Now that we are approaching the end of the NHL regular season and the playoffs are up ahead I think it is the right time to discuss which players are the most overrated and those that are underrated. When we speak of overrated it is nothing personal and most of the time it is not of the players doing rather the expectations that others have placed on them or the salary earned. These guys either get too much credit for what they do on the ice or too much ice time for the output they produce. As for the underrated group these are the guys who fly under the radar but perform better each season than is expected.
Top 5 Underrated NHL Players:
5) Michael Ryder – Montreal Canadiens: Salary – $3.5 million
Despite the fact that he has scored in almost every one of his NHL season the winger from Newfoundland cannot get any respect. He has made a career out of signing one year contracts and is only earning $3.5 million with Montreal this season (arrived midseason via a trade from the Dallas Stars). Was important in the Boston Bruins recent Stanley Cup victory and then not retained so he signed with Dallas. He continues finding the back of the net this season with 16 goals in 42 games.
4) Matt Moulson – New York Islanders: Salary – $3 million
If you are a thirty goal scorer in the NHL you usually aren’t overlooked like this winger is. He has made that mark over the past three seasons and is a nice finisher on the John Tavares line. One of the better pure scorers in the league, Moulson does not get much publicity. He is also very durable as he has played in 289 consecutive games for the Islanders.
The guy seems ageless with the thirty-six-year-old showing no signs of slowing down. He has been a member of two Stanley Cup winning teams. Has a streak going of scoring at least fifteen goals for fourteen seasons. 923 points in 1,074 games over his career. Elias holds the Devils franchise records for goals, points and assists. An underrated defensive player. He is one of the best Czech players to ever play in the NHL. All this and he skates in the shadows.
2) Loui Eriksson – Dallas Stars: Salary – $4.6 million
Last year he was voted the most underrated NHL player by 179 NHL peers. A telling tale. Still he flies under the radar. The guy is very consistent and good at everything. Big and strong, he is hard to knock off the puck. A good playmaker with great on-ice vision and an above average wrist shot. He also is solid defensively. Over the past four seasons he has averaged around thirty goals and seventy points. He averages a point a game. Not too shabby.
1)Andrew Ladd – Winnipeg Jets: Salary – $4.4 million
Even though he is the captain of his team he is overlooked plenty. Has won two Stanley Cups with the Chicago Black Hawks and Carolina Hurricanes. In this late season race towards the playoffs he has put his team on his back and almost singlehandedly brought them to the precipice of playoff participation. Over thirty-three games this season he has thirty-two points and is +9. A spirited player he plays a physical game. Gets almost no recognition around the league and I think he would be a great addition to the Canadian squad for the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
Top 5 Overrated NHL Players:
5) Dany Heatley – Minnesota Wild: Salary – $6 million
Ever since the 2006-07 season where he got 106 points he has pretty much been a bust. After being traded from the Ottawa Senators to the San Jose Sharks he did well in the first season there with 82 points. Since then he produced less and less points every year. After a season of 64 points he was traded to the Minnesota Wild and he sunk even further down to 53 points. This season Heatley had a respectable 11 goals, 10 assists or 21 points in 36 games but he was a terrible -12. He really is only as good as his linemates.
4) Roberto Luongo – Vancouver Canucks: Salary – $6.7 million
This guy has fallen far. From being considered one of the better goalies in the league who was the starting goaltender for the gold medal winning Canadian Olympic Hockey Team in 2010 he is now not even the number one goaltender with his NHL team. Ever since he lost his starting position last season there has been a trade watch going on. Teams have inquired but his huge salary and the length of his contract (9 years left) have deterred teams from making the leap. He now remains the most expensive back-up goalie in the NHL. Luongo has also earned (warranted or not) the reputation of a goalie who crumbles when his team needs him most.
3) Vincent Lecavalier – Tampa Bay Lightning: Salary – $10 million
Here is another guy who signed a contract he could not possibly live up to. Who could live up to $10 million a year maybe other than Sidney Crosby? His contract also goes on for another seven years with three more seasons being at $10 million. Lecavalier won the Maurice Richard Trophy in 2007 for scoring the most goals in the league then signed the big contract and has never lived up to it. After two seasons of 52 and 40 goals he has been on a steady decline notching 29, 24, 25, and 22 in the subsequent seasons. What also does not help is that as he gets older (he is now 32) his body seems to be breaking down as he is frequently injured. He is no longer a top-line player as he is being paid.
2) Jay Bouwmeester – St. Louis Blues: Salary – $6.6 million
Another player who is overpaid for what he produces. He has never put up the numbers to warrant this kind of money. I guess he was granted the contract based on his potential. A potential he never reached. For a player of his size he is quite soft and his offensive numbers are no way near what the Calgary Flames (team who signed him to the contract) would have hoped. Bouwmeester only score twelve goals over his four seasons with Calgary and has failed to reach the forty point plateau for three straight seasons. As a defenseman known for the offensive side of the game the fact that he is not doing that anymore makes him a weakness rather and asset to any team. This is part of the reason he was traded this year at the trade deadline to the St. Louis Blues. Most damning is his streak (which will end this year due to the trade) of regular season games without making the playoffs. He has played over 750 games without making the playoffs. The good thing is that he only has one more year on his contract.
1)Dion Phaneuf – Toronto Maple Leafs: Salary – $6.5 million
Sports Illustrated conducted a survey of NHL players asking them who they thought was the most overrated player in the league. The result came back as Leafs defenseman and captain Dion Phaneuf. Ouch! Must hurt to be voted the most overrated player in the league by your peers. The cherry on top of that sour sundae is that it is the second year in a row he has been voted most overrated. An average defender throughout his career, he really hasn’t done anything to warrant such money. He too only has one year remaining on his contract ($5.5 million).