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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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