2016 NHL Anti-All-Star Team, Position by Position
NHL All-Star Weekend is upon us. The pond-hockey format features the most skilled players in the league showing off their stuff.
Oh, and John Scott too.
Scott and his fan-voted satirical spot aside, you won't find any duds on the All-Star teams at the three-on-three pond-hockey tournament featuring squads from the league's four divisions: the Atlantic, Metropolitan, Pacific and Central.
But there are plenty of duds to pick from for this collection of players—the anti-All-Stars. These are NHLers who have performed so poorly up to the All-Star Break they should be forced to vacation in Siberia over the next few days rather than some hot beach in the tropics.
These guys are hopeless, having the worst seasons of their careers or just performing well below the expectations placed on them based on their salaries. We could only pick six, but there are plenty of options—maybe even more than the long list of potential All-Stars to choose from for the forthcoming official events, so feel free to list your own in the comments section below.
In the meantime, enjoy watching Scott in the skills competition.
Defenseman: Matthew Carle, Tampa Bay Lightning
Matthew Carle is an anchor on the Tampa Bay Lightning defense, but not in the positive way that word is typically used to describe a blueliner. No, the 31-year-old is sinking, and the Bolts don't have much ability to sever the tether thanks in part to the limited no-trade clause given to Carle when he signed his six-year deal worth $33 million in 2012.
Carle has had his ups and downs over a decade in the NHL, including a pair of seasons with at least 40 points and three others with more than 30. Injuries have kept him from being especially star-like the past few years, but this season he's the definition of an anti-All-Star. He has yet to score a single goal or even luck into an assist through 36 games. He's a minus-six player and shooting less than a shot on goal per game on average for the first time since his rookie season.
It should come as no surprise, then, that he's also got the worst Corsi and Fenwick percentages on his team, according to Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com. He's become a fairly regular healthy scratch, which he told Tampa Bay Times writer Joe Smith is "gutwrenching."
Carle has two more seasons at a $5.5 million salary-cap hit, so he could be a staple on the anti-All-Star team for the duration of his deal.
Defenseman: Justin Schultz, Edmonton Oilers
Justin Schultz has never lived up to the high expectations of him since he joined the Edmonton Oilers as a free agent back in 2012 once he left the University of Wisconsin to go pro.
He has always been a liability in his own end, but his offensive skills seem to be in decline now too. Schultz has three goals and nine points through 36 games. That's a 20-point pace over an 82-game season, but Schultz has missed 14 games with back problems, so unless he goes on a tear in the back stretch of the season, it's unlikely he'll get there.
It won't help that the struggling 25-year-old was taken off the top power-play unit, according to Bleacher Report colleague Jonathan Willis, blogging for the Edmonton Journal.
He's among the worst possession players on the team and is a minus-13.
So if Schultz's questionable defensive abilities are no longer balanced by his point production, what good is he to the Oilers? He signed a one-year deal last summer worth just shy of $4 million, but the pending restricted free agent has never fit the bill of the top defenseman they're in desperate need of. Given his price tag, his time with the Oilers is probably nearing an end.
Left Wing: Jonathan Drouin, Tampa Bay Lightning
If you look up the definition of anti-All-Star in the make-believe hockey dictionary, you'll see a picture of Jonathan Drouin right beside it. While you're at it, you should look up some of the meanings of those cliches the pros spit out regularly.
If an All-Star perpetuates everything good about the game—hard work, sportsmanship and merit—then Drouin is the opposite in his war against the Tampa Bay Lightning club that drafted him third overall in 2013. His demotion to the AHL makes him ineligible for the real All-Star festivities, but this is one team he can play for.
The 20-year-old has oodles of skill and, by all accounts, was a likable guy in the locker room, but Drouin wanted and expected more of a role with the talented Bolts and wasn't getting the ice time or opportunity he desired. He has a case if you glance at the advanced stats. According to Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com, Drouin has the second-best points-per-60 minutes tally and assists-per-60 mark on the Bolts roster. He ranks in the top 112 in the league in the former.
However, the way he has handled his situation is as anti-All-Star as it gets. Abandoning minor league team the Syracuse Crunch and awaiting a trade isn't helping his cause, his value in a trade or the NHL's brand.
Center: Cody Hodgson, Nashville Predators
We have a repeat anti-All-Star.
Cody Hodgson was a total flop with the Buffalo Sabres a year ago and earned this same spot as the starting center for the Antis.
His regression from a 20-goal season in 2013-14 has been stunning, and he has played his way right out of the NHL this time. The Nashville Predators were so desperate for a No. 1 center they signed Hodgson to a one-year deal in the summer after he was bought out by Buffalo following a six-goal, 13-point season.
All Hodgson has done this year is give the most dedicated advanced-stats supporters pause over the concept because the 25-year-old and fellow cement-footed free-agent signing Barret Jackman are leading the team in Fenwick and Corsi percentages, according to Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com.
Hodgson netted three goals and eight points in 39 games and was a regular scratch before being waived.
At least he improved his plus/minus significantly.
Right Wing: Chris Stewart, Anaheim Ducks
When the Anaheim Ducks signed Chris Stewart in the offseason to a salary-cap friendly $1.7 million one-year deal, there were a lot of hopeful fans of the Quackers who thought the former 28-goal scorer would step into a top-six role with the forwards and rediscover his sniper's touch.
Instead, he's been a fourth-liner for much of the season. He hasn't replaced Kyle Palmieri, who was traded to the New Jersey Devils in the offseason, or Matt Beleskey, who signed with the Boston Bruins as a free agent in July. Stewart has seven goals and 14 points in 41 games, which puts him on pace for the worst statistical season of his eight-year career.
He's got one of the five worst Corsi percentages on the Ducks roster, and about the only thing he's done well this season is drop his gloves—he has had six fights in 2015-16.
Goaltender: Jonathan Bernier, Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs signed goaltender Jonathan Bernier to a two-year deal worth more than $8 million and avoided arbitration with their No. 1 netminder last summer.
Unfortunately for the Leafs, Bernier has been a big bust.
Only the Arizona Coyotes' Mike Smith has a worse save percentage (.902) among goalies who have played at least 20 games this season. Bernier is a fraction of a percentage better at .903. Smith has been out of action with injury for six weeks and replaced by rookie Louis Domingue. But Bernier has no injury to use as a crutch. He's just been outplayed by James Reimer—a goalie the Leafs have all but given up on over and over during the past few seasons.
Bernier was expected to be the team's goalie of the future when the Leafs brought him over from Los Angeles in June 2013, but it wouldn't be a massive shock to see a new sweater on the 27-year-old before the end of the season.