There's an old saying, "Even a blind squirrel gets a nut sometimes." In other words, even those who are the least lucky or skilled occasionally find success.
In the National Hockey League, there's a corollary to this axiom: "Even the most graceless, lumbering, concrete-footed forward will still find the back of the nut every now and then."
Often, it's a lucky bounce when the player flings the puck at the net during a rush. Other times, he happens to have his stick in the perfect spot when setting up near the crease and deflecting a shot from near the blue line. Or maybe there's simply a super-fat rebound that trickles in front of an open net where even a six-year old could knock it home. Whatever the circumstances, this scenario tends to happen at least once to every NHL forward each season - or so the conventional wisdom goes.
Unfortunately, statstics don't always bear this out. During the 2013-14 season, there were 583 forwards who earned ice team in the NHL - and 67 of them were unable to score a goal. Now of course, many of these names are of skaters who were emergency call-ups to fill an injury-depleted bench, fourth-liners who only recorded a handful of minutes in one or two games, and/or enforcer-types who are looking more for physical contact than shooting at the net.
No one expects these guys to carry their clubs' scoring load. After all, many of them are making the league minimum and are happy just to get on the ice at all.
But then there are those players who are earning seven-figures a year. And if these dudes can't get the puck to trickle over the goal line once in a while, there's a substantial problem. Because no matter what their primary, secondary, or tertiary roles on the club are, at least a portion of their plump salaries are being wasted.
Capgeek.com compiled the list of players with the highest salaries who failed to notch a goal during the 2013-14 season by their average annual salary. It also does not take into account their AHL salaries for games played in the lower league. Here are the most highly-paid forwards on that list:
10 Arron Asham, New York Rangers - $1 million
9 Carter Ashton, Toronto Maple Leafs - $1.04 million
8 Ben Eager, Edmonton Oilers - $1.1 million
7 Louis Leblanc, Montreal Canadiens - $1.17 million
6 Patrick Kaleta, Buffalo Sabres - $1.25 million
5 Bryce Van Brabant, Calgary Flames - $1.35 million
4 Mike Rupp, Minnesota Wild - $1.5 million
3 Adam Burish, San Jose Sharks - $1.85 million
2 Jordin Tootoo, Detroit Red Wings - $1.9 million
1 Ville Leino, Buffalo Sabres - $4.5 million
Leino seems to be a classic case of cashing in and resting on his laurels. Ever since the Finland native inked a six-year, $27 million deal with the Sabres in July of 2011, his play has been less than stellar. The year after a 19-goal 81-game season in Philadelphia, Leino managed just eight goals in 71 games in the first year of his contract. Then he made only eight appearances in Buffalo the following season. But this past season has been an exercise in futility, skating in 58 games without notching a single goal. The Buffalo media has piled on Leino, and after head coach Ted Nolan benched him late in the season, there is speculation that the 30-year old's contract might be bought out during the offseason.
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