Last time, we looked at the most overrated defensemen in the league. This time around, we’ll take a look at the top 3 overrated forwards in the NHL. Scoring goals is the hardest thing to do in the NHL. So, when a team drafts a forward that they think is going to drive the offense of their team for the next decade, those players are expected to contribute consistently and often. Unfortunately, things don’t always turn out as expected. Here are the top 3 overrated forwards in the NHL.
The Top 3 Overrated Forwards in the NHL
3. Jake DeBrusk – Boston Bruins
After being a point-per-game player for three consecutive seasons in the WHL, the Boston Bruins decided to draft Jake DeBrusk with the 14th overall pick in the 2015 draft. After putting up 49 points in 74 games with the Providence Bruins, DeBrusk cracked the Boston roster in the 2017-18 season. He had a positive rookie season, scoring 16 goals and 43 points in 70 games. Since that time, his goal-scoring rate has gone up a bit (22 goals/82 games average over the last three seasons), but his overall point totals have remained fairly constant.
Despite this mediocre production, Bruins fans and the organization in general seem to believe that he is a first-line winger. He played the majority of his minutes last season on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, and he was also put in the same position to start this season. DeBrusk’s possession numbers and expected goals have always looked pretty good (playing with two of the best two-way forwards in the NHL will do that), but his actual production has never really caught up to his high draft position and the opportunities he has been given by the Bruins. That’s why he’s number three on this list of overrated forwards in the NHL.
2. Jesse Puljujarvi – Edmonton Oilers
Jesse Puljujärvi is another player who was a high draft pick (4th overall in 2016), but his career did not follow a linear path. After starting his professional career in Europe, Puljujärvi bounced between the AHL and NHL for three seasons before deciding to go back to Europe for a season and a half. After being a nearly point-per-game player there, he returned to the Edmonton Oilers with great expectations part-way through the 2020-21 season.
Once again, Puljujärvi is a player who has been put in a perfect position to succeed (last season his most common linemates were Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman). Similar to DeBrusk, this placement has led to him having excellent possession numbers (56.14 CF%) and advanced stats (58.25 xGF%), but it has not led to the expected on-ice production. Since returning from Europe, Puljujärvi has averaged just 20 goals/82 games and 42 points/82 games. Those are decent numbers for many NHL players, but not from a former 4th overall pick playing with Connor McDavid.
1. Patrik Laine – Columbus Blue Jackets
There was a big debate leading up to the 2016 NHL entry draft: should the first overall pick be used to select Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine? The common belief at the time was that Laine was going to be the player to replace Alex Ovechkin, the NHL’s next big goal scorer. At first, it seemed like this prediction might come true. His first two seasons after he was taken second overall by the Winnipeg Jets, he averaged 42 goals/82 games. It seemed like he was poised to break out into one of the best goal scorers of his generation.
Unfortunately, despite his incredible abilities, Laine’s career has not turned out as expected. The last three seasons (which also involved a trade to the Columbus Blue Jackets), Laine has averaged 32 goals and 69 points/82 games – excellent numbers for most players, but not for someone of Laine’s potential. His possession and advanced stats have also been very disappointing during that time period. His CF% is a poor 45.31 and his xGF% is an abysmal 41.13. With all of these factors considered, I think that Patrik Laine is the most overrated forward in the NHL.