We spend a lot of time writing about the best of the NHL, but what about the worst? I hate to be terribly negative, but I thought it would be interesting to see who are the most ineffective players when you combine stats, ice time and salary.
Dan Girardi of the New York Rangers is currently the worst possession player in the NHL who has played at least 400 minutes so far this year. His 39% Corsi is enforcer-level and not acceptable for a top-pairing player who makes a $5.5 million cap-hit through 2020.
When his most common partner, Ryan McDonagh gets on the ice without Girardi, his CF% jumps from a below average 47% to an elite 55%. Girardi provides limited offense, saps the strength of better players, and does not suppress shots at all.
How he has a reputation as good NHL defenseman is beyond my understanding. He is below average in all stats and has perhaps the worst contract in the NHL.
Johnson is a former third overall pick who is just never going to live up to the expectations that come with that high of a selection. To be fair to Johnson, he is a power-play weapon, but he just isn’t effective at even-strength. Last season he put up 40 points, which is great, but only 14 of them were 5v5, which means he isn’t effective when needed the most.
I think Johnson could be a good bottom-pairing PP specialist, but he isn’t the top of the lineup player he was acquired to be. This year he is inexplicably getting primarily defensive matchups and is paying for it by posting one of the worst possession ratings in the NHL at 46% while putting up just three even-strength points so far. When you compare his production to his contract, which carries a $4.35 cap-hit for two more years after this one, it isn’t pretty.
The Coyotes brought Vermette back in the summer, signing him as a UFA after moving him to Chicago at last year’s deadline. His return to the desert has not gone well. Not only did he get injured and end his iron-man streak, but he has failed to score a goal so far at even-strength.
Vermette is signed for for a cap-hit of $3.75 million for this year and next, and his massive decline has left a chasm at the centre ice position in Arizona. As mentioned, he has zero 5v5 goals and only has added only 3 assists while putting up a less-than-desirable 47.5 CF%.
The Coyotes were able to scam a first-round pick for Vermette last season, they will not be so lucky this time.
Famous for signing a ridiculous contract with the Leafs and then being traded for a player who is virtually retired, Clarkson isn’t doing any better in Columbus.
In just eight games this season, Clarkson has scored just a single assist while putting up a brutal 41% possession rating and skating just over nine minutes per game. To be fair, he has only gotten into 11 games since the Leafs traded him, but he has not done any better since being moved, scoring the same amount of goals as Nathan Horton, the player he was traded for. His $5.5 million cap-hit makes him one of the worst value players in hockey.
It is unfortunate for the Coyotes that they get two players on this list. Mike Smith makes a cap-hit of almost $6 million per year, for another three years after this one.
If we ignore the first two and a half weeks of this season (he started very strong) he has the third worst save % in the NHL, and the two guys below him combine to make a third of his salary. Dollar for dollar, he is offering the worst value in the NHL.
The worst thing though, is that his high-danger save percentage, often cited as the most critical and telling of the goalie stats, is the worst in the NHL. (Again, ignoring his excellent first two and half weeks).
Covering the Leafs for the Hockey Writers.