Not unlike the other professional sports leagues in North America, the NHL through its owners and down to its fans, puts an emphasis on hockey’s stars. As players emerge as the “best” at what they do, fans, media, front office suits and even players forge opinions on who the top players in the game are. Some players don’t get enough love, while others get too much, whether it’s because of what they’ve accomplished in the past, their popularity or regular season numbers. The bottom line, some players are just plain overrated. We’ll start with numbers 10 through six in this two-part series.
10. Jeff Carter – Los Angeles Kings
I understand that it’s tough to call a guy who just helped his team win a Stanley Cup overrated, but this is based on the bigger picture over the last few seasons. He exploded onto the scene after an electrifying 2008-09 season in which he potted 46 goals for the Philadelphia Flyers, but after that the goal totals slightly went down and the point totals were much lower. Last summer, Carter was shipped off to the Columbus Blue Jackets where he was expected to ignite their offense by sharing the load with Rick Nash. However, that experiment failed, as Carter had an unproductive year along with injury problems. His play improved after being traded to the Kings, but that was in a relatively small sample size. He’ll need to prove himself in a full season with the defending champs that his Finals heroics weren’t a fluke.
9. Ilya Bryzgalov – Philadelphia Flyers
Ilya Bryzgalov was fortunate enough to be pursued by Paul Holmgren in the summer of 2011, landing himself an insane $51 million. Bryz was ready to leave the quiet shadows of the desert and Dave Tippett’s stingy system and step into the madness on Broad Street. It didn’t work out all that well as the Russian netminder was constantly a subject of controversy and posted mediocre numbers in his first year in Philly. He was lucky that Marc-Andre Fleury committed acts in the playoffs that would make Vesa Toskala or Cristobal Huet blush; otherwise the Philly faithful would have his head.
8. Dion Phaneuf – Toronto Maple Leafs
Phaneuf’s career got off to a pretty nice start with the Calgary Flames before his play began to drop off in 2010. Before that, he was hyped as the NHL’s next Chris Pronger. To say the least, he didn’t live up to expectations and was shipped off to the Leafs where they would eventually name him captain and he would continue to struggle. He had a bounce back year last season but it was still not as impressive his best seasons in Calgary.
7. Niklas Kronwall – Detroit Red Wings
Niklas Kronwall has become famous for laying big hits and leaving opponents “Kronwall’d,” but he has a propensity to pull himself out of position when he’s searching for hits. For a defenseman as lauded as Kronwall, he’s never posted a great +/- rating outside of 2008. That’s even more curious when you look at the numbers he’s capable up putting up offensively. It will be interesting to see how Kronwall handles the spotlight with the departure of Niklas Lidstrom and Kronwall’s steady partner Brad Stuart. He’s been able to thrive as a second pairing guy, but he will struggle as Detroit’s go-to guy.
6. Shane Doan – Phoenix Coyotes (free agent)
Captain Coyote has always been appreciated for his character and leadership on a team that has never really had too much star power. While he’s put up nice career numbers, Doan’s never been a point-per-game player and has reached the 30-goal mark only twice in 16 seasons. He’s the top scorer on a team that doesn’t score much and hasn’t won much of anything in its existence. Some team is going to give Shane Doan a lot of money that he clearly isn’t worth.
I’ll have the top five most overrated players in the NHL for you on Monday. Until then, you can follow me on twitter @c_dubiel44 for more.