Also, the market at any given time can be a huge dictator of how big contracts become, which makes contracts an unreliable measure for overrated players, as the market is always changing.
So how can “overrated” even get measured? There are no official rules or guidelines, so for the purpose of this list, we’ve listed four criterion for the type of players we have included in this list:
1. Players who put up inflated stats on awful teams due to an inflated workload.
2. Players that used to be good, are passed their prime, but are still regarded as top players.
3. Players who have had one good season and haven’t proven they can sustain the success.
4. Players who are paid much more than they’re worth (We know this goes against what we said previously, but we're looking at players that are grossly overpaid, not slightly).
We feel that these four give a good understanding of how we are interpreting the term “overrated” for this list. Of course, you may disagree with some players on this list, but these are who we feel are the 15 most overrated players in the NHL last season.
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15 Dustin Byfuglien
Byfuglien first started to get attention from the media during the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup run in the 2010 Playoffs. Byfuglien was a brusing power forward who was scoring goals and was one of the emotional leaders of the team during that run. Following a trade to the Thrashers, he flourished in a position change to defenceman. Once the team moved to Winnipeg, however, he began to be outed as a liability on the defensive end and proven he is not as good a defender as everyone thought, which can be seen in his -20 rating from last season and from his pedestrian +5 rating from this season.
14 Thomas Vanek
For the longest time, Vanek was one of the best and sought after goal scorers in the league. He is a four-time 30 goal scorer and is always a threat to put the puck in the net every night. Once Vanek was traded to the Islanders in 2013, he's began his decline. Vanek's played for four different teams from 2013-2015 and was noted in particular for his horrible play in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs for the Montreal Canadiens, as he only scored 10 points in 17 games. Despite having a decent year for the Wild (52 points, -6), he is a far cry from the Thomas Vanek of his early Buffalo days.
13 Mike Smith
Mike Smith had the best season of his career in 2011/12, when he went off for 38 wins, a 2.21 GAAa and .930 save percentage. Since then, he has been inconsistent at best, and this season put up a horrid record of 14-42. People seem to always blame his defense and such, but perhaps he's not the goalie we thought he was. Having one great season as a player doesn’t mean you are a great player, and Smith is a great example of that.
12 David Perron
Perron had very high expectations when he was drafted in the first round of the 2007 draft by the St. Louis Blues. His career with the Blues could’ve been summed up with one simple word: “meh.” He was never that bad, but was never good enough to warrant his draft spot. Once traded to the Edmonton Oilers, Perron began to play like a star, scoring the most goals and points of his career in his one full season with the Oilers. The Oilers capitalized on this by trading him to the Penguins in 2015 for a first round pick and a prospect. Since joining the Pens, Perron didn't offer much (22 points in 43 games, -8 rating), proving that his good season with the Oilers was likely an anomaly.
11 Tyler Bozak
There is no doubt that Tyler Bozak is a serviceable NHL player who would have a role on most teams, albeit on the second or third line. The problem is that the Toronto Maple Leafs use him as their first line center, a role that he is not good enough for. He isn’t that great a physical player and struggles to generate much offense. Bozak has never gone for 50 points in a season and is currently on a deal paying him more than $four million a year. If that’s not overrated, I don’t know what is.
10 Justin Schultz
Schultz was one of the most coveted and hyped free agents in a while due to his outstanding scoring ability as a defender. When he chose to sign with the Oilers, the fan base and the entire city of Edmonton went nuts. He was so hyped that some foolishly believed that he'd help to turn around the fortune of the Oilers. He had a good rookie season with over .5 PPG, but that seems to have been his plateau, as he has not improved in the next two years and his he's currently -56 for his career. There's still time for Schultz to turn things around, but it's not obvious that he was overhyped and, at this point, overrated.
9 Alexander Semin
Aleaxander Semin absolutely flourished as a member of the Washington Capitals during the mid to late 2000s, playing with Alex Ovechkin. He enjoyed a ton of success with them, though he was inconsistent and some people incorrectly believed he was a superstar. After being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, he had one elite season, along with one average season and, as a result, was rewarded with a contract that pays him $7 million per year. Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, Semin was awful in 2015 and in no way deserves the amount of money he is currently being paid.
