by PuckStopsHere on 10/23/10 at 06:03 PM ET
During the course of the season, I try to track the worst player who plays regularly in the NHL. Last year, I picked Raitis Ivanans then of the Los Angeles Kings. He dressed regularly as a Kings goon but failed to score at all this season. Ivanans is in Calgary this year and has only played one game so far thanks to injuries suffered in his fight with Steve MacIntyre of the Edmonton Oilers on opening day.
I think it is too early in the season to clearly pick a worst player so far this year, but one very good candidate has been Simon Gagne of the Tampa Bay Lightning. His poor start is surprising because Gagne is a proven NHL player who has twice represented Canada in the Olympics.
Gagne has six games player so far this season with no points scored so far. He has a -8 +/- rating despite the fact his Tampa Bay team is one of the top teams in the league so far this year. He has had considerable ice time for the Lightning, but has been unable to do anything positive with it.
Tampa Bay acquired Gagne in a trade with Philadelphia this summer. It appeared to be a low price to pay when the Lightning gave up Matt Walker and a 2011 fourth round draft pick. Walker has not played yet this year due to hip surgery, but he has probably been more valuable than Gagne because he has not had a chance to hurt his team.
Gagne missed his most recent game, last night, when a stiff neck kept him out. This might be a chance to re-group and turn his season around.
Gagne is a high profile case of a player who has been terrible so far this season. He is hurting his team. Fortunately, his team has done well otherwise. I am not certain Gagne has been the worst player in the league so far, but he has been the biggest negative to his team. He has taken a lot of ice time and failed. He has too much talent to keep playing at this level and will likely turn things around, but so far Gagne has been a big disappointment.
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