10. Patrick Laine
Of all the entries on this list, Laine’s inclusion is a bit of an oddity. It’s not like the young sniper had a terrible season. He still hit the 30-plus goal plateau and finished the year with a more than respectable 50 points. It’s just his numbers could have been so much better.
After a somewhat slow start to the season, Laine went absolutely on fire during the month of November. In the ten games he played in the month he scored an incredible 18 goals, including one game where he notched five. It was looking like was a shoo-in to lead the league in goals. However, in the next 61 games, he only managed another nine goals. In fairness to Laine, he’s still only twenty-one years old and has plenty of time to find more consistency in his game.
9. William Nylander
William Nylander entered the 2018-19 season as one of the league’s best up and coming players. The big problem was that Maple Leafs forward was also entering the season without a contract. Finally, at the last possible minute on Dec 1st, Toronto and Nylander were able to agree on a six-year, $41.77 million contract.
With Nylander missing training camp and the first two months of the season, it was expected that Nylander would take a little bit of time to shake off the rust. It ended up taking Nylander more time to find his bearings than the Leafs liked. In his first 19 games, he only managed to record three points. Fortunately, Nylander picked up his game and had 23 points in his last 35 games. With the contract situation now behind him, Nylander should be ready for a bounce-back season in 2019-20.
8. David Backes
David Backes established himself during his ten seasons with the St. Louis Blues as a gritty player who could put the puck in the back of the net. He reached the twenty goal-plus mark six times with the Blues which included two seasons in which he scored more than thirty.
In 2016, the former Blues captain signed a five-year $30 million contract. While his first two seasons with Boston were nothing to write home about, the 2018-19 season was a disaster for Backes. He was relegated to checking line role. He even went as far as admitting that he needed to be more of an enforcer if he wanted to keep a job in the NHL.
7. Jeff Carter
During the last decade-plus, there have been few goal scorers that have been more consistent than Jeff Carter. During his 14 year NHL career, Carter has hit the 30-plus goal plateau four times including a career-high 46 goals in 2008-09.
In 2017-18 Carter only managed to suit for 27 games due to a leg injury. Even then he was still on pace for nearly 40 goals. The 2018-19 season was a different story for Carter. He was healthy enough to play 77 games but scored a career-low 13 goals. At 34 years old, the twenty goal plateau is all you can probably expect to get out of Carter.
6. Loui Eriksson
It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time where Loui Eriksson was well on his way to becoming a bonafide NHL superstar. Starting in the 2009-10 season while playing for the Dallas Stars, Eriksson hit the 70-plus point plateau. He would record at least 70 points in the following two seasons as well.
In 2013, he was traded to Boston in a blockbuster trade that saw Tyler Seguin go the other way. He played three solid seasons for the Boston before signing a massive 6-year, $36 million contract with the Canucks. In his three seasons with Vancouver, Eriksson has been an utter disappointment. In 2018-19, he looked completely unmotivated on the ice and put up a paltry 29 points. Which makes Eriksson’s struggles worse for Canucks fan is that he still has three years left on his current deal.
5. Jonathan Quick
Before the Jonathan Quick arrived on the scene in 2008-09, the L.A Kings struggled for years to find a franchise goalie. For the next several seasons, Quick would establish himself among the elite goaltenders in the NHL. The high-point of Quick’s career occurred in 2012 when he led the Kings to the Stanley Cup, winning playoff MVP in the process.
In the past few seasons, Quick has not only battled injury but he has been stuck playing on a rather poor Kings team. Even when the team struggled, Quick still put up respectable numbers. However that all changed in 2018-19, as not only did L.A struggle, so did Quick. His 3.38 GAA and .888 save percentage were by far the worst numbers of his career. Unless Quick leaves L.A it’s hard to see his numbers get much better.
4. Corey Perry
There was a point in Corey Perry’s career where most people would consider him an elite player. Back in the 2010-11 season, Perry not only led the league with 50 goals, but he also won the Hart Trophy as league MVP.
While he would never match the production level of that career season, Perry would remain a solid point producer while still being an absolute thorn in the side of his opponents. However, in the last couple of seasons, he has started to show signs of slowing down. He missed the first five months of the season due to injury. In 31 games he only mustered up 10 points. While it’s easy to blame his lack of production on his injury, the 34-year-old might just be on his last legs.
3. Ryan Kesler
It wasn’t that long ago that whenever you were mentioning the top two-way forwards in the game, Ryan Kesler’s name was always near the top of that list. Not only was he solid defensively, but he could also put the puck in the back of the net. While playing for the Vancouver Canucks in 2010-11, he recorded a career-high 41 goals.
With Kesler playing his hard-nosed style, it was only a matter of time before his body would start to break down. In 2017-18, injuries limited him to just 44 games where be recorded a paltry 14 points. In 2018-19 he suited up for 60 games but only managed to put of eight points. In May 2019, Kesler underwent major hip surgery. His NHL career is more than likely over.
2. Milan Lucic
When Milan Lucic signed a massive seven-year $42 million contract with the Oilers in 2016, many people were skeptic about him ever living up to that contract. While the big power forward put up decent numbers in his career, he also put a lot of miles on his body through his hard-hitting style of play.
Lucic’s health has not at all been a problem in his three years as an Oiler, however, almost everything else has. While he a decent first year with Edmonton, recording 50 points. It’s all been downhill since. In 2017-18, he put up just 34 points. That total fell to just 20 points in 2018-19. With four more years still left on his contract, there is very little optimism that gets back to the player he once was.
1. James Neal
Heading into the 2018 offseason, James Neal was one the most coveted free agents and it was for good reasoning. He was proven goal scorer, hitting at least the twenty goal mark in each of his first ten seasons. The Calgary Flames ended locking up Neal with a five-year contract, worth $28.75 million.
Neal could just not find his groove in his first season with the Flames. Not only did he not come close to the twenty-goal plateau, but he also recorded a measly 19 points in total. Neal is still young enough to turn things around, but he’s going to be under a tremendous amount of pressure to produce in 2019-20.