Coming up with a list of the worst NHL players used to be a bit of an easier endeavor since each team’s resident goon/enforcer was typically his squad's worst performer. These guys couldn’t be trusted with more than a handful of shifts each game and they never had the chance to develop their skills. However, this species of player has more or less gone the way of the dinosaur and is now close to being extinct. There are a few relics hanging around the league though, but today’s game focuses on skill and speed.
This is a list of the worst 15 players in the NHL at the moment. Some of them had decent careers, but they’re now in the twilight of them, while others never really got going at all since they broke into the league. To be fair, we’ve left this year’s crop of rookies alone since they’re just getting their feet wet and adjusting to the speed and strength of the opposition. The one thing all 15 of these players have in common though is the fact that they’re not producing in the 2015-16 campaign.
Hockey now features an endless stream of statistical information for insiders and fans to ponder, such as Corsi and Fenwick stats. But the bottom line has always been and always will be putting the puck in the net. If you don’t outscore the opposition, you don’t win. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter how many faceoffs you win, how many shots you put on net, and how many you block. It all comes down to scoring. Having the puck for 60 per cent of the game doesn’t mean anything at all unless you collect a pair of points at the final buzzer. The following 15 players are simply not producing for their teams and that’s why they’re currently the worst out there.
*Stats are correct as of March 7th, 2016.
15 Jared Cowen - Toronto Maple Leafs
Jared Cowen has all of the physical tools to be an effective defenceman. The 25-year-old was drafted ninth overall by Ottawa back in 2009, but things have gotten so bad that the worst team in the league doesn’t want him. Cowen was acquired by the Leafs in the Dion Phaneuf trade after posting four assists in 37 contests with the Senators this season. But instead of giving Cowen a fair shake and seeing what he has to offer, the Leafs shut him down for the season and announced they’ll be buying him out in the summer. Cowen has put up 46 points on the board in 249 career games. He was the 56th-worst player this season according to Corsi stats at 42.8. He’ll soon be hoping to find a team willing to give him a chance as a free agent.
14 Boyd Gordon - Arizona Coyotes
Boyd Gordon of the Arizona Coyotes debuted as a rookie with Washington back in 2003-04. He’s been a decent faceoff man over the years, by winning an average of 56.9% of his draws, but he’s found it difficult to rack up points. After 48 outings this season, Gordon doesn’t have a single goal and has contributed just two assists to this team. Gordon has 158 points in 676 career games with Washington, Edmonton, and Arizona. He’s never scored more than eight goals in a season with his career high in points being 29 in his third season. The game appears to be passing Gordon by and he’s struggling mightily to contribute on the scoreboard. Gordon’s Corsi was ranked 69th-worst this season out of an eligible 744 players at 43.4.
13 Deryk Engelland - Calgary Flames
Thirty-three-year old defenceman Deryk Engelland of the Calgary Flames isn’t really an enforcer, but he’s not too far from it. He’s served 401 penalty minutes in 376 career games and has racked up 65 points. Top it off, for a stay-home defender, he has a terrible career+/- of -16. Engelland has seven points in 57 games this season. He broke into the league with Pittsburgh in 2009-10 and joined Calgary in 2014-15 on a three-year deal that’s worth close to $9 million. At his age and with a traditional low Corsi, he’s 44.4 this year; Engelland may have a hard time staying in the league once his generous contract runs out in Calgary.
12 Jay McClement - Carolina Hurricanes
Jay McClement of the Carolina Hurricanes is another player who is known as a defensive specialist and is hanging onto a roster spot by being a decent faceoff man. The 33-year-old has netted one goal in 61 games, which simply isn’t good enough, especially considering he has just eight assists to accompany it. But while McClement’s supposed to be a good checker, he has a career mark of minus-102 in his 825 appearances. He’s scored 234 points in those games and at this stage of his career could easily be replaced by a young prospect. McClement’s reached the ten goalmark just three times in 11 seasons since debuting with St. Louis in 2005-06.
11 Rob Scuderi - Los Angeles Kings
Defenceman Rob Scuderi can now unpack his suitcase since the trade deadline has come and gone. The 37-year-old has bounced around from team to team this season as he’s gone from Pittsburgh to Chicago and is now out on the West Coast with the Los Angeles Kings. Scuderi has never had a scoring knack and has just eight goals and 97 assists in 766 career games. He’s been pretty good in his own end throughout his career though, but the writing’s now on the wall for him. After being traded twice this season, the aging Scuderi may want to consider retirement in the summer as he’s just three years shy of hitting 40 and managed to be a negative player on a Chicago Blackhawks team known for filling the net.
10 Gregory Campbell - Columbus Blue Jackets
Gregory Campbell is 32-years-old now and struggling this season. His ice time has been reduced to below 10 minutes per game recently and he doesn’t have much of a scoring touch. Campbell has just two goals and four assists in 66 games this year. He’s also just 47.3% in the faceoff circle this year and only has 182 points in 785 career contests with Florida, Boston, and Columbus. With his inability to score, you'd hope he'd be responsible in his own end, but Campbell is -38 for his career. In addition, his Corsi is 41.1 this campaign, which is 24th worst in the league.
