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Is Dion Phaneuf of Maple Leafs really the NHL’s most overrated player?

Greg Wyshynski
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NHL players polls are always a good time. They're like the "Burn Book" from "Mean Girls", only with fewer devil's horns drawn on photographs and use of the word "fugly."

The latest one comes from the venerable Sports Illustrated, which crowned Loui Eriksson of the Dallas Stars as the most underrated player in the League. He was also given that honor in a CBC Sports poll one year ago, leaving one to wonder how long a player can be called underrated until he becomes "rated" in some way.

The next installment arrived on Wednesday, and it's the juicier side of that debate: Who is the NHL's most overrated player?

According to Sports Illustrated's poll of 161 NHL players, these guys are:

1. Dion Phaneuf, Toronto Maple Leafs D 20%
2. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals LW 8%
3. Scott Gomez, Montreal Canadiens C 6%
4. Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks G 6%
5. Dany Heatley, Minnesota Wild LW 4%

Rounding out the list:

6. Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils
7. Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning
8. Jay Bouwmeester, Calgary Flames
9. Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks
10. Mike Komisarek, Toronto Maple Leafs
11. Chris Pronger, Philadelphia Flyers
12. Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames
13. Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals
14. Olli Jokinen, Calgary Flames
15. Ed Jovanovski, Florida Panthers

Who do you feel is the most overrated player in the NHL?

Let's begin with the obvious: The inclusion of Pronger and Iginla on this list is patently absurd from an outsider's perspective, but hey, the players play the game, right?

Back in March 2010, TSN published the findings from a poll of 50 players and their thoughts on the most overrated player:

One answer in particular will not please fans of the Vancouver Canucks; 6% of players thought Roberto Luongo was the most overrated player in the game (the highest percentage of any single player). He was followed by a four-way tie between Vincent Lecavalier, Dion Phaneuf, Jay Bouwmeester and Sean Avery, who all hit the mark of 4%.

So Phaneuf has been on the overrated list before. Why the rise to the top, besides a larger and different sample?

He's been chatted up more this season as a resurgent player and a Norris contender. No doubt the players who find him to be counterfeit are going to be more vocal about it to cut through the praise.

But he's not even the most overrated defenseman on the Leafs. The gentleman down at No. 10 is. Unless you feel Komisarek's stock has fallen to the point where he's no longer overrated by anyone except for those looking at his Cap Geek numbers.

In fact, the basis for the players' feelings would appear to be three things: Coverage by the Canadian hockey media, as eight of the 15 players compete north of the border; the size and duration of one's contract; and postseason success, with a couple of notable exceptions.

Who is the most overrated player in the NHL?

Luongo's name remains right there if you're focusing on postseason accomplishment. Although if that's a factor, and whether the player's output doesn't match the hype, the names Ovechkin (for now) and Kovalchuk (for the last two seasons) come to mind.

But Scott Gomez? Overrated in 2012? Are we still waiting this one out?

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