As most teams approach the mid-way point in this 48-game shortened season, it’s time to take a step back and make assessments. Who has been great? Who has surprised you? And yes, who has been a disappointment?
On most teams around the league – sorry Blackhawks’ fans – there is at least one player fans can point to as the guy who just isn’t living up to what they had hoped for. Whether he’s failing to live up to last season’s success, or simply underperforming under the cloud of a large contract, there are many ways to label a player as disappointing.
After taking a quick look around the NHL, I have compiled a short list of players who I think many fans will agree have been huge disappointments this year for their respective teams.
*Stats accurate as of March 6, 2013
Travis Zajac (New Jersey Devils)
After an outstanding Stanley Cup playoff run in which he was able to compile 14 points, including an overtime game winning goal against the Florida Panthers to force a game 7 – Travis Zajac was awarded with an 8 year, $46 million contract this past offseason.
Sadly, ever since the ink dried on that mammoth contract, Zajac has yet to live up to the level of play that was expected of him. In 23 games this season, Zajac has only been able to earn 7 points (4G 3A) on a Devils team that is in desperate need of offense.
While Zajac is still a valuable member of the Devils’ penalty killing unit and a fantastic faceoff specialist (55.3% on the season), the fact remains that he will need to greatly improve his scoring numbers if he hopes to live up to both his contract and fan’s expectations.
Stephen Weiss (Florida Panthers)
Even before it was announced that Stephen Weiss would miss the rest of the 2013 season to undergo surgery on his wrist, it’s safe to say that his performance up until that point was hardly what fans had expected.
After scoring an impressive 57 points last season and making his first ever trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs, Weiss and the Panthers’ organization as a whole came into the 2013 season shouldering lofty expectations.
In 17 games this season, Weiss was only able to compile 4 points (1G 3A) while looking lackadaisical during many shifts and simply not putting forth the same effort fans had seen from him in past seasons. Whether it was due to injury or his looming free agency, the fact remains that Weiss didn’t live up to expectations this season.
Sadly, Weiss will continue to disappoint fans not only because he is not on the ice, but also because his injury has now cost the Panthers their best possible trade asset as the April 3rd deadline approaches.
Mikael Granlund (Minnesota Wild)
It might be unfair to call a rookie a disappointment since we really have no prior NHL experience to look back on, but considering he was one of the most highly touted rookies going into the 2013 season, it’s safe to say that Mikael Granlund has been a let down thus far in Minnesota.
Coming into the 2013 season, Granlund’s name was being thrown around in the same category as other top rookies such as Jonathan Huberdeau and Nail Yakupov, a class that he is no longer in midway through the season. Through 19 games this season, Granlund has only been able to score 6 points (1G 5A) and currently sits at 26th in rookie scoring.
Granlund’s inconsistency has lead to him floating between lines and even spending some time on the Wild’s 4th line this season. This kind of play is hardly what Wild fans were expecting, but Granlund will have the whole 2nd half of the season to bounce back and dust off the rookie cobwebs.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton Oilers)
After an outstanding rookie season in which only injuries cost him the Calder Memorial Trophy, forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is in the midst of a sophomore slump.
Nugent-Hopkins was a media darling last season after scoring 52 points in just 62 games due to injury. Sadly, this season he has only been able to total 8 (1G 7A) points in 21 games as the entire Oilers’ team has struggled to produce on offense.
The most eye-popping stat when looking at Nugent-Hopkins’ season thus far is his shooting percentage – which currently sits at 2.1%. Nugent-Hopkins’ amazingly low percentage is magnified when you realize that he is tied for the lowest shooting percentage in the entire NHL for any player who recorded at least 1 goal.
Brad Richards (New York Rangers)
After they traded for Rick Nash this offseason, expectations were through the roof for the Rangers as many experts picked them to contend for the Eastern Conference title. Sadly, at the half way point of the season, the Rangers are struggling in the Atlantic Division as they wait for their offense to heat up this season.
One of the main reasons for the Rangers’ offensive ineptitude has been the play or lack there of from center Brad Richards. Through 20 games this season, Richards has only been able to tally 13 points (2G 11A) as he struggles to play up to his usual offensive standards.
Considering Richards scored 25 goals last season, his meager 2 goal total this year is a far cry from where fans would like him to be. If the Rangers hope to contend this season, Richard will need to improve his play as he anchors the team’s top scoring line.
Thanks for reading and please feel free to share your own thoughts on the subject in the comments section below!
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