Since the 2004-05 NHL lockout, hockey fans across North America have witnessed how the NHL's talent level has not only transformed, but upgraded as well. Offensive minded players have dominated the lay of the land since that time, and some ex-all-star caliber players (prior to the lockout) quickly downgraded to the bottom of the NHL's totem pole once hockey returned back in 2005-06.
Over the past decade some of hockey's most notable names, at one point in time, panned out to be busts or were simply one-hit-wonders for a respected club, and later failed to replicate career-high-seasons with different franchises. Those former big-named players have led The Sportster to create a list of skaters that fans will be able to recall and potentially agree on, that these NHL players swiftly became unappreciated by the hockey world after the 2004-05 lockout.
Some of these professional athletes had a string of successful seasons prior to the lockout, while others were high draft picks and failed to get their respective organizations back over the hump and competing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for Lord Stanley's Cup.
Here are the Top 20 Worst NHL Players Since The 2004-05 Lockout...
20 Owen Nolan
Yes, believe it or not, but forward Owen Nolan played past the 2004-05 NHL lockout. Nolan, most known for being an offensive player with the San Jose Sharks from 1997-2003, ended up playing for the (then) Phoenix Coyotes, Calgary Flames and Minnesota Wild after the lockout.
The former Quebec Nordiques skater spent parts of his final four NHL seasons between the three clubs named above, and never recorded more than 45 points in a season. It was probably a surprise to most that Nolan would even try playing again after the lockout, especially since his NHL playing career began back in 1991. The former first-overall draft-pick (1990) had his best season with San Jose during the 1999-00 regular season, when the forward posted an 84-point season.
19 Sean Avery
Following the 2004-05 NHL lockout, forward Sean Avery stormed onto the scene after the former undrafted skater was traded from the Los Angeles Kings to the New York Rangers during the 2006-07 regular season. Avery had struggled to find a home with both of his former clubs in the Kings and Detroit Red Wings, but out of the blue he proved to find himself a place to stay on Broadway - and at Madison Square Garden…for a brief time at least.
The 5-foot-10 “agitator” appeared to be the missing piece for the Broadway Blueshirts' puzzle during the team’s 2007-08 season and Stanley Cup Playoff run. Avery posted 33 points in 57 games played during the regular season, and was an x-factor during the playoffs while recording seven points in eight games. Avery was a celebrity in the Big Apple and ended up earning himself a four-year contract worth $15.5-million in the 2008 offseason with the Dallas Stars; only to later get traded back to New York early on that same year. It was then that Avery’s NHL career spiraled downed, and he later retired after the 2011-12 season.
18 Jared Boll
Former Columbus Blue Jackets forward Jared Boll made a name for himself in the NHL for racking up penalty-minutes year-after-year since the 2007-08 regular season. The former fourth-round draft-pick (Columbus) was paid a friendly, and controversial, three-year contract extension during the 2013 offseason with the Jackets, which was worth over $5 million.
Boll, was bought out before the contract would expire, and signed with the Anaheim Ducks for the 2016-17 campaign. Let's just say the long-time Blue Jackets' tough guy took a decent pay cut and still finds himself on the wrong side of the plus/minus category. Boll was glorified in Columbus, or over-glorified, and the club seems to be better off without the North Carolina native. It will be interesting to see if Boll will retire after the season's end.
17 Jose Theodore
Netminder JoseTheodore made his first NHL appearance during the 1995-96 regular-season with the Montreal Canadiens at the age of 19. There appeared to be a bright future for the former second-round draft-pick (1994), but Theodore proved to be nothing more than a stable temporary goalie as his NHL career continued.
The Laval, Quebec native had an impressive campaign in 2001-02, when he won the Vezina Trophy and the Hart Trophy, but following the lockout, his save-percentages dipped below the .900 bench mark from 2005-06 until the 2007-08 regular season. Theodore’s stats may have improved, on paper, following that string of bad seasons, but that was in large part to a power-house Washington Capitals club. “Teddy” dressed for the Caps from 2008 until 2010. He managed to play 15 seasons in the NHL, and retired after the 2013 season.
16 Martin Lapointe
Martin Lapointe made a name for himself in the NHL and with the Detroit Red Wings during the 1990s, but the former first-round draft pick (1991) struggled to perform on the ice after the 2004-05 NHL lockout. In 2005-06, Lapointe finished the season with a plus/minus rating of minus-30 as a member of the up-and-coming Chicago Blackhawks.
One season later, the Quebec-native finished the season as a minus-14, while only recording 13 goals and 11 assists for 24 points in 82 games played. Lapointe was later acquired by the Ottawa Senators in 2008 to add depth to the Sens’ lineup for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The move proved to be useless, and the Senators were swept from the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first-round.
15 Mattias Tedenby
At five-foot-nine, the New Jersey Devils were hoping that their 2008 first-round draft pick, Mattias Tedenby would pan out to be at least half as good as former NHL all-star and small forward, Martin St. Louis. A team and fan-base can dream though, right?
