The term “overrated” is tossed around a lot in sports. The definition is simple, but what exactly makes someone overrated? There is no concrete answer to this ambiguous question, but there are common elements among overrated players. One of the biggest commonalities is that they’re not worth what they’re being paid based on their overall production. But this begs the question, why bother paying them that much to begin with? General Managers tend to panic in the off season when free agent frenzy begins on July 1st. It has become way more entertaining than NHL trade deadline because of the jaw dropping contracts that are dealt. A GM’s job is to dissect his team, and figure out areas where his squad needs help. For example, if 5 gm’s realize that they need help on defence, but there are only 2 defensemen on the market that can help them, it ultimately becomes a bidding war and the player usually ends up getting compensated more than he’s worth. Ah, how fun it is to throw GM’s under the bus! There are also cases where a player is an absolute stud and sets the league on fire in his rookie and sophomore seasons. Obviously the GM wants to lock him up long term, but sometimes for whatever reason, their play tapers off and people are left scratching their heads while the player is left with a sweet deal. The league is full of overrated players. Let’s have a look at the top 20!
20 Alexander Edler (Vancouver Canucks)
Alex Edler is billed a as an offensive defenseman, which is why the Canucks tolerate frequent lapses in his own end. He certainly was an offensive threat in the 2010-2011 season when the Canucks won the Presidents trophy and came within a game of winning the Cup. He also had a productive 2011-2012 season, notching 49 points in 82 games. But as the old saying goes: “what have you done for me lately?” Not only have Edler’s offensive numbers consistently dipped, but he was a disastrous -39 last season. His play is declining but he still has 5 years left on his contract, averaging out to $5 million per year.
19 Christian Ehrhoff (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Once upon a time, Christian Ehrhoff was one of the most sought after free agents in the league. The Sabres reached out and signed him to a 10 year deal that averaged out to $4 million per year over that span. It was a signing that many experts felt would turn Buffalo into a contender when all it did was turn them into a seller dweller. To Ehrhoff’s defence, the Sabres demise doesn’t rest solely on his shoulders as there were many other players that didn’t hold up their end of the bargain on that team (notably Ville Leino). Nevertheless, his play was bad enough to get himself bought out. Remarkably, the Penguins gave him a 1 year deal worth $4 million for this season. Ehrhoff will still be collecting money from the Sabres, while the Penguins pay him $4 million. Yes, apparently it pays off to be below average in the NHL.
18 Martin Havlat (New Jersey Devils)
Martin Havlat is also known as “the fantasy hockey league killer.” Fine, I made that awful nickname up. But year after year, fans maintain that if he can remain healthy, he has the potential to put up nearly a point a game. The issue is he will never remain healthy. Havlat is one of the most injury prone players in the game, though fans and GMs can’t seem to grasp this. The Sharks ultimately opted to buy out Havlat, as even when he was healthy, he wasn’t the player that he used to be. The Devils are taking a chance on him this year, but at $1.5 million, it’s a much easier pill to swallow if it doesn’t work out.
17 Ville Leino (Tryout with the Bruins)
As mentioned above, Leino was Ehrhoff’s partner in crime in Buffalo. But Leino’s case was actually far worse. While Ehrhoff showed the odd sign of life, Leino was an absolute no show. The numbers do not lie, as in his final year before being bought out by the Sabres, Leino scored a grand total of 0 goals in 58 games. One doesn’t need to be a math wiz to figure this one out, as he banked $4 million that season for (literally) no offensive output. It could be worse Ville, you could always be Scott Gomez.
16 Ryan Kesler (Anaheim Ducks)
Kesler had a huge 2010-2011 season notching 41 goals and 32 assists. He was also arguably Vancouver’s best forward in their playoff run where they came so close to winning Lord Stanley. Unfortunately for Kesler, that playoff run left him physically and emotionally battered and he has been a shell of himself since then. He needed major hip surgery in the 2012 offseason and only appeared in 17 games the following year. Kesler also carried himself with a lot of swagger. In an interview between the 2nd and 3rd period of the 2010 Olympics, as Team USA was trailing Canada 2-1, he boldly proclaimed: “we’re going to keep coming and we’re going to tie this thing up.” Lately we’ve seen a more sombre version of Kesler to go along with his lack of production.
15 Mike Green (Washington Capitals)
It wasn’t too long ago when Washington was a power house in the Eastern Conference, finishing first year after year with relative ease. Mike Green was instrumental to the Capitals success as he logged heavy duty minutes and would quarter back the power play from the point. Despite the regular season success, these were the same teams that would collapse in the playoffs. Their key players would just disappear come playoff time, and Mike Green was one of those culprits as he was simply a no show on most nights. For whatever reason, he could never carry over his strong regular season play into the post season. Last year, even his regular season was nothing to write home about as he ended with an unimpressive -16.
