30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL
Talent is one of the most defining attributes for any professional sports player. In the National Hockey League, talent is the main reason as to why you get a chance to play in this league. Players that do not have talent usually find themselves as fourth liners or even minor leaguers for the bulk of their careers. Other players have a whole lot of talent. These players are the NHL's Sidney Crosby's, Evgeni Malkin's, Pavel Datsyuk's, and Claude Giroux's.
I have pieced together a list of thirty players who could have a lot of success with their roles in the NHL because of they talent. Each team had one player who was defined as their most wasted talent. Wasted talent can be defined in a couple of way.
First, they could not perform to the level that their franchise thinks they can perform at. For example, a player who is a high draft pick that hasn't panned out immediately. They could also be misused on their respective rosters. Other wastes of talent include players who have had a lot of regular season success but have not performed to the level that they have shown in the regular season.
Also, players that have had one big breakout year and other terrible years have been included onto this list. Finally, any player who has been given a bad contract and has not performed up to their potential under that contract have been added. Spoiler alert for fans in Philadelphia: Ilya Bryzgalov is not on this list because he was in a transition period from a low market NHL team to a big hockey market. Though he would be included as a player for honorable mention.
So let's start with the list. Enjoy!
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Anaheim Ducks - Jonas Hiller
Last season was one of the worst seasons for the Anaheim Ducks since they won the Stanley Cup in 2006-2007. Jonas Hiller was one of the main reasons for the 2011-2012 struggle. Hiller played in 73 games but had a GAA of 2.57 and a save percentage of .910, which was the worst of his career. In the NHL, you are only as good as your goalie makes you. The Ducks experienced that statement first hand in 2011-2012. Hiller needs a lot of work in order to get back to the level that he once was at.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Boston Bruins - Tim Thomas
The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2010-2011. Tim Thomas was a key component to their playoff run. Thomas basically has lost his job to Tuukka Rask because of his very poor play. Thomas' career has been strange. One year he is great, the next he gives up 20 more goals in the same amount of games played. Thomas' unique style of goaltending is what kills his talent. Though it has worked in the past, he needs to work on making better decisions when playing the puck.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Buffalo Sabres - Ville Leino
Players that standout in the playoffs usually continue to develop into better players. The Buffalo Sabres thought that they struck gold when they signed Ville Leino last summer. Leino was coming off a very productive 2009-2010 playoffs, where his team went to the Stanley Cup, and a very productive 2010-2011 where he recorded 53 points and played in 81 games. Leino struggled mightily in 2011-2012. He played in 71 games and recorded 25 points. Leino signed a 6-year $27 million contract last year with Buffalo.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Calgary Flames - Jay Bouwmeester
Speaking of overpaid players, Jay Bouwmeester was thought to be one of the leagues most consistent defensemen from 2006-2009. In that time span, Bouwmeester recorded 167 points. The Calgary Flames traded for the rights to Bouwmeester in 2009 for a draft pick. Right before his contract expired, the Flames signed him to a 5-year $33 million contract. Bouwmeester has not broken 30 points even once for the Flames yet. In his career, Bouwmeester has a plus/minus of -54 in 717 games, including -27 since being acquired by the Flames.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Carolina Hurricanes - Alexander Semin
Once in a while some players disappear, statistically, for a season but eventually make adjustments to become a better player. For Alexander Semin, this statement needs to be true or his career could soon be going down hill. Semin was a star for the Washington Capitals from 2003-2012. In 469 games, he recorded 408 points. From 2006-2010, Semin's point production was consistent with some of the top players in the NHL. The past two seasons, Semin has disappeared. His defensive play has been non-existent and so has the level of his point production. Semin signed with the Carolina Hurricanes for one year this offseason. The deal was worth $7 million. The Hurricanes are hoping that these past two years have been a fluke for Semin, not a trend.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Chicago Blackhawks - Corey Crawford
