The 10 Most Overhyped NHL Prospects
The 2013-14 season is quickly approaching, and with it comes excitement, speculation and anticipation.
The 2013 entry draft was a strong one, adding countless players to the pool of talented prospects. When it all comes down to it, being a talented prospect only takes you so far. At some point, you’ll have to prove yourself in the NHL, and as we’ve learned in the past, not as many are up to the task as expected.
The following slideshow identifies 10 players who won’t live up to the hype—this season, at least.
10. Robin Lehner: Ottawa Senators
Robin Lehner has played well for the Ottawa Senators when the opportunity has presented itself. With a .925 save percentage in 25 NHL games, the problem for Lehner isn’t lack of skill but his lack of experience.
Over the years, we have learned a few things about Ottawa’s starting goaltender, Craig Anderson: He is very talented, he plays a ton of games and he is prone to injury.
The way I see it, this season could go one of two ways for Robin Lehner. Anderson could stay healthy, in which case he would play 65-plus games, and Lehner’s impact with the team would be limited, or Anderson could succumb to injury again, in which case Lehner’s inexperience will become evident as the Sens rely too heavily on the 22 year-old netminder.
Either way, the excitement surrounding Lehner will fizzle by the end of the season.
9. Chris Kreider: New York Rangers
Chris Kreider made waves when he broke onto the scene back in the 2011-12 season with seven points in 18 playoff games with the New York Rangers, all before even playing a regular-season game.
Last season, we saw his production drop sharply with just three points in 22 games.
The Rangers have no shortage of talent, and with a new coach in Alain Vigneault, who is known to restrict his young talent, Kreider’s role could become very limited.
8. Jake Allen: St. Louis Blues
When the St. Louis Blues called last season, Jake Allen answered with nine wins in 15 games. The problem for Allen is that the Blues have possibly the best goaltending tandem in the NHL, and he isn’t a part of it.
With Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak standing in his way, each with one year remaining on their contracts, Allen may have to wait until at least the trade deadline before he gets his next chance.
Allen will be a regular backup in the 2014-15 season, though.
7. Filip Forsberg: Nashville Predators
Filip Forsberg is one of the most talented prospects in the league and should get an opportunity to play a full season with the Nashville Predators.
Forsberg will fit in well, but on a low-scoring Nashville team that misses the playoffs, it will be difficult to shine in the way that some are expecting.
6. Nino Niederreiter: Minnesota Wild
Nino Niederreiter had an excellent season with Bridgeport of the AHL, but he was not a happy camper when he didn’t get the call from the New York Islanders once the lockout ended.
The opportunity with the Isles never seemed to come, and perhaps a new beginning is something he needs—I just don’t think Minnesota is the answer.
Niederreiter will have a difficult time cracking the top six and will struggle to find consistency and chemistry on the Wild.
5. John Gibson: Anaheim Ducks
You’ve probably heard about some of the hype surrounding John Gibson, and for good reason. The young goaltender has already won gold medals in the IIHF U18 Championships and the World Juniors for the United States. In the 2013 World Juniors, Gibson had a save percentage of .955 and was named MVP and Best Goaltender of the tournament en route to victory.
Gibson was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks, but he has yet to play his first game with the team. At just 20 years old, and with Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth standing in his way, it may be another year or so before we get to see John Gibson in action.
4. Morgan Rielly: Toronto Maple Leafs
The road back to the playoffs has been a nightmare for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it’s resulted in too much pressure being put on young stars too early.
Morgan Rielly is a great player, and I look forward to the day that we get to watch him as one of the NHL’s best. But that day is a long way away.
Toronto has strong defenders, and there should be no rush to get Rielly into the lineup.
3. Aleksander Barkov: Florida Panthers
It’s really hard to say there’s “hype” about a player when it comes to the Florida Panthers. But this is as close as it comes.
The Panthers selected Barkov over Seth Jones and Jonathan Drouin for a very clear reason—because he is the type of player that they need now.
Barkov will play a full season in Florida, but his performance will be limited on a disappointing Panther team.
2. Ben Bishop: Tampa Bay Lightning
I know, I know—with 45 games played in the NHL, Ben Bishop does not classify as a “prospect.” But with the amount of hype surrounding the 6’7” goaltender, he had to make this list.
If you’re among the many who believe Bishop is the hero who will propel the Tampa Bay Lightning into the playoffs, think again. Tampa Bay went with size, youth and inexperience last year in Anders Lindback and it didn’t work out. Now they’re doing it again.
I believe it was Albert Einstein who famously said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
I’m not saying that the Lightning are a lock to miss the playoffs, but if they do make it, the new addition who makes it happen will be Jonathan Drouin, not Ben Bishop.
1. Nathan MacKinnon: Colorado Avalanche
Nathan MacKinnon, the first overall pick in the 2013 draft, enters this season as the most hyped prospect, as players in his position usually are. MacKinnon might have trouble securing a spot on the second line with the likes of Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny playing center in front of him.
Stastny has had an up-and-down career offensively but is poised for a breakout season as he looks to prove his worth in his contract year.
Expect a maximum of 35 points in MacKinnon’s first year in the NHL.