14 Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh Penguins)
One of the most useful traits a goalie can have is the ability to make a clutch save when their team needs it most. It can be a 4-4 game and they've been far from perfect, but when it’s time to shut it down, a great goalie will find a way more often than not. Over the past few seasons, Fleury has been just the opposite. While his regular season numbers are not bad, he has a tendency to let in a soft goal at the worst possible time and sap momentum from his team.
“Oh, but he has a Cup.” That argument is used a lot, but it is certainly flawed because his playoff numbers have been horrendous ever since that cup win. In the years that followed his save percentages were .891, .899, .834, .883 and finally a respectable .915 in last season’s playoffs. Perhaps he’s ready to turn the corner.
13 Erik Johnson (Colorado Avalanche)
It wouldn’t be fair to call Erik Johnson a poor NHL defenseman, but when you consider that he was drafted first overall in the 2006 draft, it is fair to say that he has underachieved. He hasn’t nearly achieved as much as some of the players that were drafted behind him. Some names that come to mind are Jonathan Toews and Phil Kessel. There are also aspects to his game that are very frustrating. He is naturally blessed with a 6’4, 235 pound frame and simply doesn’t use it to its potential.
12 Ryane Clowe (New Jersey Devils)
For some reason Ryan Clowe is a highly regarded forward in the league. Two years ago, when the Rangers acquired him at the trade deadline, hockey observers billed it as a huge acquisition for a playoff run. Granted, Clowe got hurt and wasn’t able to contribute, but let’s take a look at some of his work. Not once has he scored over 25 goals in the league. Actually, in his 10 year career he’s only broken the 20 goal plateau twice. Last season he only had 26 points in 43 games for the Devils. These can’t be normal numbers for someone who has a 5 year contract worth $24.25 million. Am I being punked here?!
11 Henrik and Daniel Sedin (Vancouver Canucks)
Yes, both Sedin’s will be included in this entry. They’re obviously two different players... though it's hard to tell him apart off the ice. They played their whole lives together, got drafted together and they even picked the same season to play poorly together. Both their productions dropped significantly last season along with the rest of the Canucks. The brothers are still dependable to play on the top line but they are aging and can’t be expected to put up the numbers they used to. Unfortunately for them, the Canucks have only gotten weaker and if anything they will be relied on to do even more, which simply will not happen.
10 Dustin Penner (UFA)
The Edmonton Oilers turned the world upside down to land Dustin Penner in 2007. Kevin Lowe also turned the league against them by utilizing the offer sheet tactic (Brian Burke is still fuming). One could understand why Lowe wanted Penner on the team so badly, as Penner was a hulking power forward that looked good for 30 goals a year. People still have a vision of Dustin Penner that was just described. In reality, Penner has been absolutely dreadful since 2010. He’s been hampered by injuries and is a shell of his former self. Last season, the Capitals took a chance on the declining Penner and he only put up 3 points in 18 games. He’s currently a UFA and it may be the end of the line.
9 Vincent Lecavalier (Philadelphia Flyers)
No question, Vincent Lecavalier was at one time the most complete player in the game. He’d put up great numbers while also taking care of his own end of the ice. He was also big and strong and near impossible to take off the puck. No one could say he was a softy either as Vinny had a bit of a mean streak. Injuries have taken their toll on him and he’s now a pretty irrelevant player in the league. One of his biggest weapons was his quick release as he’d let a snap shot fly. He can’t get nearly enough velocity on his shots now and goaltenders are making it look easy. Tampa Bay bought out his outrageous contract, and somehow Philly opted to take a chance on him and give him big money. Another case of a player being overpaid by 2 teams.
8 Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals)
Remember the old “Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby” debate? Those were good times…but they have come and gone, as it’s not even close anymore. Ovechkin still puts up a lot of goals but his play in his own end is horrendous. He finished last season with an absurd -35. Most goal scorers who are poor in their own end still have a decent plus minus ratio because their amount of goals compensate for their defensive blunders. Ovechkin scored 51 goals last year and still managed to be -35. Ovy is certainly a player that marches to the beat of his own drum.
