10 (Potentially) Overrated NHL Players
Considering Overrated NHL Players
This is among one of the most controversial topic for fans of any sport: determining if a player is overrated. The problem that causes the controversy and turns this into a hot-button issue is mainly the fact that perceptions will appear different to fans based on their individual experiences and team affiliations.
Some fans may vehemently disagree with certain players being referred to as overrated, which is a perfectly valid response. Others may think of names that are missing from this list and brew reasons for their inclusion in their minds. That's okay too.
Let's face it, players in the NHL have made it there for a reason: hard work, strokes of luck, talent spotted by someone—or many someones—along the way. But sometimes that talent might fade. Sometimes the good-luck charms go sour. Sometimes, as the old song goes, the old gray mare—or stallion, in this case—ain't what she (he) used to be. That's partly based on perception and partly based on cold hard numbers: a decline in production, skyrocketing goals-against averages and plummeting save percentages, etc.
Still, the players listed here have time to turn around their public perception. Maybe part of it is the quality of the team around them. Maybe part of it is due to unforeseen circumstances or aging. Maybe part of it is just personality. Everyone's case is different.
With all this considered, along with the knowledge that your mileage may vary, here is a list of some NHL players who are commonly thought of as overrated.
The sometimes-oddball captain of the Capitals has definitely seen his share of glory. Among the trophies in his cabinet are the Calder, Art Ross, Lester Pearson, Hart and Rocket Richard. But the days of Ovechkin scoring more than 100 points in a season might be over: his 65-point season in 2011-12 is the lowest he's ever had in the NHL. Sure, he only played 78 games, but consider that he played 72 games in 2009-10 and put up 109 points in that campaign.
He also rode the pine more than usual during the 2012 playoffs, once spending just two minutes playing in a decisive third period. However, now Ovechkin is enjoying himself so much playing for the KHL's Dynamo Moscow (16 points in 16 games played) that he's even considered just staying in Russia when the NHL lockout ends.
Another young captain with a full trophy cabinet—Rocket Richard, Art Ross, Lester Pearson, Hart, Messier, Olympic gold, a Stanley Cup ring—Crosby can definitely produce, as shown by his four seasons of more than 100 points. However, many fans may consider him overdone due to the exhaustive coverage of his return to the ice after a concussion this past season. It is of course a good thing to see a player with past concussion issues recover from another traumatic brain injury and return to his job, but the league breathlessly covered his every move during his first game back.
On that day, basically every headline on the NHL.com site was devoted to him. NHL Network pre-empted the game they were going to cover that night to bring Crosby's return to a wider audience. There was a special camera devoted just to following him around and updating people on when his shifts began and ended. Meanwhile, when another concussed player, David Perron, returned after a long hiatus around the same time, the media coverage was not even remotely as extensive—though he had been out of commission longer than Crosby.
Miller's best days as the starting goalie for the Buffalo Sabres could be behind him. He hasn't been among the top ten rankings for netminders in three crucial categories—wins, save percentage and goals-against average—since 2009-10, when he was rewarded with the Vezina Trophy and was part of the American silver medal team. Last season, as five different goalies managed to rack up GAAs below 2.00, Miller's was a middling 2.54. He also created some controversy by his response to his collision with Milan Lucic and reclassifying the concussion he claimed to have suffered from it as mere whiplash.
It must be tough to be the captain of the sole team that hasn't made it to the playoffs since before the last lockout. That's a given. However, a 2010 poll of NHL players named him the most overrated player and his production has taken a big dip since before he made the move to Toronto from Calgary. Where he once dished more than 40 helpers to teammates and put up more than 15 goals himself, last season he managed 12 goals and 32 assists. His on-ice struggles even led to his being reconsidered for the Norris Trophy and inclusion in the 2010 Canadian Olympic team. Toronto is also a pressure cooker for players due to a ruthless fan base and media cohort. It could be too much for him to bear.
The 2011 Selke Trophy winner (and 2010 silver medalist) wasn't able to string together a very good follow-up this past season. His goal production practically halved, his assists dipped as well and though he played just five fewer games this year than in his Selke-winning campaign, he had 49 points to show for it as opposed to 73. Part of that is due to injury, though. But like Phaneuf, when it was suggested that Kesler might win an award—the Conn Smythe in 2011—the mere suggestion seemed to throw him off and he did not perform well at all in the Finals.
The other half of the chart-busting 13-year contract signings the Minnesota Wild made this past season along with Zach Parise, Suter comes from hockey glory (his dad was on the 1980 U.S. Olympic team) and may very well find a second wind in Minny once the lockout ends, but he's certainly not your go-to goal-scoring defenseman—he's never scored more than 8 goals in an NHL season—though he is fairly good at dishing out helpers. Still, the blockbuster double signing led many fans to wonder if Suter was worth the price and it's of course quite too early to tell.
In fairness, part of this may be because of the less-than-stellar team surrounding him in Columbus, but as captain of the Blue Jackets, Nash was never really able to lead his team to much in the way of success—regular or postseason. As a result, he offered himself up as a sacrificial lamb in the name of helping the Blue Jackets improve. A noble sentiment, maybe, but the months-long drama that ensued as GM Scott Howson attempted to find a dance partner willing to take on Nash made it sound like the man is the embodiment of Wayne Gretzky when he's just a decent player who generally gets point totals in the high 60s. He even had to share his Rocket Richard with two other players. Eventually, the Rangers decided to dance, but with the lockout Nash has returned to the Swiss team that took him in last time.
In this case, being overpaid for severely underproducing is probably a more accurate way to state it. Gomez has a Calder Trophy and two Stanley Cup rings, both of those from the pre-2004 lockout days with New Jersey. Since those halcyon days, he's changed teams twice and his production has taken a nosedive. He has a no-trade clause (except for three teams he can put on a wishlist) on his seven-year, $51.5 million deal. Last season, he was paid $7.5 million for a campaign in which he scored just two goals and added nine assists. It got to a point where there was a gag website in English and French devoted to counting the time since his last goal scored—when he finally put one away, the site exploded in confetti.
Granted, Hemsky can't do all the defensive work alone, though it has recently seemed like defensively-weak Edmonton's asking him to do just that. Plus, he's struggled with injuries, though after bouncing back from one last season and turning around a dreadful season start, the Oilers rewarded him with a new $10 million deal for two years. But he hasn't cracked the 50-point mark since 2008-09 and may just continue to look overrated and overpaid unless Edmonton shores up its blueline some more to give him some help.
Like Nash from earlier, Luongo was the source of many trade rumors and speculations during the offseason. The fact that he was often benched in favor of backup Cory Schneider during the Canucks' 2012 playoff run, when just a year before he had been quite good in the playoffs until a Finals implosion, spoke volumes. He also disappeared from the top 10 lists for goalies in terms of goals-against average, wins and save percentage when he'd been up high on those lists a year previously.
So then came the headlines: would he leave Vancouver for sunny South Florida? Brutal scrutiny Toronto? Elsewhere? Luongo hasn't made a choice yet, of course, but the Canucks' former captain (in ceremonial terms only) isn't as big of a threat for opposing teams as he used to be.