15 Biggest Disappointments of the NHL Season So Far
The NHL is in a great place this season. The parody of the league seems like it has never been in this position.
The Metropolitan Division's eight teams are no further than eight points away from second place. Six of the eight teams in the Atlantic Division have a very legitimate shot to make the playoffs. Out of the 14 teams in the Western Conference, only two seem like they have no shot at making the playoffs.
Do we have the new division format to thank? Whatever it is, it is making it harder to find disappointments in this league. There are a certain amount of expectations that come with a disappointment, so don't expect to see anything Buffalo Sabres related here. They may be very bad, but everyone knew they were going to be very bad.
Sometimes it can be a player that lets us down, a coach who we thought was going to turn a team around and didn't or even an entire team that just did not progress the way anyone thought. Disappointment seems like it is just apart of sports. The only team that is happy at the end of the season is the one that wins it all. Every other team ends the season in heartbreak. There are 29 teams, 29 fan bases that feel this disappointment. As of right now, however, there is a lot of optimism coming from everyone who still has a chance.
There are teams that should be better than they have been. That brings the point of this article. These are the 15 biggest disappointments of the season so far.
Nick Villano is the New Jersey Devils writer for Rant Sports. He also adds to the site's NFL, NBA and MLB content. You can follow him on Twitter here.
15. Calgary Flames Fall Apart After Fast Start
It looked like it could be a great surprise when the young upstart Calgary Flames got a point in their first five games of the season. Since then, it has not gone well. They have gone 14-27-5 the rest of the season.
14. Kris Letang
Kris Letang is on the fourth highest scoring team in the league. He just signed an eight-year, $58 million deal to be the top defenseman on the Pittsburgh Penguins. So why is he a minus seven with only 17 points? I understand he has dealt with an injury, but in the 31 games he has participated in, there is no reason he should be minus anything on a team that scores 3.16 goals per game.
13. Nail Yakupov
This has been a tumultuous season for Nail Yakupov. The former No. 1 pick had to deal with a bunch of trade rumors in the beginning of the season. Then his coach started to list him as a healthy scratch because he was not producing on either end. There was talk he could go back to Russia. Now he is out with a concussion. Hopefully he gets back on track because that could be a generational talent.
12. Michael Del Zotto
You know it is disappointing when you go from one of the most exciting prospects on one of the most popular teams, to playing so bad that you need to get traded just to get off the team. That seems to be what happened with 23-year-old Michael Del Zotto. He was just traded to the Nashville Predators and it looks to be an addition by subtraction kind of move.
11. Dany Heatley
Dany Heatley was at one time one of the most explosive players in the NHL. He had back-to-back 50 goal seasons coming out of the last lockout back in 2004. Those days seem like a lifetime ago as Heatley barely scrapes at relevance in Minnesota. In the final year of his massive contract, one would hope for some more scoring out of the 33-year-old. Alas, he only has 18 points through 52 games. That just isn't going to cut it.
10. Craig Anderson
The Ottawa Senators were a sexy pick for experts because of the up-and-coming offense and their stellar goaltending. Last season, Craig Anderson led the NHL with a .941 save percentage. This season he is sporting .36 points less. What is worse is the player that the Sens traded because of the presence of Anderson, Ben Bishop, is now leading the NHL in that same stat.
9. The Capitals' Defense/Goalie
Braden Holtby looks like he could be yet another failed experiment in net for the Washington Capitals. His three goals per game average is towards the bottom of the league. This team has been feast or famine all season, and over the last six it has been all famine.
8. John Tortorella
John Tortorella went to the Vancouver Canucks to take them over the hump that Alain Vigneault could not seem to get from this team. You have the Sedin twins to bolster your offense and Roberto Luongo manning your net. There should not be this many playoff disappointments. Tortorella is trying to one up that by being a regular season disappointment. Now he has to deal with his 15-game suspension for trying to infiltrate the Flames' locker room.
7. Detroit Red Wings
When you bring in offensive weapons like Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss into a supposedly weaker conference, many expected the Detroit Red Wings to dominate. That couldn't have been further from the case. Weiss has been awful and Jimmy Howard looks older every start. This could be a rare off year for the Wings.
6. Cory Conacher
This is another player who makes the Bishop trade look bad. Cory Conacher was the main piece that went to the Senators when the Tampa Bay Lighting received their goalie of the future. All Conacher was able to do this season was score four goals and get 11 assists. There is no injury for him, just terrible play.
5. Cam Ward
Cam Ward just did not look like the same goalie he has been throughout his career earlier in the season. Now that he has been injured since before the New Year, this could be the end of the line for Ward.
4. Evgeni Nabokov
The New York Islanders came into the season with a ton of hype after making their first playoff trip in 2013. That hype went away quickly when the Isles found themselves in last place for most of the season. While they have been on fire lately, they are still on the bottom and most of that is because of the terrible play of Evgeni Nabokov.
3. Anders Lindback
Anders Lindback is awful. He is 6-feet-6 worth of terrible. He is near the bottom of the league in almost every category. Hopefully, he eventually gets some pointers from Bishop.
2. Devils in the Shootout
The fact that this is so high on the list may be a little biased, but have you seen a team play the New Jersey Devils in the shootout? They have an 0-8 record. They are one for 29 on shooting attempts, with the only scorer being Reid Boucher, who is now down in the AHL. This team could be even more in the race to make the playoffs if they weren't settling for one point so often.
1. The Rest of the Edmonton Oilers
When you add Yakupov to the list of talent that includes Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Justin Schultz and Jordan Eberle, you should be much better than 16 wins under .500. They brought in Ben Scrivens from the Kings. On top of Ilya Bryzgalov coming in, you would hope they would show some promise at the end of the season.