8 Antoine Vermette
Vermette, without a doubt, had his best career seasons as a member of the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets. After being traded to the Coyotes, he began to decline. He is still a great face off man and defensive forward, but doesn't offer much else going forward. This made it surprising when he was highly sought after at the deadline (there weren't many other available forwards) and acquired by the Chicago Blackhawks for a first round pick. He can be a helpful player, but a first round pick is a hefty price to pay for someone who is likely past his prime.
7 Patrick Marleau
When you think about the San Jose Sharks, the first player you likely think about is Patrick Marleau. Marleau has been a member of the Sharks for nearly 20 years and has been instrumental in their regular season success. Marleau was a big time scoring threat for much of his career, but in 2015, he only had 19 goals and 57 points in 82 games (along with a -17 rating), which is his lowest output for a full season in almost a decade. Marleau has been one of the better players in the league for a long time, but we think it's time to take him off that list.
6 Phil Kessel
Phil Kessel seems like a mainstay on lists like these and rightfully so. Kessel can do one thing very well and that's scoring goals, which is incredibly valuable. However, his issue is that he is not very well adept at doing much else on the ice. And at $8 million per year, teams expect more out of their star player than that. In his 2014/15 campaign, Kessel had his lowest goal output since his first two years and the Leafs, after a good start, found themselves out of the playoff race yet again. On top of his low scoring, he was a -34, which is atrocious. Kessel is not a bad player, but he is also not a player deserving of $8 million per year.
5 Zdeno Chara
Zdeno Chara has been a menacing force on the back end for almost 20 years and Chara is noted as being the biggest player in NHL history with one of the hardest shots ever. This along with his good offensive skills made him one of the best defenceman of the 2000s. In 2015, however, Chara experienced his worst season since he was with the Islanders and the Bruins missed the playoffs for the first in nearly 10 years. It’s time for people to realize that Chara is not as good as he once was, and shouldn’t be seen as a top defender anymore. He can still give quality minutes, but the Bruins needs to adapt their defensive system to center around Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug.
4 Jakub Voracek
Voracek’s inclusion on this list may come as a shock to some people. But, if you look back at the criteria, he satisfies a few of them. Voracek had a great season for an awful team in 2014/15 with the Philadelphia Flyers. He appears on this list because of the fact that this is first 80 point season in his seven year career and he is unlikely to replicate it. He had 20 more assists this season than in any other season in his career. We could be wrong, but don’t be shocked to see Voracek fall back to earth next season.
3 Jordan Staal
Staal has played an important role on some good teams, but his skill is often overhyped by fans and media alike. It is very likely that Jordan Staal gets a pass and is just seen as an important player because of his relation to Eric Staal. Jordan Staal has never put up more than 50 points in a season, something that you would expect a player who is getting paid $6 million per year. Staal is a good defensive player and penalty killer, but those skills alone don’t warrant his current pay cheque.
2 Dion Phaneuf
For years, Dion Phaneuf has been named the most overrated player in the NHL by his peers, according to surveys. It could be possible that all the negative press he is getting comes from being the captain of the most polarizing team in the NHL, but his play has also been less than stellar. His last few seasons in particular have been disappointing, with his points dropping steadily. He is still making $7 million per year, which is absurd for a player who is better suited as a 3rd of 4th defenseman.
1 Dustin Brown
We’ve come to the most overrated player currently in the NHL and it is none other than Los Angeles Kings captain, Dustin Brown. Brown has been overrated ever since the Kings' Stanley Cup win in 2012, when he scored 20 points in 20 playoff games. Since then, Brown has averaged less than 30 points per season, a far cry from his previous years. He has been unable to regain his previous glory and is no longer a real scoring threat in this league. Sadly, at this point, Brown is nothing more than an agitator and physical threat. A good third liner, but nothing more.
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