Another hockey season is almost upon us, and today, each team, and each player, starts on the same page. With high expectations for many, especially in the NHL’s toughest division, the Central Division, we count down the top five players that are unlikely to meet those lofty expectations this season.
*Disclaimer* All of these players have tremendous amounts of skill, but one way or another, they just haven’t lived up to the hype. Please keep that in mind before you rush to the comments section.
#5: Nathan MacKinnon
Some may find it hard to believe that the reigning Calder Trophy winner as the rookie of the year in 2013-14 would have any business on a list of this nature. When one watches MacKinnon play the game, he certainly shows signs of greatness, and putting up 63 points while playing in all 82 games last season is an incredible feat. However, after one season in the league, many have heralded MacKinnon as one of the Division’s elite forwards, in a Central Division that includes the likes of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and even own teammates in Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. This season, MacKinnon will have to be consistent with last year’s tremendous start before he deserves the attention he is getting, in my mind, and that’s why he comes in at #5.
#4: Zach Parise
Another player with tremendous skill, Zach Parise simply isn’t earning the full paycheck that the Minnesota Wild are giving him out of his monster contract he signed three summers ago. In 2013-14, Parise played in only 67 games, putting up 56 points, landing him behind Jason Pominville for second in team scoring. The difference between their salaries? $6.5 million, and that’s not including the $10 million signing bonus the Wild paid out to Parise at the start of the year. Simply put, Parise has to do more for the Wild to earn every dollar. An Olympic player, the skill and experience is there, but Parise has yet to put it together in the State Of Hockey, as far as I’m concerned.
#3: Jarome Iginla
The second Avalanche player to land on this short-list, Iginla has yet to play a game as a member of the Central Divison, after Colorado signed the 37-year old as a free agent over the summer. Iginla is certain to bring experience to the Avs’ lineup, but many are starting to question the physical aspects of his game, after a 17-year career. With speedy forwards such as MacKinnon and Matt Duchene, it will be interesting to see if Iginla can keep up with the fresh legs, and if he can adjust to the skill that the Western Conference, especially the Central Division, brings. With such a long, storied career, there is no debating Iginla deserves some attention. However, I think Iginla is overrated purely because of the amount of success he’s had in his career: none. He’s come close twice now, but until Iginla puts a Stanley Cup ring on his finger, he will be one of the league’s best players to never win anything.