Usually teams in the upper echelon of their conference have goalies that are very productive. The Chicago Blackhawks have a goalie that has been very productive in giving up goals while still having a very good record. Corey Crawford has played 2 full seasons in Chicago. In the past two years, respectively, Crawford has recorded a GAA of 2.30 and 2.72 but he has recorded 63 wins in the process. If the Blackhawks are looking to add another Stanley Cup victory to their resume, they will without a doubt need Crawford to figure it out and step up his game.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Colorado Avalanche - Matt Duchene
Young players are supposed to struggle in the NHL right? Well for Matt Duchene, the word struggle is not in his vocabulary. In his first two seasons with the Colorado Avalanche, he had recorded 122 points and lead the Avalanche back to the playoffs in 2009-2010. Last season was a bit different. Duchene struggled because of injury and never could really get the momentum going. In 58 games, Duchene recorded 28 points and had a plus/minus of -11. If Duchene does not make adjustments, his career could suffer mightily. The reason Duchene is on this list is because of the disappointment from his injury.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets - R.J. Umberger
Some would say that R.J. Umberger has been one of the biggest bright spots for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Some could have even put the entire Blue Jackets team on this list. But Umberger is the player chosen for Columbus because, after having three straight consistent years for the Blue Jackets, he had the worst point production since his rookie year in Philadelphia. Umberger was named an assistant captain for the Blue Jackets for last season. Though he was on a bad team, Umberger still needs to find a way to produce like a first round pick is projected to do.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Dallas Stars - Alex Goligoski
Boy did the Dallas Stars lose out on their trade that enabled them to acquire Alex Goligoski from the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2010-2011. Though Goligoski's play has been consistent for a defenseman, his production is being compared to that of James Neal and Matt Niskanen. Both players that left the Stars in 2011 have combined for 108 points since that trade was made. While Niskanen and Neal have played in the playoff with Pitssburgh, Goligoski has yet to make a playoff appearance in Dallas.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Detroit Red Wings - Niklas Kronwall
It seems that every year, season after season, that the Detroit Red Wings make it to the playoffs. Well, for the most part, it is true because the Red Wings have not missed the playoffs since the 1989-1990 season while winning four Stanley Cups along the way. Niklas Kronwall has been a mainstay for the Red Wings since 2005-2006. He was the 29th overall draft pick in the 2000 NHL Draft. Kronwall has not disappointed Red Wings fans, but his one big offensive year in 2008-2009 is the reason that he is on this list. In 2008-2009, Kronwall recorded 51 points. But every other year in his career has seen his point total barely reach 40 points. In fact 2008-2009 was the only season where Kronwall has recorded more than 37 points. Injuries have plagued his career a bit. But if Kronwall wants to return to the playoffs with Detroit, then he needs to stay healthy and be consistent.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Edmonton Oilers - Ben Eager
Ben Eager was a player who the Philadelphia Flyers thought could help bring back the Broad Street Bullies' mentality to their franchise. Well, the Eager experiment didn't really work out in Philly. Eager then saw himself with the Chicago Blackhawks for three seasons and won a Stanley Cup against his former team. But for the past three seasons, Eager has bounced around with the Atlanta Thrashers and San Jose Sharks until he signed a three-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers. Though Eager is not an offensive talent, his ability to fight has dipped dramatically since he recorded 233 penalty minutes with Philadelphia in 2006-2007.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Florida Panthers - Scottie Upshall
Scottie Upshall has surely struggled to stay healthy in his NHL career. This is why he is on this list. In nine seasons, where he has played more than 10 games, Upshall has played 372 games and has recorded 175 points. Upshall was a very productive player for the Philadelphia Flyers and the Phoenix Coyotes from 2007-2011. His 2011-2012 season had been cut short in his first year with the Florida Panthers. Upshall's career has been a struggle to stay healthy. If he wants to get his name off of this list, he will need to at least play one full season in the NHL, which he has never done before.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Los Angeles Kings - Jeff Carter
Jeff Carter had performed very consistently for the Philadelphia Flyers since being drafted in 2003. After the 2010-2011 season, Carter was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He struggled mightily and fans became fed up with him, especially since he signed an 11-year $58 million contract that started in 2010-2011. Carter was eventually traded to the Los Angeles Kings and was reunited with his long-time line mate in Philadelphia, Mike Richards. If Carter wants to get off this list, he will need to up his offensive output and become a bit more consistent while playing.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Minnesota Wild - Mikko Koivu
