phil kessel


Taking a look at 10 surprisingly bad plus/minus players...



Some fantasy owners punt categories in leagues, and plus-minus more than likely leads the pack. It’s the Rodney Dangerfield of fantasy hockey: It gets no respect.

There are numerous reasons for this. A lot of it has to do with the fact plus-minus is hard to predict each season, as there can be a lot of variables and big shifts from one season to the next (a player can be minus-20 one season and a plus-10 next season, a 30-point swing). It’s unpredictable, and fantasy owners do not like unpredictability.

Another reason for the hate is that a player can play exceptionally well on a shift, but if a goalie lets in a bad goal, then the player gets credited with the minus.

Plus-minus has been the source of many debates on Dobber Forums, as some think it is a useful stat, and others think it is useless.

When looking at certain players though, you can see a negative trend in their plus-minus statistics. Some you expect, while others shocked you at how bad their numbers are.

With that said, here are the top 10 surprisingly bad plus-minus players.

10. David Clarkson

This one is surprising because the Devils have had some excellent defensive teams over the years, yet Clarkson is a career minus-46 player. Last season, his first with the Leafs, Clarkson was a minus-14, and somehow, that wasn’t his worst season. In 2010-11, he finished with a minus-20. Even in his career year, when Clarkson scored 30 goals in the 2011-12 season, he was still a minus-eight. Only twice has Clarkson finished with a plus-season.

9. Tobias Enstrom

Enstrom’s plus-minus numbers are just another reason why fantasy owners are frustrated with the Jets defenceman.  In the last five years, Enstrom is a minus-26, and has been a minus player in four of those seasons. Even when he was getting 50 points, Enstrom was still finishing with a minus-five and a minus-10. So now that he’s a 30-point defenceman, it’s even harder for owners to live with the type of minuses he puts up.

8. Jeff Skinner

Skinner has only been in the NHL for four years, but except for his rookie season — when he was a plus-three — he’s been a minus player ever since. His worst year was 2012-13, when he posted a horrible minus-21 in just 42 games. This past year, he was a minus-14 in 71 games. So he’s showing improvement. Overall, Skinner is a minus-40 for his career.

7. Vincent Lecavalier

Lecavalier has been killing fantasy hockey squads’ plus-minus for 14 years now. While his horrible plus-minus was understandable in his first few years in Tampa when the Lightning were horrific, it’s not like he got a lot better. There were only two seasons he was a plus player (one was his 52-goal campaign in 2006-07, when he was a plus-two), and he’s been a minus-player for the last seven straight seasons. Last year with the Flyers, Lecavalier was a minus-16, which was only his sixth-worst season. He’s only one of two active players to be in triple digits when it comes to worst career plus-minus (the other is Olli Jokinen).

6. Jack Johnson

While many know that Johnson isn’t a great plus-minus player, it’s surprising just how bad he’s been. His best career plus-minus season so far has been a minus-five in 2012-13. With the Kings, he hit minus-double digits in five different seasons. Johnson is also the worst active defenceman for career plus-minus with a minus-97 (almost a minus-14 a year average).

5. Dustin Byfuglien

It doesn’t seem to matter for what team or position Big Buff plays, he’s pretty much going to be a minus-player. In his nine NHL seasons, including the first two when he played limited games, Byfuglien has only been a plus-player on one occasion: in 2008-09 when he was a plus-seven with Chicago.  Last year in Winnipeg, Byfuglien was a minus-20 for the Jets, and has been a minus-31 overall player since he came to the franchise four seasons ago.

4. Erik Karlsson

In three of Karlsson’s five years in the league, he’s been a minus-player. And when he does have a minus-season, it’s pretty extreme. In 2010-11, Karlsson finished the season with a minus-30 in just 75 games. This past year, Karlsson was a minus-16, despite leading all defencemen in points with 74. Much of this has to do with the Senators goaltending, but it is strange to see such a high-scoring defenceman with such a bad plus-minus.

3. John Tavares

When you think of how bad the Islanders have been over the last few years, it’s probably not surprising that Tavares is a career minus-player. But he’s never had a season when he’s been a plus-player. That just seems strange. Tavares has been a point-per-game player over his last three seasons, and is a minus-14 in that time. For his career, Tavares is a minus-45. It will be interesting to see what kind of impact new Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak will have on Tavares’ plus-minus.

2. Dennis Wideman

No NHL player has a worse plus-minus in the last five seasons than Wideman. Much of that is because he’s played on some horrific teams (the Flames and Panthers). But even on decent teams, he’s still a bad plus-minus option. With Boston in 2009-10, he was a minus-14, and with Washington in 2011-12 he was a minus-eight. In the last five seasons, he’s a minus-65, an average of minus-13 each season.

1. Phil Kessel

While Kessel has been nearly a point-per-game player with the Maple Leafs for the last three years, he’s also been a minus-17 in that time. In fact, he’s never been a plus-player in any season since going to Toronto, and only once in his eight NHL seasons has he been above zero. Some of it is due to the Leafs bad defence and shoddy goaltending over the years, but the fact remains he’s a risk to your plus-minus ranking. 


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#2 Dukenstein 2014-07-23 20:24
Powerplay time is part of what contributes to it. What drives me crazy is coaches pulling their goalie in a Hail Mary attempt to score and usually get scored on. The players usually on the ice at such times? Karlsson, Tavares, Kessel. One stupid goalie pull has ruined a lot of fantasy nights for me.
#1 goose191919 2014-07-16 14:33
A lot of it has to do with these guys scoring on the powerplay but not as much at even strength.

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