7 Cam Ward (Carolina Hurricanes)
This is the 2nd portion of the “but he has a cup” argument. Ward won the Stanley Cup eight years ago. Granted, he delivered some solid goaltending in the seasons that followed and was often considered to represent Canada at the World Championships or Olympic Games. However his numbers steadily dipped, to the point where they just aren’t good enough to even be considered a starting goalie right now as Anton Kudobin is waiting in the wings. Ward had an injury plagued 2013-2014 season, but in 30 games played, he finished with a .898 save percentage which ranked him 47th out of 51 goaltenders.
6 Jordan Staal (Carolina Hurricanes)
Staal is without a doubt a better hockey player than most of the people on this list, but certain experts are just fixated on him and blow his talent level out of proportion. He’s a good, dependable centre man but some even had him penciled in to make Team Canada’s Olympic team.
There was a lot of smoke around Jordan Staal because he was playing 3rd line minutes in Pittsburgh and was still racking up a lot of points, while also maintaining solid play in his own end. People always wondered how well would he do if he were on a first or second line and got power play minutes? We’ve got our answer and he’s actually done worse. In his first season with the Canes, he notched 31 points in 48 games with a brutal -18 rating. Last season, he finished with 40 points in 82 games.
5 Brooks Orpik (Washington Capitals)
If we’re talking about bad contracts, this one is close to the worst. During the offseason, Orpik signed a 5 year deal, averaging out to $5.5 million per year. There are a lot of reasons to be critical of this deal. For one, Orpik doesn’t bring any dynamic elements to the table as he is simply a stay at home defenseman. He’s always been a number 3 or 4 defenseman for a bad Penguins defense. Another element that’s crucial to consider is the fact that he’s 34 years old! He’s only going to decline from here and will be 39 in the final year of his contract.
4 Ryan Callahan (Tampa Bay Lightning)
The amount of money and term Ryan Callahan was asking from the Rangers was absurd. You can’t blame the guy for trying, as the Rangers are infamous for overpaying people. Callahan was a shoe in to make the American Olympic squad while Bobby Ryan and Kyle Okposo were omitted.
People love to criticize Glen Sather (and rightfully so sometimes) but you have to give credit when it’s due, as he’s had some steals. One example is when he fleeced Bob Gainey into taking Scott Gomez off his hands for *cringes* Ryan Mcdonagh. A more recent example involves Callahan. Sather knew he wasn’t going to resign him for such an astronomical amount, and managed to strike when Martin St. Louis was on the trading block. Not only did he ditch an overrated player, he brought in a premiere forward that wanted to stay in New York.
The irony here is that Tampa actually gave Callahan was he was asking for, as he’s locked in for 6 seasons at $5.8 million per season. That’s a lot of dough for someone who only got 36 points last season.
3 David Clarkson (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Speaking of bad contracts, this one may take the cake (Kessel will probably eat it too). During the 2013 off season, Clarkson was considered the most coveted free agent. Some were even billing it “the Clarkson sweepstakes,” but why?!
He’s a gritty forward and is definitely a “team guy,” which was apparent when he jumped the boards to take on John Scott, earning himself a 10 game suspension for his troubles. But that’s just it, he’s a gritty forward and should be compensated as one. Instead he’s on year 2 of a 7 year deal that balances out to $5.25 million a year. Some will counter and maintain that he had 30 goals in 2011-2012. That’s true, but he was nowhere close to that mark in his 6 other seasons in the league and he he contributed 16 assists that season.
2 Dion Phaneuf (Toronto Maple Leafs)
In a player’s poll in 2012, Phaneuf was rated as the league’s most overrated player. Brian Burke angrily defended his captain, but deep down he had to know that there was more than some validity to the poll.
He’s slow out there and gets turned inside out multiple times a game, doesn’t make a good first pass and most of all,he’s constantly turning the puck over. But at least he has charisma and some leadership qualities right? Sadly, no he does not. When he’s being interviewed, it sounds like he’s reading his answers off one of Obama’s defective prompters. Phaneuf will be paid an average of $7 million per season until 2021.
1 Rick Nash (New York Rangers)
Nash has always been placed in the elite category among forwards. Partly because he spent the majority of his career on a brutal team and still managed to put the puck in the net on a consistent basis. But how can he be considered elite when he’s only eclipsed the 70 point mark once in his career and isn’t even close to a point per game player?
Part of being considered elite is being able to deliver when it matters most and Nash can’t use the Columbus crutch anymore. Last season during the Rangers deep playoff run, he only found the back of the net 3 times in 25 games. The season before, he only scored once in 12 playoff games. His disappearing act doesn’t only apply to the NHL, as he was somehow added to the Olympic squad in Sochi and contributed next to nothing.
This isn’t to say that 29 other teams wouldn’t want him but he really isn’t the juggernaut that he’s been billed.