Ranking the Most Disappointing Players in 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs
The Stanley Cup playoffs usually bring out the best in the NHL's stars. But for some, such as Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry and Calgary Flames goaltender Brian Elliott, the 2017 postseason isn't one they'll remember fondly for their individual play.
Perry didn't contribute much to the Ducks' march to the second round. Elliott's inability to match his 2016 playoff heroics with the St. Louis Blues contributed to the Flames' first-round elimination by the Ducks.
Perry and Elliott aren't the only notable stars to struggle in this postseason. Here's a ranking of the most disappointing players thus far in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs. Some belong to clubs still active in the postseason, while others played for teams eliminated from the opening round.
10. Martin Hanzal, Minnesota Wild
Acquired by the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 26 from the Arizona Coyotes, center Martin Hanzal was expected to boost the Wild's depth at center for the 2017 playoffs. The 30-year-old, however, couldn't prevent his new club from getting bounced from the opening round in five games by the St. Louis Blues.
Averaging 18 minutes and 44 seconds of time on ice per game. the 6'6", 226-pound Hanzal finished second on the Wild with 51 faceoff wins and third in hits (14). But despite his size and defensive skills, he managed only one goal against the Blues. On the offensively starved Wild, Hanzal's failure to chip in offensively contributed to their downfall.
An unrestricted free agent in July, Hanzal's inability to stand out for the Wild could also hurt his value on the open market. Potential suitors could now be leery of signing him to a lucrative long-term contract.
9. James Neal, Nashville Predators
tIn the 2017 playoffs, the Nashville Predators are enjoying considerable offensive contributions from their top forwards and defensemen. Power forward James Neal, however, is notably absent from their list of leading scorers.
Despite missing 12 games to injury in the regular season, Neal finished third among Predators in goals (23) and sixth in points (41). But in eight games through two rounds against the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues, he's scored only twice and collected one assist. That's well below his previous level of playoff production (eight goals, 13 points in 20 games) with the Predators.
Because the Predators are getting offense from throughout their roster, Neal's low output hasn't become an issue. Should that team production flag over the long grind of the playoffs, it'll be crucial for Neal to regain his physically aggressive offensive style.
8. J.T. Miller, New York Rangers
Throughout the regular season, left wing J.T. Miller was among the New York Rangers' best players. But in the 2017 playoffs, the 25-year-old is struggling to find the back of the net.
Miller enjoyed a career-best 56-point performance in 2016-17, finishing second among Rangers' scorers. However, he's failed to score through 10 playoff games. Miller has only three assists: one against the Montreal Canadiens in the opening round and two in the following round against the Ottawa Senators.
Miller is working hard and getting chances to score. He's been defensively responsible and playing a physical game. Regaining his scoring touch, however, could prove crucial to the Rangers' hopes of advancing past the Senators to the next round.
7. Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers
With 20 goals and 51 points in the regular season, right wing Jordan Eberle placed third among the Edmonton Oilers' leading scorers. But in his first-ever Stanley Cup playoffs, the 26-year-old has rarely turned up on the scoresheet.
Skating on the Oilers' second line with Milan Lucic and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for most of the postseason thus far, Eberle has managed only two assists in 10 games. On May 2, the Edmonton Journal's David Staples reported TSN Insider Ryan Rishaug said Oilers head coach Todd McLelland was "furious" with Eberle's play following Game 2 of their series with the Anaheim Ducks.
Young stars such as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are carrying the bulk of the Oilers' postseason scoring. But if they hope to advance to the Western Conference Final, veteran scorers such as Eberle must start cashing in.
6. Artemi Panarin, Chicago Blackhawks
Disappointing performances abounded throughout the Chicago Blackhawks roster as they were swept from the opening round of the 2017 playoffs by the Nashville Predators. Most notable was the poor production from left wing Artemi Panarin.
