Alexander Ovechkin and the NHL Season's 25 Most Disappointing Stars

Jason Sapunka@moreSapunkaCorrespondent IIFebruary 2, 2012

Alexander Ovechkin and the NHL Season's 25 Most Disappointing Stars

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    Remember that time Alex Ovechkin was considered to be one of the best hockey player in the world?

    Along with Sidney Crosby, Ovechkin was showcased in the 2011 NHL Winter Classic in a battle between the two superstars and their respective teams.

    Since then, the man who once won back-to-back Hart Memorial Trophies as the league's most valuable player has done little to impress. Along with many other hockey players, he's failed to perform up to expectations.

25. Sidney Crosby

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    Not that it's really his fault, but there are many hockey fans disappointed in Sidney Crosby being out of action again this season.

    When he was in the lineup earlier this season, Crosby continued to rack up tons of points, making his absence even more agonizing for Penguins fans.

24. Dustin Byfuglien

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    Dustin Byfuglien may be an offensive-minded defenseman, but that does not excuse him from playing defense.

    Byfuglien has one of the Jets' worst plus/minus ratings at minus-nine.

    Additionally, he is somehow seventh among Winnipeg defensemen in blocked shots at 25 on the season.

    At 6'5", 265 pounds, pucks should be hitting him a lot more than that.

23. Rick DiPietro

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    Does Rick DiPietro even still count as a letdown?

    He perennially performs below expectations for a starting goalie with a $67.5 million contract.

    With 47 total games played since the beginning of the 2008-09 season, DiPietro is quickly making his case as the biggest waste of money in NHL history.

22. Dwayne Roloson

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    Dwayne Roloson's magic juice supply sure did run out after the playoffs.

    Roloson had a miraculous late-season run last season when he helped bring the Tampa Bay Lightning to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

    Tampa Bay was content in sticking with Roloson again this season, but he has not shown the same magic.

    In fact, he has not shown much of anything, other than the fact that 42-year-old goalies are not exactly the most reliable netminders.

21. James Van Riemsdyk

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    James van Riemsdyk actually has a career-high points-per-game average at 0.59 this season, but that's not what Philadelphia expected from the 22-year-old after a dominating 2011 playoff performance.

    His seven goals in 11 playoff games led many to believe the 2007 NHL entry draft's second overall pick was finally poised for a breakout season.

20. Kyle Turris

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    Kyle Turris went third overall in the 2007 NHL entry draft.

    A few picks later at No. 6 and No. 7 went Sam Gagner and Jake Voracek; the players combine for six seasons above 40 points so far, and each is on pace to go above that mark this year.

    The ninth pick was Logan Couture, who just competed in the All-Star game.

    Turris, on the other hand, is still waiting on his breakout season. He's yet to score more than 25 points in a single year.

19. Andrew Brunette

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    Chicago probably was not expecting Andrew Brunette to have another 50-point season (he's had eight in his career) at age 38, but the Blackhawks definitely didn't want a career-worst season.

    Brunette is on pace for just 31 points, his lowest total since age 25.

18. Marco Sturm

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    Remember Marco Sturm? He was the centerpiece of the trade that sent eventual Hart Memorial Trophy winner Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks in 2005.

    Since then, he has had one 56-point season before floating off into an abyss of irrelevancy. Sturm has played for four different teams after the Bruins.

    The latest franchise that he's currently disappointing is the Florida Panthers, for whom he has just three points in 27 games.

17. James Wisniewski

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    James Wisniewski was heftily rewarded for a career year in 2010-11. The 51-point campaign helped the defenseman get a six-year, $33 million contract from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

    Wisniewski started off on the right foot by hitting Cal Clutterbuck in the head in September, resulting in a suspension that lasted roughly 10 percent of the regular season.

    Twenty-nine games and 17 points later, he's doing little to help the last-place Blue Jackets be proud of utilizing $5.5 million in cap space on him annually.

    He has been out since early January with a broken ankle.

16. Martin Havlat

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    Martin Havlat was traded straight-up for Dany Heatley this offseason.

    While Heatley has 34 points in 49 games, Havlat has just 15 in 26.

15. Sean Avery

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    The only player on this list to no longer even be in the NHL, it is debatable whether or not Sean Avery should even be considered a star.

    Now irrelevant as a hockey player, the notable property of the New York Rangers is nevertheless having his most disappointing season yet.

    Avery's career as a hockey player is a laughable collection of embarrassing events, the latest of which being a demotion to the AHL.

    It takes a pretty useless player to clear waivers twice in one season; every team had an opportunity to take Avery twice—all declined.

14. Martin Brodeur

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    Is this really the way we thought Martin Brodeur would go out?

    The legendary goaltender led the NHL in wins nine times, in shutouts four times, won three Stanley Cups, four Vezina Trophies and is the all-time leader in wins and shutouts.

    This season, Brodeur finds himself sharing the net with 38-year-old Johan Hedberg, a career backup.

13. Ales Hemsky

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    The source of many trade deadline rumors, Ales Hemsky is making a very bad case for getting a raise when his contract runs out after this season.

    Hemsky's 19 points this season has him on pace for the worst total of his career since putting up 34 as a 20-year-old in 2003-04.

