The Top Underperformers of the Eastern Conference
It is nearly impossible for a team not to have a player that isn't quite living up to expectations. Some players simply just haven't lived up to their expensive contracts, while other players are just having off years. Here is a player from each team in the Eastern Conference who has underperformed this season.
Slava Kozlov-Atllanta Thrashers
After a great 2008-09 season where recorded 76 points, Kozlov is having another down year. He has even been a healthy scratch lately for the Atlanta Thrashers, a team that traded away their superstar player in Ilya Kovalchuk.
Kozlov requested a trade earlier in the season, and even know it wouldn't have cost a team much to acquire him, there was still no interest in him. At the age of 37, I think it is safe to say this will be his last year playing in the NHL.
Tim Thomas- Boston Bruins
Coming off a season in which he was awarded the Vezina trophy as the leagues top goaltender, Thomas has been mediocre at best. Lately the Bruins have been going with their other goaltender in Tuukka Rask, who has much better numbers than Thomas.
He is currently making six million dollars this season and has another three years left on his contract. I can't see the Bruins paying that kind of money to an aging backup goaltender, so buying out Thomas' contract may be an option.
Patrick Lalime- Buffalo Sabres
Lalime was brought into Buffalo to be a solid backup behind Ryan Miller. So far in his two seasons with the Sabres he has played poorly. His goals against average is 3.02 and his save percentage just cracks the .900 mark this season. I know not much is expected out of Lalime, but I'm not sure Sabres fan would be comfortable with him as their starter if Ryan Miller went down with an injury.
Rod Brind'Amour- Carolina Hurricanes
There is no denying the fact Brind'Amour is having a horrible season. Through seventy games this year he has just fifteen points. Those fifteen points rank him a dismal 12th in team scoring. You add the fact that he was stripped of his captaincy in favor of Eric Staal, and is a team worst -27, it has been the worst and perhaps the last season for Rod Brind'Amour.
Keith Ballard- Florida Panthers
Ballard was acquired by Florida in the blockbuster deal that sent Olli Jokinen to Phoenix. The Panthers were getting a defenseman who recorded 39 points as a rookie. In 2008-09, his first season with the Panthers, Ballard recorded 34 points. His play was good enough for the Panthers to reward him a new contract worth 4.2 million a season.
In the 2009-10 season Ballard has struggled offensively recorded just fifteen points in seventy games, definitely not the type of season the Panthers were looking from him.
Paul Mara- Montreal Candiens
In 2005-06 season Paul Mara recorded a career high 15 goals and total 47 points while playing for the Phoenix Coyotes. Fast forward to the 2009-10 season where Mara has just 8 assists in 42 games for the Montreal Canadiens. He is a team worst minus sixteen. Mara has clearly not earned his 1.675 million dollar salary this season. He has gone from a top four defenseman to a borderline NHL player.
Brian Rolston- New Jersey Devils
At the age of 37, Rolston is still a decent two way player in the NHL. Getting 20 plus goals from someone that age isn't too bad. Paying someone five million dollars to score twenty goals however isn't so great.
Rolston was coming off three consecutive thirty plus goal seasons with the Minnesota Wild when the Devils signed him to a four year contract worth twenty million dollars. There is a good chance if the Devils could do it all over again they would think twice before paying him that amount.
Brendan Witt- New York Islanders
It has definitively been a season to forget for Brendan Witt. The former Washington Capital's
captain has has had no luck this season. First there was an incident where he was hit by a truck while walking in Philadelphia. He was also put on re-entry waivers by the Islanders, which meant any team could pick him up for only half his salary. No team picked him up and he was assigned to their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. It's Witt's first time playing in the AHL since the 1996-97 season.
He still has one more year remaining on his contract worth three million dollars. It remains to be seen if he will return with the Islanders next season or be bought out buy the team.
Wade Redden- New York Rangers
Redden's tenure on Broadway so far has been dreadful. After recording just 26 points in his first season with the Rangers, his lowest point total since 1997-98, Redden has only recorded 14 points in 64 games this season. He is receiving $8 million dollars this season, which is the definition of over payment.
He is under contract until the 2013/14 season. Some experts have called this this the worst contract in NHL history. A buying out of Redden's contract may be in order but it will be for sure a costly one for the New York Rangers franchise.
Pascal Leclaire- Ottawa Senators
When the Ottawa Senators acquired Pascal Leclaire at last years trade deadline they knew they were getting a goalie that had a history of injuries. In fact when they acquired him he was out for the season with an ankle injury. The Senators also knew they were getting a guy who was second in the league in shutouts during the 2007-8 season with nine. They thought Leclaire could finally be their answer for a true number one goaltender.
So far in his first season with Ottawa, Leclaire has continued to battle injuries, he has missed over twenty games this season because of two separate injuries to the head. When Leclaire has been in net for the Senators he has played poorly. He currently has a 3.18 goals against average and a .887 save percentage, definitely not the stats of a number one goalie.
Daniel Briere- Philadelphia Flyers
It's pretty safe that almost every team would love to have Briere in their lineup. However it's also safe to say that almost none would want to pay him eight million dollars a season. That is exactly what the Philadelphia Flyers are doing.
The Flyers signed him after he had a career high 95 points with the Buffalo Sabres in the 2006-07 season. He previous career high was 65 points, which is probably what kind of player he is realistically. His 95 point campaign definitively seems like it was a one time thing
Maxime Talbot- Pittsburgh Penguins
Talbot was a hero in Pittsburgh last season after scoring two goals in game seven of the Stanley Cup finals. This season he has been riddled with injuries. He missed the first 21 games of the season because of off-season shoulder surgery. His missed another ten games due to a couple of injuries.
On the ice, Tablot has not played too well. With players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the team, he isn't relied on to score goals, but one goal and four assists in thirty five games is just not enough.
Andrej Meszaros- Tampa Bay Lightning
Life outside of Canada's capital of Ottawa has not been too kind for Andrej Meszaros. He was named to the NHL's all rookie team after he recorded 39 points in 2005-06.He followed up his rookie campaign with another two solid seasons for the Senators. After the 2007-08 season Meszaros became a restricted free agent. He was not able to settle a deal with Ottawa and was traded to Tampa Bay. The Lightning immediately signed him to six year, 24 million dollar contract.
So far he has not lived up to that contract with the Lightning. His first season with Tampa Bay was going good until he suffered a shoulder injury and missed the remaining thirty games of the season. The 2009-10 season has not gone Meszaros' way. He has just twelve points in seventy games and is a team worst minus seventeen.
Dion Phaneuf- Toronto Maple Leafs
The last couple of seasons for Dion Phaneuf have been mediocre at best. He is not getting paid the high amount that he is to play mediocre. In his first three seasons in the league he was considered one of the leagues top offensive defenseman who was known to lay the occasional huge body check. Now he is is known as defenseman who struggling to find his game. There was a time not too long ago that Phaneuf was in untouchable but not anymore.
Phaneuf was traded in a blockbuster deal to the Toronto Maple leafs after struggling this season with the Calgary Flames. So far he hasn't done much better in a Leafs uniform. He has recorded just five assists in sixteen games with the team.
Jose Theodore- Washington Capitals
It's not that Theodore has played all that bad for the Washington Capitals this season. His numbers are alright. He currently sports 2.76 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. The Capitals are of one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup this year.
They are the best offensive team in the league but are middle of the pack when it comes defensively. If the Washington Capitals are going win thee Stanley Cup this year they are going to need more consistent goaltending from Jose Theodore or maybe it's Semyon Varlamov's time to shine.