It seems to be that almost every other year, the Minnesota Wild lose Mikko Koivu to an injury. Koivu has played a full 82-game season just once in his career but also has recorded 361 points over a 488 game span. The point production isn't the reason as to why Koivu is wasting his talent. The reason is that he hasn't been the star that the Wild have needed in order to make it out of the first round of the playoffs, which is something that they haven't done with Koivu on the roster.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Montreal Canadiens - Brian Gionta
Why would a veteran who has a Stanley Cup ring be on a list of the most wasted NHL talents? Brian Gionta has missed time with the Montreal Canadiens and it has affected his play. Last season Gionta only played in 31 games and recorded 15 points. In his 10 year career, Gionta has played more than 65 games 5 times. Gionta's plus/minus has taken a dramatic drop since he left the New Jersey Devils in 2009. Gionta needs to have a healthy season and make sure to keep healthy during the NHL lockout.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Nashville Predators - Alexander Radulov
Alexander Radulov has been a big disappointment for the Nashville Predators. Not because of his point production, but because of what he did to the franchise. In 2008, Radulov signed a three-year deal with a team in the KHL even though he was still under contract with the Predators. This signing cause a huge problem and Radulov eventually was able to play in the KHL. 2011-2012 marked the return of Radulov to the NHL. He played in 9 regular season games along with 8 playoff games recording a total of 13 points. Radulov was then notified that the Predators would not be extending his contract so he left for the KHL again, this time on a four-year deal. His struggle with the franchise is the reason that he is on our list.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: New Jersey Devils - Anton Volchenkov
Six years and $25.5 million. Think about those numbers. The New Jersey Devils gave this contract to Anton Volchenkov in July of 2010. $4.25 million a year for a player who has not recorded more than 17 points and has not played a full 82-game season at least once in his career. In 557 games in the NHL, Volchenkov has recorded 113 points. Devils fans should agree with me on this one by saying that Volchenkov's contract was a bit too much.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: New York Islanders - Rick DiPietro
He's 31-years old, yet it seems like Rick DiPietro has been the goalie for the New York Islanders for almost 15 years. In fact, DiPietro has been in net for New York for 11 years. Yet what has been plagued DiPietro in his career is injuries as well as poor play. In 315 career games, DiPietro is 130-133-8 with a GAA of 2.86 and a save percentage of .903.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: New York Rangers - Henrik Lundqvist
How can a goalie who has a 1.97 GAA and the most recent Vezina Trophy winner be on a list of wasted talent? Well, the 30-year old New York Rangers' goaltender finally made it out of the second round of the playoffs for the first time this season. His post season performances are the reason that he is on this list. Henrik Lundqvist has a career record of 25-30 in 55 playoff games and a save percentage of .917, which is not good in the playoffs. Lundqvist may be the answer in New York, but he needs help from his supporting cast as well as a better plan while in net.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Ottawa Senators - Craig Anderson
11 years in the NHL and he is now playing for his fourth team. The one chance that Craig Anderson has to become a solidified NHL starting goaltender was ruined while in the kitchen. All jokes aside, kitchen injuries and any physical injuries are not good. But for a player who has had a rough career, you have to sit back and look at the irony of this situation. Anderson was having a decent season for the Ottawa Senators but that injury ruined a good season for an Ottawa team that no one expected to compete that well in the playoffs.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Philadelphia Flyers - Luke Schenn
A 22-year old on a list of wasted talent? How could this be? Well, Luke Schenn, who is drafted 5th overall in 2008 is entering his fifth season in the NHL and has not panned out as the defenseman that the Toronto Maple Leafs thought they were drafting. Schenn was acquired by the Philadelphia Flyers in the summer. In 310 games, he has recorded 75 points and has a terrible plus/minus of -23. If Schenn wants to remove his name from this list, he is going to need to show improvement and maybe he can in Philadelphia.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Phoenix Coyotes - Kyle Turris