9 Fedor Tyutin - Columbus Blue Jackets
Russian defencemen Fedor Tyutin has had a pretty good NHL career, but he’s lost his way with the Columbus Blue Jackets this season. The 32-year-old is still logging his regular ice time, but his offensive contributions have been almost nonexistent with just a single goal and two assists in 54 games. Tyutin is minus-30 for his career and has a respectable 251 points in 796 career games, but he needs to chip in a lot more than he has done this season if he hopes to keep his job.
8 Anton Lander - Edmonton Oilers
Anton Lander plays center with one of the youngest and most dynamic offenses in the league, but somehow he’s been left behind. The 24-year-old native of Sweden has been getting up to 15 minutes of ice time a night, but has just one goal and two assists this season in 57 contests. Lander played 56 games as a rookie in 2011-12 and bounced between the NHL and AHL over the next three seasons. He has just 31 points in 189 career games. Lander’s young enough to turn things around, but it appears he’s just not ready for the NHL right now.
7 Alexei Emelin - Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens have sunk down the standings after getting off to a hot start and it looks like they’re just a one-man team, with goaltender Carey Price being that man. Without Price, fans hoped other veterans would pick up the slack. Twenty-nine-year-old Russian defenceman Alexei Emelin doesn’t play 20 minutes a night for his offensive skills, but you’d think that after 56 games this season, he’d have at least one goal. He doesn’t though. Emelin has just eight assists to his name, has taken too many bad penalties this year (along with being a -9) and just hasn’t helped his team out much at all. He’s scored just 12 times in 287 career contests and has a career rating of -21.
6 Kevin Porter - Pittsburgh Penguins
Kevin Porter has played 247 career games with Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Colorado, and Arizona since breaking into the league with the Coyotes in 2008-09. He’s posted 29 goals and 29 assists since then, but has just three assists in 41 outings with a good Penguins team this year. He also went goalless with the Sabres in a dozen contests last season and has been a minus player every year, making him minus-26 for his career. It’s hard to see why Porter is still in the league at the moment. The 29-year-old also struggles in the faceoff circle, which is evident by his career winning percentage of 38.3 on the draw. He’s just 5-feet-11-inches tall and isn’t a physical player. as Porter has just 60 penalty minutes for his career, including none this season. The Penguins must see something in him though, which nobody else can.
5 Ryan Reaves - St. Louis Blues
Right winger Ryan Reaves patrols the right side with a good St. Louis Blues team, but rarely sees the ice. He’s part of a dying breed right now, as he’s more or less played for his brawn rather than his skill. The 29-year-old has racked up 565 penalty minutes in 326 career games to go along with just 20 goals and 17 assists. His totals after 51 games this year are just three goals and no assists. Reaves has never scored more than six goals in a season as of yet and there’s a good chance he never will.
4 Derek Dorsett - Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks will likely miss the playoffs this season due to a lack of goalscoring and a weak defence. Instead of playing 29-year-old right winger Derek Dorsett about 12 minutes a night, the Canucks might have fared better if they iced somebody with a little more skill. Dorsett has played 61 games with the Canucks this season and has helped out with just three goals and eight assists. He’s spent 153 minutes in the penalty box in 2015-16 (which leads the league at the moment) and has served 1,183 minutes in 472 career outings. Dorsett might not be a bad player if he concentrated on hockey rather than enforcing. He’s produced 109 career points and is minus-40 as of now.
3 Paul Gaustad - Nashville Predators
Paul Gaustad of the Nashville Predators might have hung on for one season too many. The 34-year-old has had a good career, but you’d never know it by looking at his stats this season. The former Sabre has fine leadership qualities and is a good faceoff man, but has just two goals and four assists in 56 contests in 2015-16. His Corsi rating is also quite bad as it’s the 15th-worst in the league at 39.5. Gaustad also struggled last year with just four goals and 14 points in 71 games and he’s totaled 231 points in 721 career appearances. It may be time to hang up the skates now though.
2 David Clarkson - Columbus Blue Jackets
Forward David Clarkson’s career has been a trainwreck ever since the Maple Leafs signed him to a ridiculous contract as a free agent a few years ago. The Leafs preferred to pay an injured Nathan Horton rather than Clarkson and he was miraculously taken in a trade by Columbus last season in a major blunder for that club. The winger’s Corsi is 41.2 and, when he isn’t in the infirmary, he simply doesn’t produce on the ice with three points in 21 outings this year. He’s living off of one good season of 30 goals for New Jersey back in 2011-12, but has done nothing of note since then. The 31-year-old is lucky to see 10 minutes of ice time per game these days. He may have 198 points in 566 career games, but is a -66 and may have played himself out of the league. Even so, he’s still got millions of dollars coming to him in contract money.
1 Zac Rinaldo - Boston Bruins
Boston is no longer known as the big bad Bruins, but they still have a few chippy players left on the roster, such as Brad Marchand and Zac Rinaldo. The difference between the two of them is the fact that Marchand is also a darn good hockey player. On the other hand, Rinaldo has a reputation of being on the dirty side and couldn’t put the puck in the ocean. The 25-year-old forward has a grand total of one goal and two assists after 52 games this season. He also has 83 minutes in penalties to his name. The former Philadelphia Flyer is a -35 for his career with 655 minutes in penalties after 275 games and has chipped in with 27 points over that stretch. His career-high for points in a season is six, which he pulled off last year. Only nine players have a worse Corsi rating than Ronaldo’s 38.8 this season.
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