The 25-year-old's 31 goals and 74 points this season ranked second among the Blackhawks. But against the Predators, he was all but invisible, tallying only one assist. That's a far cry from the point-per-game pace (seven points in seven games) of his NHL playoff debut last spring.
The Blackhawks' early exit from the 2017 postseason was a team failure. However, Panarin's inability to elevate his game when his team needed him most was among this spring's most disappointing performances.
5. Brian Elliott, Calgary Flames
During the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs, Elliott backstopped the St. Louis Blues to the Western Conference Final. A year later, however, he couldn't replicate that effort with the Calgary Flames, as they were swept from the opening round by the Anaheim Ducks.
In his 18-game playoff run with the Blues last spring, Elliott had a 2.44 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. After a rocky start this season, the 32-year-old finished strong to help the Flames clinch a postseason spot. But in the series against the Ducks, his stats (3.88 GAA and .880 SP) are the worst among this spring's starting goalies.
An unrestricted free agent in July, Elliott's woeful performance likely brought down the curtain on his tenure in Calgary. His inconsistent play throughout this season could send the Flames shopping for a new starting goaltender this summer.
4. Kevin Shattenkirk, Washington Capitals
On Feb. 27, the Washington Capitals acquired defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk from the St. Louis Blues to bolster their blue line and power play for the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs. Shattenkirk played well down the stretch for the Capitals, netting 14 points in 19 games with the Capitals. He's since struggled through two rounds of the postseason.
In 10 playoff games, Shattenkirk has five points, with four of those coming on the power play. However, he's averaged only 18:37 of time on ice per game. Among his teammates, he and Jay Beagle are tied for the second-worst plus/minus (minus-four).
Shattenkirk earned a measure of redemption with his overtime goal against the Penguins in Game 3. Overall, however, he's failed to play up to expectations. A better effort from Shattenkirk could prove crucial to the Capitals' hopes of advancing to the next round.
3. Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks swept the Calgary Flames from the opening round of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs and are in the thick of their second-round series with the Edmonton Oilers. However, they reached this point with limited offensive contributions from Perry.
During the regular season, Perry finished third in team scoring with 53 points. A usually reliable playoff performer, the 31-year-old right wing has only one goal and three assists for four points in eight playoff games. He's seen third-line minutes for most of this postseason, averaging just 15:08 per game.
Perry's 19 goals in the regular season were his fewest in a full NHL season since netting 17 in 2006-07. Perhaps the physical effects of 12 NHL campaigns are catching up with him. If the Ducks are to advance to the next round, it will be crucial for Perry to rediscover his once-lethal scoring touch.
2. Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens
Left wing Max Pacioretty was the Montreal Canadiens' leading scorer during the regular season in goals (35) and points (67). Unfortunately, the offensive struggles of the 28-year-old Habs captain contributed to his club's elimination from the opening round by the New York Rangers.
It wasn't for a lack of effort on Pacioretty's part as he led his team in shots with 28. None of them, however, found the back the net. He managed only one assist in six games against the Rangers, finishing among Montreal's lowest scorers.
Pacioretty wasn't the only Hab having difficulty scoring against the Rangers. But as team captain, Pacioretty was expected to lead the way as he had in the regular season. His mediocre production was a significant factor in his club's early postseason exit.
1. Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was a significant reason why his club reached the 2017 playoffs. His regular-season performance made him a finalist for the 2017 Vezina Trophy. His postseason play, however, contributed to his club's exit from the opening round at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The numbers tell the story. In the regular season, Bobrovsky had a 2.06 goals-against average, a .931 save percentage and seven shutouts. But in the five-game series with the Penguins, his 3.88 GAA and .882 SP rank among the worst for this year's postseason starters.
Granted, Bobrovsky's teammates didn't play well defensively, giving up 34.2 shots against per game. Still, a Vezina-nominated goalie shouldn't give up three or more goals per game in the playoffs. Bobrovsky was the most disappointing player in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs.
All stats (as of May 4) via NHL.com.