Steve Mason has had a big sophomore slump after an impressive rookie campaign. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
This week the Top 10 takes a decidedly negative look at the NHL: which players have disappointed to the point of being one of the top 10 underperformers of the season.
Some have potentially cost their teams a playoff spot; some are just making it more difficult for their teams to secure high seeds; and others have simply cost fantasy owners pride.
We’ve chosen players who we figured would have seasons much better than they are having. So, while Chris Osgood has posted poor numbers in Detroit, how many people are overly surprised? Not many. And, therefore, Osgood has hardly been a disappointment, not in the way we’re defining it here. Also, we’ve excluded injured players. So, staying on the goaltender front, Edmonton’s Nikolai Khabibulin gets a free pass.
Here are THN.com’s Top 10 NHL disappointments so far this season:
10. Alex Tanguay, LW, Tampa Bay
Many believed Tanguay had a great chance to prove he was still a top-line player when he signed to play alongside Vinny Lecavalier. But Tanguay is on pace for just 12 goals and 42 points, the lowest full-season totals of his career.
9. Jay Bouwmeester, D, Calgary
Things aren’t going well in Calgary right now for anyone other than Miikka Kiprusoff. The Flames can’t score and although that’s not J-Bo’s fault, he was expected to provide more in the form of points. He’s still playing a ton of minutes and is plus-9, but he’s on pace for just three goals and 28 points, his lowest totals since his rookie and sophomore seasons.
8. Shawn Horcoff, C, Edmonton
Things have gone from bad to worse for Edmonton’s No. 1 center. Despite a cap hit of $5.5 million through the 2014-15 season, the most ice time per game of any Oilers forward and the opportunity to play in every situation, Horcoff is on pace for just 15 goals and 33 points. And if that weren’t bad enough he’s currently 813th – second last – in the NHL in plus-minus and at his current clip will finish the season minus-39.
7. Pavel Datsyuk, C, Detroit
Datsyuk is still one of the best players in the world – he blankets opponents defensively like few others in the league, has sublime offensive talents, is a plus-player who averages more than 20 minutes of ice time and wins nearly 57 percent of his faceoffs. But he’s on pace for just 19 goals and 62 points, his lowest totals since 2003-04 and about a third fewer points than in the past two seasons.
6. Thomas Vanek, LW, Buffalo
Vanek last scored as few as 25 goals as a rookie, but that’s how many he’s on pace for this season. He’s still just 26, so it’s tough to talk of his halcyon days, but remember 43 goals, 84 points and a league-leading plus-47 in 2006-07?
5. David Krejci, C, Boston
Another youngster with more than enough time to turn it around, Krejci, 23, had 22 goals and 73 points last season as a sophomore and was also the NHL leader with a plus-37 rating. But this has been an entirely different season for Krejci – and, to be fair, the entire Bruins squad – and he’s on pace for just 14 goals, 43 points and a minus-4 rating. Boston will have a really high first-rounder this June (and likely next), but Phil Kessel would look pretty good patrolling the wing in Beantown right now.
4. Brad Boyes, RW, St. Louis
Like Boston, St. Louis has been a disappointment as a whole this season. But Boyes’ inability to score anywhere near the pace expected of him makes him the poster boy for the Blues in Missouri. The man who scored 76 goals combined the past two seasons is on pace for just 15 this year.
3. Jason Spezza, C, Ottawa
With the departure of Dany Heatley, no one expected Spezza to put up as many points as in seasons past. But Spezza has averaged better than a point per game during his NHL career – this year he’s at 0.66. Yes, he’s been injured, but that affects his points total, not his average. A bona fide 30-to-40 goal man, Spezza is on pace for just 13, which over an 82-game schedule computes to 18, not enough from such a talented player.
2. Marin Havlat, RW, Minnesota
During the summer, Havlat was upset Chicago cut him loose in favor of Marian Hossa. Well, maybe the Hawks knew of what they spoke. The speedy Havlat hasn’t put up points at a slower pace since he was a sophomore back in 2001-02. As for his paltry 14-goal pace, the only time he’s scored fewer was in 2005-06 and 2007-08, when he was limited to less than 35 games.
1. Steve Mason, G, Columbus
Mason, 21, led his team to its first-ever playoff appearance, won the Calder Trophy, was a Vezina finalist and an Olympics candidate last season. This season he’s sporting a 3.26 goals-against average and .892 save percentage and the Blue Jackets are 14th in the West. His team’s woes aren’t solely his fault, but needless to say, if Mason was playing better, the Jackets would be, too.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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