The Swedish native played parts of four seasons with Jersey’s Team, and was typically a healthy scratch on most nights for goaltender Martin Brodeur and company. Tedenby’s best season came during his rookie campaign when the forward posted 22 points in 58 games played (2010-2011). The former 24th-overall-pick currently plays in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) for HV71, and is still struggling to find offensive production. Tedenby’s final NHL season was in 2013-14, and the Swede only dressed in 15 games for “the big club” while posting one point.
14 Jeff Friesen
Remember this guy? Jeff Friesen was once one of the NHL’s top forwards and best San Jose Sharks’ players of all time. Friesen appeared to be in his prime during 2003, when he helped the New Jersey Devils win their third Stanley Cup in less than 10 years.
However, just two years later, Friesen was traded from New Jersey to the Washington Capitals and one of the game’s brightest stars’ careers went downhill after the 2004-05 NHL lockout. Post-lockout, the former first-round draft-pick (1994) played parts of three seasons between the Capitals, (then) Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Calgary Flames; where he never recorded more than 12 points in a season. Friesen was invited to the Sharks’ training camp during the 2008 offseason, but was cut by the team that originally drafted him.
13 Mike Commodore
It’s no secret that an NHL defenseman can take up to five years to truly develop into the type of career player that one will pan out to be, after they begin their playing career. That appeared to be the case for defenseman Mike Commodore once “Big Red” rushed onto the scene during the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Western Conference Champion, Calgary Flames.
Commodore followed up his physical and solid defensive play that spring with another Stanley Cup Finals run with the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2005-06 season. Still, Commodore quickly lost his step following those two memorable seasons. While his name and identity were still popular among NHL fans, the former second-round draft-pick (1999) went onto play for four more NHL clubs in just the span of eight seasons, retiring after the 2012 season.
12 Bobby Holik
Opponents and their fan-bases couldn’t stand him, but if he was on your team, specifically the New Jersey Devils, than you strongly appreciated forward Bobby Holik as an NHL player. The Czech Republic native became one of the best two ways hockey players for his era during the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2000s, but Holik’s career took a turn for the worse after the 2004-05 NHL lockout.
After signing a large and lucrative deal with the New York Rangers during the 2001 offseason, the Rangers bought Holik’s contract out during the 2004-05 NHL lockout and the Czech native later signed with the Atlanta Thrashers. He went on to play three seasons in Atlanta and retired as a New Jersey Devil after the 2008-09 season. Holik never recorded more than 34 points during the final four years of his career.
11 Tomas Kaberle
Czech Republic native Tomas Kaberle began his NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs on the right foot. While the defenseman was in his early 20s at the time, Kaberle proved to be one of the Leafs’ best defenseman and a skater who had one of the more promising futures.
Yet, the 2004-05 NHL lockout may have hurt the 6-foot-1 Czech Olympian's playing stock, as his career began to steadily decline post-lockout. Not only did Kaberle’s point production drop, but his defensive play started to lag, too. Kaberle was later traded to the Boston Bruins at the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline, and then finished his final three NHL seasons trying to crack both of the Carolina Hurricanes' and Montreal Canadiens' everyday lineups. Kaberle only dressed in 10 games during 2013 for the Habs, as his NHL career came to an abrupt end.
10 Maxim Afinogenov
One of hockey’s most electric players for a decade skated for the Buffalo Sabres for nine seasons, but never quite lived up to the expectations that the Sabres and their fans anticipated for forward Maxim Afinogenov.
On occasion, the Russian native would portray the skills of an NHL all-star, while more often than not, Afinogenov’s playing style would hurt his team’s chances of leaving a game victorious. Yes, the former third-round draft pick had a career season following the 2004-05 NHL lockout (73 points), but his play drastically declined after 2006. After posting 61 points in 2006-07, the Russian forward would record back-to-back seasons without reaching the 30-point mark. There was hope that perhaps Afinogenov could have panned out to be a superstar such as former Sabre Alexander Mogilny, which is why he makes this list for the worst NHL players since the 2004-05 lockout.
9 Andrei Kostitsyn
With the 10th overall pick at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, the Montreal Canadiens selected forward Andrei Kostitsyn. The Belarus-native was far from a first-round caliber type of player, though. Kostitsyn’s NHL career began after the 2004-05 NHL lockout, and the forward's career high season was 53 points, while playing on a line with Alex Kovalev.
If you can’t recall, Andrei, and his brother Sergei, were linked to drug traffic crimes back in 2009. He was later traded to the Nashville Predators during the 2011-12 regular season, and made headlines for the wrong reasons again – after he was spotted leaving a bar around 5:00 AM while the Predators had a playoff game later that night. Like most NHL draft busts, Kostitsyn still plays professional hockey but in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in Russia.
8 Kyle Turris
If a player is drafted with one of the top three selections at an NHL Entry Draft, then the chances are that all three of those players should have a good chance at turning a franchise around all of the right reasons. For the (then) Phoenix Coyotes, that ended up not being the case after they used their third-overall draft pick on forward Kyle Turris in 2007.
