When it comes to players and teams in the National Hockey League, it seems like every single season can be categorized into three themes: pleasant surprises, reliable performers, and big disappointments.
Here we take a look at some of the teams and players that failed to live up to expectations.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Going into the season with newly signed unrestricted free agent defenceman James Wisniewski and newly acquired big-deal forward Jeff Carter, things were going to be different this year for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Unfortunately, things remained the same for the Jackets this season, and that means that the team lost bad and often. The Blue Jackets are by far and away the worst team in the NHL, and while that could mean getting the No. 1 selection at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, it also means that this club has yet to make any forward progress in the last few seasons.
The season got off on the wrong foot when Wisniewski was suspended for the first eight regular season games after his elbow to Minnesota Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck.
Things certainly were not any better when the Carter found himself injured on multiple occasions. Oh, yeah, the team also traded him to the Los Angeles Kings, where has seemed to find his scoring touch again.
Of course, you also have the Rick Nash saga. Nash was rumoured to be going to several different clubs at the deadline, and none of that ended up panning out for the franchise, which means, for now, the captain is still a part of the team until the organization decides what to do with him during the offseason.
It is going to be a long offseason in Columbus as the organization will try to figure out how to right the ship.
After finishing in the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference and losing to the Boston Bruins in a tough seven-game first-round series in the 2011 playoffs, big things were expected of the Canadiens this season.
While Habs goaltender Carey Price has done everything he can to help his team win hockey games, and Erik Cole has had a career year goal-wise, the rest of the team has not followed suit. After a sluggish start led to the firing of head coach Jacques Martin, the Canadiens elevated English-speaking Randy Cunneyworth, to the dismay of many, to take his place.
It has been downhill from there for the Canadiens since. The team sits last in the Eastern Conference and will more than likely be in the lottery for a top pick in the upcoming draft.
While this could mean good news for the future, it is the present that always matters in Montreal. For the Canadiens, the present has been filled with underachieving forwards, bad losses, and poor management decisions.
Come this offseason, the new regime will be a more than welcome event for Habs fans. That said, it will only work if management can get the Canadiens going in the right direction and back into the postseason.
Scott Gomez, Montreal Canadiens
Speaking of the Montreal, it is easy to say that forward Scott Gomez has been a terrible disappointment this season for the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge.
As of Friday, Gomez had 11 points — on the year. He is setting career lows in everything this season and is proving to be a big bust based on his contract.
In fact, Gomez did not score his first goal of the season until Feb. 9. Prior to that goal, Gomez had not scored in 368 days.
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
When the Kings signed defenceman Drew Doughty to an eight-year deal worth $56 million, the team hoped it was inking a Norris Trophy winner.
While Doughty has been up for the prestigious award before, he certainly will not be this season. Doughty has only 35 points, is a minus-1 and has just two power play goals.
For a defenceman who averaged 42 points in his first three seasons and had 59 points two seasons ago, these numbers are not what the Kings expected for the money that they are paying him. Much like his contract, what Doughty did get the team was a controversial buzzer-beating goal against the Blue Jackets on Feb. 1.
Toronto Maple Leafs
After such a promising start and a solid first half of the season, the Maple Leafs fell back down to earth in a hurry and will once again miss out on the postseason.
While the team has been able to get plenty of offence from the likes of Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Mikhail Grabovski, and Tyler Bozak, the club certainly has not gotten the best out of its defence or goaltending. The team ranks 28th in goals against in the NHL, and when you play that poorly on defence and in between the pipes, it’s going to hurt you in the long run.
After being sixth in the NHL’s overall standings on Feb. 6 with 62 points, things quickly went south for the Leafs after the All-Star Break. In 24 games after the break, the Leafs picked up just 13 points. That dismal stretch led to the firing of head coach Ron Wilson and the hiring of new bench boss Randy Carlyle.
The team has also struggled on home ice this season as the Leafs have won just 16 games at the Air Canada Centre. The Leafs also underwent their longest winless streak on home ice since an 11-game skid (0-7-4) in the 1987-88 season.
Simply put, it is pretty much the same story for the Leafs, just a different season.
Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks
While the Canucks have another Northwest Division title under their belts and another chance to reach the Stanley Cup final, one part of their team that has regressed this season is Ryan Kesler.
Kesler, a 40-goal scorer last season and someone who has averaged 69 points over the last three seasons, struggled offensively this season for his hockey club. While Kesler will either get close to the 50-point mark or get just below it, it will be a low for him in his last three seasons after getting 73 points last season and 75 points the season prior.
On the other hand, Kesler has done everything else right for the Canucks. He kills penalties, is aggressive, works hard and creates scoring chances.
With that said, when the Canucks needed him to step up offensively this year, Kesler failed to come through in the manner in which he usually does.
When you have a team with the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, 2011 Hart Trophy and Rocket Richard trophy winner Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Teemu Selanne, and Jonas Hiller in goal, you should play like a contender every season.
Unfortunately for the Ducks, they did not play like that out of the gate this season. Their early struggles cost them dearly, as the team will miss out on the postseason. (Though they still have a shot at making the playoffs, the San Jose Sharks have been another Western Conference underachiever.)
From the beginning of the season till December 1, the Ducks were dreadful. The team had trouble putting the puck in the net, keeping the puck out of their net, and did not get enough scoring from their top forwards.
The team’s poor start led to the firing of Randy Carlyle and the hiring of Bruce Boudreau. While the team has played much better under Boudreau, and even made the playoff race that much more interesting for a month or so, it will be all for not.
A full season under Boudreau next year should have the Ducks back in the playoffs in the spring of 2013.