Forget the Best or Worst, Which New Jersey Devil Disappointed You The Most?

That's Viktor Kozlov wearing #52, representing Russia and trying to hook Michal Rozsival. He disappointed me as a Devil. - Lars Baron

Driven by a user comment from a recent post, I ask the question to readers: which New Jersey Devil player disappointed you the most? As opposed to the best or worst, this requires a more subjective answer as it can be taken differently by different fans.

Disappointment. It's not so much a feeling of malice or disgust. It's not necessarily indignation or anger. It's a feeling all fans have and it can be one of the lowest because of what it comes with. Expectations of greatness or even average performance from a player falling short. A team choking away a game. A season where things look good on paper but the final result didn't come close to what could have been. It can stick for a while too. All fans are familiar with disappointment.

In the comments of yesterday's post asking who was the worst New Jersey Devil, user PA Devil brought up a similar, yet very different question: Who was the most disappointing Devil? The user pointed out that many of the worst Devils would be goons and enforcers - and they are - but it's a more interesting query to wonder who didn't measure up. I agree that there are far more possible answers than highlighting fourth line-only or third pairing-only guys. The user had some suggestions such as Matthew Corrente and Mattias Tedenby, both former first round draft picks who aren't NHL players, and Anton Volchenkov, who is a NHL player and is definitely not worth his contract.

So let's expand on this question. Some already had in response to PA Devil. User skly27 highlighted several players: the second appearances of Brian Rolston, Vladimir Malakhov, and Alexander Mogilny as well as the only appearance of Dan McGillis as standout disappointments. They were signed with the hopes of helping out the team and, well, they either didn't or didn't meet their lucrative deal (Rolston). User Sher-Wood brought up other categories such as draft picks that didn't pan out despite being selected high, players who weren't worth their deal, and players who weren't bad at all but fans didn't like how they left for one reason or another. These are all valid ways of being disappointed it. We can discuss whether it's right for one to be disappointed by a player, but for the most part, there's a lot of ways to make the argument. They can be added upon as well. Draft pick disappointments, for example, would likely have to include Rocky Trottier, Neil Brady, and Corey Foster since they all busted. It's a downer because they were each high draft picks and so they were expected to at least be NHL players like Craig Wolanin.

The concept of a player who disappoints is driven by personal point of view as opposed to raw data. Without setting some baseline for comparison, it's difficult to ascertain who just didn't meet the mark they should've met. Even then, the mark or the baseline could've been off to begin with. So I think this is a question that has to be answered subjectively as opposed to an objectively. I wouldn't ask you if I wasn't to give my own answer. Here it is:

There were few players I was let down more than by Viktor Kozlov. I know that sounds a bit strange, given he was a secondary scoring winger and had a long, serviceable NHL career. After breaking into the league with San Jose, he was a top minute forward for the Florida Panthers for several seasons. Granted, the Panthers were pretty bad but he was still a big man who made plays and eat minutes. I was looking forward to seeing how he would do after the Devils moved Christian Berglund and Victor Uchevatov for him. Instead, what I saw was a player who clearly had oodles of talent but rarely displayed them. I saw a 6'4", 232 pound man play smaller than, say, Brian Gionta. I saw a winger who would have one really good shift or moment and instead of being glad, I would just say to myself, "I know it can't always be so good, but why can't he do that more often?" With 14 goals, 17 assists, and 148 shots in 80 games, Kozlov didn't fit in New Jersey. I didn't miss him when he signed with the Islanders in the summer of 2006. Though, it irked me a little that his production was so much better in his final three seasons in the NHL. I would say he disappointed me the most among players. There were far worse players that I've seen than Kozlov. But because he wasn't much like the player he was before New Jersey got him (and after, apparently), he raised my ire.

So I turn the question back to users and readers like yourself. Which member of the New Jersey Devils disappointed you over the years? Was it a draft pick that never met their potential? Was it a free agent who didn't turn out to help the team as much as you'd like? Was it a player who was once good but went bad? Was it someone like Kozlov that you hoped would be an asset to the team but just was it? Whatever the situation is, explain who it is in the comments. Thank you for reading.

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