As we are getting close to the end of the regular season, with most teams having played 75+ games, it’s only natural that we start doing our annual lists over best/worse etc. So here’s my list of the five most disappointing players in the Pacific Division for the 2014/2015 regular season.
Mike Smith (Arizona Coyotes)
Smith has been the undisputed number one since coming to the Valley of the sun. But after the great run he had in the playoffs during the 2011/2012 season he has been on a downward trajectory.
He was handed a big contract, and that put way too much pressure on Smith. He has not lived up to the contract and this season has been no different. He started the season as the No. 1 goaltender but was demoted to the bench after a poor start to the season. In came Devan Dubnyk and he played so well that he got traded to the Minnesota Wild where he has had a phenomenal campaign.
Smith has played better as of late, but it’s too little too late for the Coyotes as they have been out of the playoff picture for a long time and are currently second from the bottom of the league. A 3.14 GAA and .904 SV% just isn’t good enough for a goalie that makes $6 million in salary.
Patrick Marleau (San Jose Sharks)
Marleau is starting to show his age, and the 35-year-old Canadian is having his worst season since 2007/2008. He is currently only on 17 goals and a team worst minus-16. The Sharks have struggled as a team and it looks like they are missing the playoffs for the first time since 2002/2003. Much of the blame for the Sharks failure has been put on Marleau and Joe Thornton, and although you can’t put all of the blame on these two, they are supposed to be the leaders of this team and in that area they have failed the team.
With a no-movement clause in his contract, I don’t see Marleau leaving San Jose in the summer even though it would be for the best of the franchise if they moved on from both him and Thornton.
Justin Schultz (Edmonton Oilers)
Schultz was supposed to come in and provide scoring from the blue line for the Oilers when he signed with the team in 2012 after three successful years at the University of Wisconsin. This has not been the case, and after having a decent season with 11 goals and 22 assists last season, he’s had a very disappointing season this year and currently stands on six goals and 25 assists. He needs to score more, as well as become better in the defensive zone. Sure, the Oilers have been a hot mess for several seasons now, but there doesn’t seem to be an easy fox for this team.
Schultz need to step up his game, and become that offensive defenseman that can quarterback a power play unit and add that vital secondary scoring on the blue line. Has not lived up to the hype since coming into the league.
Dustin Brown (Los Angeles Kings)
Captain Brown has been on a downward slope for a couple of seasons now, but he always seems to get an extra gear as soon as the playoffs starts. The Kings have been struggling during the regular season, but they are currently in the last wild card spot in the Western Conference. Brown’s 11 goals and 16 assists must be seen as a failure for a player that’s on a lengthy contract and is making $7.25 million in salary this season.
He was having a pretty awful regular season last year as well, but turned things around in the playoffs, and Kings fans must be hoping that he can do something similar this season if the Kings make it into postseason play.
Mike Richards (Los Angeles Kings)
Richards has had a dreadful year that ended up in him being sent down to the AHL and the Manchester Monarchs. He’s been a shadow of his former self, and maybe all the mileage on his body has finally taken its toll. Add in his ridiculous contract into the equation and there’s no surprise that he’s on this list. Richards is pocketing $7 million in salary this season, and he’s only back with the Kings because of an injury on Jarret Stoll.
With only 15 points (five goals an 10 assists) in 52 games, Richards looks more like a guy that should be making around $1 million instead of a mind-blowing $7 million. The Kings should have bought him out while they still had the amnesty buyout available to them. If there’s anything negative to say about GM Dean Lombardi, it is that he’s sometime too loyal to his players, and that’s definitely the case with Richards.