Turris’ offensive production can be labeled as average at best, as he’s usually good for 30 points a season. And, the former first-round draft pick is more than worthy to be on the list for the worst NHL players since the 2004-05 lockout. Turris was later acquired by the Ottawa Senators in 2011-12 in hopes that a change of scenery would benefit his overall performance on the ice. He's found a good role in Ottawa, but his disappointments prior to that can't be forgotten.
7 Rick DiPietro
After the 2006 regular season, the New York Islanders signed goaltender Rick DiPietro to a record-setting (at the time) mega-contract for 15-years, which was worth $67-million. Then, DiPietro was coming off of his first good season with the Isles, but the former first-overall draft pick (2000) never lived up to expectations following the 2004-05 NHL lockout.
Once the 2006-07 NHL campaign came to a close, DiPietro had only started in a total of 108 contests for the Islanders and the American-born goalie was later bought out in 2013. DiPietro played in 318 career NHL games, and retired with a below average save-percentage of .902. To date, the Islanders have to pay DiPietro $1.5 million annually until the end of the 2028-29 season. In the final three games of his career, DiPietro allowed 12 goals.
6 Wade Redden
Defenseman Wade Redden was once a coach’s dream of a player, and while skating for the Ottawa Senators from 1997 until the end of the 2008 season. Redden earned himself a contract in the Big Apple with the New York Rangers during the 2008 offseason, but the former New York Islanders’ first round draft pick (1995) quickly became one of the worst players post lockout.
The Garden faithful and New York media ran Redden out of the city, and Rangers fans still get heated when they hear the defenseman’s name. He spent several years buried in the minors, as the Rangers tried to preserve some salary cap space.
The former All-Star tried to revive his career with the St. Louis Blues in 2012-13 but that was short-lived and so was his time with the Boston Bruins during that same season.
5 Ilya Bryzgalov
Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov proved that he had what it took to be an everyday starter in the NHL while dressing for the (then) Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the (then) Phoenix Coyotes from 2006-2011. In fact, the Philadelphia Flyers thoroughly believed he alone could fix the club’s ongoing goaltending problems, after the Broad Street Bullies inked the Russian native to a nine-year contract worth $51 million.
“Bryz” spent parts of two seasons in the City of Brotherly Love, and while his stats weren’t terrible, it was safe to say he wasn’t clutch between the pipes for the Flyers. He especially struggled in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and was notorious for letting in either soft or just odd goals to his opponents. Bryzgalov no longer plays in the NHL.
4 Erik Johnson
At the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, the St. Louis Blues selected defenseman Erik Johnson with the first overall pick. The hope was that St. Louis could use Johnson as a cornerstone franchise player and one to build around to eventually compete for a Stanley Cup. However, while Johnson would portray spurts of impressive offensive talent - his NHL career has been inconsistent to say at the least.
The Blues traded Johnson away during the 2010-11 regular season to their Western Conference rivals, the Colorado Avalanche. Since that time, Johnson has posted a couple of notable offensive seasons, but his defensive play continues to struggle to date. At the time of writing, Johnson has a career minus-45 rating. Not exactly what you would expect from a d-man who was selected at number one overall during the post-lockout era.
3 David Clarkson
Life was good in New Jersey for forward David Clarkson, especially after the grinder recorded a career year in 2012 while posting a 30 goal season. “Clarky” proved to be an invaluable depth and productive forward for Jersey’s Team, and he was presented his pay day after the Toronto Maple Leafs signed him to a seven-year-contract worth $36.75 million in 2013-14.
The undrafted forward played two seasons for his hometown team in the Leafs, and produced a grand total of 26 points in 118 games played with the Original Six franchise. Clarkson was eventually traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets prior to the 2014-15 regular season, and is now struggling to crack the 10 point mark in one year. It appeared he sold his hockey soul to the Devil…
2 Nail Yakupov
Four years and counting into forward Nail Yakupov’s NHL career and the Russian native is not only flirting with the term bust, but he may potentially become the biggest bust in recent memory. At the time of writing, Yakupov owns a career plus/minus rating of minus-90, and the former first overall draft pick (2012) of the Edmonton Oilers has yet to record more than 20 goals in an NHL season.
Yakupov’s time with the Oilers was short-lived, and Edmonton split ways with its waste of a draft pick this past offseason, after he was traded to the St. Louis Blues. Now, Yakupov has only recorded five points in 18 games played. And, of course, he’s a minus-two. It would be hard to imagine that Yakupov will last in St. Louis, especially with a hard-nosed coach like Ken Hitchcock behind the Blues' bench.
1 Alexander Semin
The Washington Capitals appeared to have their foundation set when the Caps’ roster entailed forwards such as Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backtrom and Alexander Semin. And, Semin was once categorized as the clear and cut “X-factor” for Washington and its goal to hoist Lord Stanley for the first time in the franchise’s history.
While the Russian native proved to be one of the most offensively-talented wingers in the NHL from 2007 until 2010, Semin’s production and overall play dropped significantly; which places Semin as number one for the NHL’s top worst players since the 2004-05 lockout. The former sniper was eventually picked up by a struggling Carolina Hurricanes team in 2012, where he played for three seasons before playing in just 15 games for the Montreal Canadiens last season.