12. Steve Mason

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    In his first NHL season, Steve Mason led the NHL in shutouts, was an All-Star and won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.

    This season, Mason leads the NHL in losses and is posting a goals-against average that looks more like a baseball pitcher's ERA.

    Mason is one of many reasons Columbus is the current laughingstock of the NHL.

11. Ryan Miller

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    Ryan Miller had consistently been one of the league's top goalies prior to this season, being one of the key components to Buffalo's victories.

    Miller was the driving force behind making last season's first-round playoff series go to seven games. The play was, for the most part, dominated by a better Philadelphia Flyers team.

    This year there is no such performance; Miller has a save percentage under .900 and his goals-against average is above 3.00 for the first time in his career (except for the three games he played in the 2003-04 season).

10. Ville Leino

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    Everyone besides Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier should not really be surprised that Ville Leino has 12 points this season.

    It was Regier who handed a $27 million contract this offseason to Leino, a player who was effectively still an NHL rookie at age 26.

    Leino's 53-point season in 2011-12 came with the help of linemates Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell; both have been All-Stars in their careers.

    For normal expectations, Leino is not that disappointing. When considering what Regier thought he was paying for, he's a huge bust.

9. Marek Zidlicky

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    Marek Zidlicky is an offensive defenseman for the Minnesota Wild.

    He has zero goals this season.

    With whopping numbers like that, he's having the worst season to date and has even been a healthy scratch lately.

8. Mike Richards

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    Mike Richards just continues to go downhill.

    After a career year in 2008-09 in which Richards scored 80 points and was nominated for the Frank Selke Trophy as the top defensive forward, the former Philadelphia Flyers captain has failed to live up to expectations.

    Two 60-point seasons were punctuated by a shocking (but well-informed) trade to Los Angeles.

    This season, Richards is no different; he is on pace for just 50 points and is certainly not earning his $6.6 million salary.

7. Henrik Zetterberg

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    For a player to contribute 35 points over 51 games is not particularly disappointing; numbers like that have a forward on at least the second line of any NHL team.

    However, for 31-year-old Henrik Zetterberg, it is a down year. It is a really down year.

    He's totaled more than 70 points in five of his previous six seasons (hitting 68 points in a shortened 63-game 2006-07 campaign) and has never totaled less than that since the 2004-05 lockout.

    Zetterberg has scored just one goal in the past 20 games.

6. Eric Staal

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    Eric Staal's season is similar to Zetterberg's; while the 37 points he has in 52 games is not a terrible mark, it is below his expected production.

    Staal broke out in the 2005-06 season, scoring 100 points as a 21-year-old. He has not totaled below 70 points in a season since, but he is on pace to do so this year.

5. Alexander Semin

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    As bad as Ville Leino's contract was, it is still looking to be a better deal than the one Washington has with Alexander Semin.

    His one-year contract carries a $6.7 million hit, or roughly $550,000 per goal so far.

    Semin earned that salary with two impressive seasons in 2008-09 and 2009-10, totaling 163 points over 135 games.

    He is on pace for just 50 this year.

4. Jeff Carter

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    Jeff Carter's season is going along perfectly with the rest of the Blue Jackets.

    Unfortunately, everything regarding Columbus' NHL hockey team is just a disaster right now.

    Carter was injured twice already this season, and despite having the talent of a 50-goal scorer, he is going to total less than 40 points.

    He's the source of a ton of deadline rumors, but he's doing so bad that no team might be interested enough to get him.

3. Chris Stewart

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    Forget improvement for Chris Stewart; the 24-year-old has found a way to play terrible as everyone around him is leading the St. Louis Blues to one of the NHL's top point totals.

    Stewart had 53 points in 62 games last season. This season, he is on pace to total 27 through that many games.

    When production is below 50 percent of what is expected, there is a serious problem.

2. Ilya Bryzgalov

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    During Tuesday night's loss to the Winnipeg Jets, Bryzgalov had a very impressive performance, making his first two shootout stops of the season.

    It took until February.

    That's just one aspect of Bryzgalov's unimpressive season.

    The low point of the season was his last appearance against Winnipeg; he gave up four goals on 10 shots in an October 27 game, leading to a postgame interview in which the 31-year-old netminder said "I have zero confidence in myself right now."

    Bryzgalov is not supplying the type of stability in net the Flyers expected when they signed him to a nine-year contract.

    Backup Sergei Bobrovsky has done far better in net, with a save percentage of .919 to Bryzgalov's .896, and a goals-against average of 2.42 to Bryzgalov's 2.92.

1. Alex Ovechkin

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    Keep in mind, this is the player who averaged more than 100 points in each of his first four seasons. This is the highest-paid player in the NHL (by average yearly salary).

    As players gain experience, they are meant to improve. Over the past two seasons, former superstar Alex Ovechkin has declined.

    Ovechkin is on pace for a 66-point season. That's just one point higher than his career high for goals.

    He's fallen out of the spotlight because of his own decisions, and he's been disappointing to not only the Washington Capitals as a player, but the entire NHL.


    B/R Featured Columnist Jason Sapunka is available on Twitter for NHL info.