by PuckStopsHere on 02/11/10 at 01:15 PM ET
It is often quite informative to attempt to keep track of the worst regular player in the NHL. It is interesting to see which kind of player a team will continue to dress despite their lack of success on the ice. More often than not, the worst regular in the NHL is a goon who contributes nothing but penalty minutes to his team. I think teams are starting to get the message that a goon like that is a poor use of a roster spot.
Earlier this season I picked Andrew Peters of the New Jersey Devils as the worst regular in the league. New Jersey quit playing him as frequently. He lost his spot as a regular. My most recent pick was Donald Brashear of the New York Rangers. Since his selection on January 11th, Brashear has only played in three NHL games (and only one since January 14th). He has lost his spot as a regular.
Another high profile example of a goon that stopped being played is Georges Laraque of the Montreal Canadiens. The NHL still has many goons, but some of the veteran ones who have been unsuccessful on the ice lately are losing their jobs and being played less frequently.
There is another goon ready to take over as the NHL’s worst regular. He is Raitis Ivanans of the Los Angeles Kings. In 52 games played with the Kings this season, he has no points. He only plays five minutes per game against poor competition and has nevertheless managed a -8 +/- rating. That is the worst of any Los Angeles Kings forward. When you rate adjust his +/- it looks even worse. Ivanans has completely failed to produce anything significant this season. He doesn’t score, but his opponents do - despite being of relatively weak level.
Ivanans is not new to this level of failure. I listed him as the NHL’s worst regular for a while in the 2008/09 season as well. In his career, Ivanans has never been a plus player. He has never scored more than eight points in a season and his totals of the last two years have been well below that level. He is an unrestricted free agent this summer and if teams have paid attention to him lately, he will not get resigned by an NHL team.
Raitis Ivanans is an example of a goon who maintains NHL employment despite failing to provide anything of value to his team either offensively or defensively. He is a player who would be easy to replace (and improve upon) in a lineup. Nevertheless, the Los Angeles Kings continue to play him.
UPDATE: Donald Brashear has been placed on waivers by the Rangers. Should he clear them, he may be assigned to the AHL. Thus his NHL regular days would be most certainly over.
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