Former players for teams are acceptable for this list, especially players who have not been that successful just yet. Kyle Turris played for the Phoenix Coyotes from 2007-2011 and was then traded to the Ottawa Senators last season. He recently signed a 5-year deal to remain with Ottawa for $17.5 million. Turris was the third overall pick in the 2007 draft but has yet to produce more than 30 points in a season. This is why he has made my list, especially because he was a disappointment for some in Phoenix.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins - Marc-Andre Fleury
A Stanley Cup champion and a regular season dominant goaltender. Marc-Andre Fleury has been on the good side of NHL talk but he has also been on the opposite side as well. This past post season once the main example of what the Pittsburgh Penguins need to aware of heading into 2012-2013. In 6 playoff games, Fleury gave up 26 goals and had a save percentage of .834.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: San Jose Sharks - Antii Niemi
From one Stanley Cup champion goaltender to another. Antii Niemi was the answer for the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2009-2010 season. When he was acquired by the San Jose Sharks, many believed that they would finally get to where they have struggled to get to time and time again, the Stanley Cup Finals. Niemi has struggled in the past two playoffs for the Sharks. In 23 playoff games with San Jose, Niemi has given up 69 goals. Niemi is still 29-years old and has a chance to become better but disappointment can stick in players heads for the future. San Jose needs to hope that Niemi makes an adjustment to get better.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: St. Louis Blues - Brian Elliot
Another goaltender who posted a GAA less than 2.00 is on our list. Brian Elliot has bounced around in his NHL career. This is why his 1.56 GAA with the St. Louis Blues needs to be put under a more in-depth look. Before this season, Elliot had given up 374 goals in 142 games. He also has never had a GAA less than 2.57, which is a cause for concern in the future. Though Elliot's season was tremendous, one needs to understand that this year could have just been a fluke instead of the beginning of a trend.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning - Matt Carle
Matt Carle had been a mainstay in the Philadelphia since the Tampa Bay Lightning had traded him in 2008. This past offseason, Carle signed a deal to return to the Lightning. He is returning to a team that has been very good offensively and he may be looked upon to produce more offensive numbers than he did in Philly. Carle has had trouble controlling the puck and is very open to turning it over while in his own end. If Carle becomes more sound with his mechanics and focuses on doing the little things, he will eventually find his way off of this list.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs - James Van Riemsdyk
Another young player with an overpaid contract lands on this list. For James van Riemsdyk it is not based on performance, but it is injuries that caused him to land on it. JVR, as he is called, recorded 75 points in his first two NHL season. Last year, he was injured with a concussion and didn't come on until the very end of the season. In 50 total games, JVR recorded a plus/minus of -3. He signed a 6-year extension worth $25.5 million but was eventually traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in return for Luke Schenn.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Vancouver Canucks - Roberto Luongo
Roberto Luongo has been the Vancouver Canucks achilles heel for the past couple of post seasons. Luongo's regular seasons have gotten the Canucks a chance to make the Stanley Cup as a higher seed but his playoff performances have really been diminishing to a very talented Vancouver team. Luongo needs to have some success in the playoffs in order to find his name off of this list.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Washington Capitals - Mike Green
Injuries, on injuries, on injuries. Mike Green has not played a full NHL season for the Washington Capitals since 2007-2008. An offensive defenseman is hard to find in the NHL. Green has been one of the main offensive weapons in the past couple of season for the Caps. If Green wants to regain his talented form, he will need to stay healthy and try to put himself in better situations to succeed offensively.
30 Most Wasted Talents In NHL: Winnepeg Jets - Dustin Byfuglien
The last of the wasted talents in the NHL has to be our 'biggest'. 'Big Buf' as her is called by many around the league was part of a championship run for Chicago in 2009-2010 but has since failed to make the playoffs with the Atlanta Thrashers and eventually now the Winnipeg Jets. Dustin Byfuglien has always been a very productive offensive defensemen but he has also been a good enforcer. Byfuglien had a plus/minus of -25 in his career. In fact, he has never had a season that has ended with a positive plus/minus, not even in the playoffs. This offseason, there was a picture of Byfuglien with three former teammates. Byfuglien looked to have been extremely out of shape and close to 300 pounds. This is not hockey shape. Unfortunately, 'Big Buf' has taken his nickname a bit too far. This is why he is on our list. If he continues to succeed and produce well in Winnipeg then I will without a doubt retract him from the list.