Top 10 early-season disappointments

by Tom Collins on October 31, 2016

Looking at the Top 10 disappointing players after the first month of the NHL season…


Sometimes a slow start can be a harbinger of things to come. Other times it’s just a small slump a player goes through that gets more attention because it’s so early in the season. After all, there wouldn’t be as much focus on some of these guys if they went eight games with just three points in January.

Keep in mind that a pessimist might call this column the top 10 disappointments, while the optimist might call it the top 10 buy-low candidates. Most of these guys won’t be in a season-long slump. So, take a run and see if you can trade for a player on this list if you think you can get him cheap. Here are the top 10 early-season disappointments.


10. Elias Lindholm

Much was expected out of Lindholm this season. Same with linemate Teuvo Teravainen. Truthfully, either one of them could have been in this slot. But Lindholm has been slightly more disappointing considering he’s in his fourth season and was expected to break through. He has one point in eight games. But he’s averaging two shots a game, is winning 56 per cent of his draws and plays 60 per cent of the team’s power play.


9. Andrew Ladd

Sometimes a player just clicks with a new team with no issues (ie- Shea Weber). Other times, players struggle mightily (ie- Andrew Ladd). Ladd just doesn’t seem to have any chemistry with John Tavares. Despite spending about 98 per cent of his even strength time and power play time before last night with Tavares, Ladd has just one point in nine games. Although it should be noted Ladd was off Tavares line last night. But that’s looking like a bad signing early on.


8. James Neal

Neal scored Saturday. That was his first of the season and just his second point in eight games. Throw in a minus-eight (he hasn’t been a plus in any game yet), and it’s fair to say this is not what owners were anticipating. It’s extra disappointing when you consider he’s on the top power play unit. But on the bright side he got to play with Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen on Saturday when he scored the goal. That should earn him some more time with those two.


7. Keith Yandle

This signing has turned out to be a disaster for both Yandle and the Panthers. Yandle has just three points in nine games while the Panthers are just 4-4-1. Part of the reason behind Yandle’s slow start is that he’s on the power play just 52.4 per cent of the time (by comparison, he was on 86.5 per cent of the time two years ago). But Yandle is playing more minutes overall than in any of the last three years, he’s on pace for the most shots of his career and he’s playing regularly with Aaron Ekblad instead of the two stealing each other’s minutes. So, things could turn around in a hurry.


6. Pekka Rinne

The Nashville goalie has just been awful this year. He has just one win in six games, with a 3.22 GAA and a .906 save percentage. And if you own him in a cap league, he’s been killing you even more with a $7 million cap hit. There’s not a lot of positives here. But keep in mind Rinne will be the top netminder in Nashville for the rest of the year. And this could be the cheapest you might ever be able to get him.


5. Sean Monahan

The Flames have already played 10 games. And Monahan has just four points. Granted, all of them have been goals. But Monahan is averaging 0.4 points per game, his lowest of his brief career. He’s also on pace for his lowest number of shots since his rookie season. He’s still playing with Johnny Gaudreau and is on the top power play unit. It’s just a matter of time until he starts picking up the assists.


4. John Carlson

I’ve always believed that you could stick a fire hydrant on the Capitals power play and that hydrant would wind up with 40 points on the year. But that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Carlson is quarterbacking the team with the man advantage, but has just one point in eight games. But he is manning the Caps power play and has no competition from any other Caps dman to steal those power play minutes.


3. Torey Krug

Krug has been completely snake bitten so far this year. He has zero goals. Add in zero assists, and you can see why he is frustrating poolies. He’s also been a minus-four. But he’s still getting his opportunities. He plays 58 per cent of the Bruins power play as the Bruins go with four forwards, one defenseman lineup. And he’s on pace for 226 shots


2. John Klingberg

Yikes. Klingberg is on pace for zero goals, 31 points, a minus-31, and just 103 shots. That is not helping anyone except for opponents in head-to-head leagues. All of Klingberg’s points have been on the power play, so at least he’s helping there. He’s also on pace 154 blocked shots (my theory is the Dallas goaltending is so bad, the dmen have been ordered not to let any pucks through). But Klingberg is still Dallas’ top power play point guy and he has too much talent to stay this bad for much longer.  


1. Jamie Benn

It may seem a bit strange to have Benn on this list. After all, four points in eight games isn’t that bad. But it’s mostly because of who Benn is. Most expect him to be top five in points this year. He was the top winger chosen in many one-year drafts. To see a top-five pick struggle out of the gate is enough to drive an owner batty. But Benn is still playing regularly with Tyler Seguin. Benn is also seeing 4:23 with the man advantage, almost a minute more than last year. It’s just a matter of time until he is back among the league leader in points.