And I’m back with Part 3 of my One-Hit Wonders series. What started as a quick post to reminisce and hit the “where are they now?” curiosity itch about past NHL’ers turned into a full series as I kept finding more and more players who fit this category in some way.
This time, we look at a player who exploded in a surprise run to the Cup Finals, a struggling top prospect who found his game for a bit late in his career, a goaltender who stole a lot of games in an unbelievable 24 game stretch, and a prospect with a ton of scoring talent who peaked immediately and could not sustain that level of play.
Ville Leino began his pro career in Finland, where he spent 8 seasons working his way up the ranks into becoming one of the best scorers in the Liiga, Finland’s top hockey league. In his last season before moving to North America, Leino had 77 points in 55 games, winning the Lasse Oskanen Trophy as the league’s best player in the regular season.
He then signed with the Detroit Red Wings, where he spent the next 2 seasons between the NHL and AHL, recording 16 points in 55 games. Ville was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers ahead of the 2010 Trade Deadline, setting the stage for his breakout.
Entering the playoffs as a healthy scratch, Leino got playing time due to other injuries on the Flyers’ roster. Ville Leino then proceeded to score 21 points in 19 games as the Flyers went all the way to the Cup Finals. To this day, he remains tied for the All-Time NHL record for most points by a rookie in a single playoff season alongside Dino Ciccarelli and Jake Guentzel.
Remaining confident heading into the next season, Leino saw a huge bump in ice time (averaging about 3 minutes more per game than past seasons), put up 53 points in 81 games, and even managed to get a Selke vote.
As an unrestricted free agent, Leino signed a six-year, $27 million with the Buffalo Sabres. Now it is going to be difficult for anyone to perform well on the Sabres teams of those years but Leino still did not come close to meeting expectations. His first season was a huge drop-off from the year before, with 25 points in 71 games. The season after that, he played only 8 games, but did have 6 points. His last season in Buffalo, he played 58 games but failed to score a single goal, recording only 15 assists before being bought out after the season.
In his post-NHL career, Leino returned to Europe where he jumped around between the KHL, NLA, and SEL for the next 3 seasons.
Jacques Richard was one of the up-and-coming NHL superstars of the late 1960’s. He was an offensive force through his time with the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL. Richard recorded 399 points in 169 games over 3 seasons there. He became one of the most highly touted prospects heading into the 1972 NHL Draft, where he was selected second overall by the Atlanta Flames.
Richard’s transition into the NHL was difficult. He did not quite fit in in Atlanta, had 13 goals and 31 points in 74 games, and unexpectedly left the team for a period to return home to Quebec City. He scored 27 goals in his second season, but that was unsustainable for him and after his third season in Atlanta he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres.
His time in Buffalo was largely split between the NHL and the Hershey Bears of the AHL. In his first season with the Sabres, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated, and his struggles with mental health and addictions were impacting him on a deeper level. After three seasons in the Sabres organization, marred with incidents in his personal life and underperformance at the NHL level, Buffalo terminated Richard’s contract.
Jacques Richard then signed with the Quebec Nordiques. He spent most of the first season in the AHL, but had 15 points in 14 NHL games. Richard’s 1980-81 season is his peak, his breakout year that showed some of the promise he had in junior. He finished the year with 52 goals and 103 points, good for seventh in goals and tenth in points leaguewide. Finally, the second overall pick from almost a decade prior looked like he had found his game.
He did not sustain this and in 1981-82 he fell to 41 points in 59 games. He played one more season in the NHL, getting 23 points in 35 games, then retired soon after. Richard continued to struggle in his personal life post-retirement. He was sentenced to prison time for drug smuggling and died in a car accident in 2002, just after his 50th birthday.
Richard was a fairly extreme example of a one-hit wonder, coming out of nowhere late in his career to more than double his previous career high.
Goaltender Andrew Hammond exploded on the NHL scene back in 2014-15 with one of the greatest 24 game performances hockey fans have ever seen.
Hammond was signed by the Ottawa Senators in 2013 and finished the 2012-13 season with the Binghamton Senators of the AHL. He also started the next season in the AHL but did make his NHL debut in relief of Robin Lehner who was pulled in a game against the Red Wings.
Andrew Hammond again began the 2014-15 season in the AHL, but joined the Senators in February. He made his first start on February 18th, winning the game and making 42 saves. This was the beginning of Hammond’s unreal one-hit wonder season. Soon after his first win, Hammond put up his first 2 shutouts, blanking the Ducks and Kings back-to-back.
Hammond proceeded to allow 2 goals or fewer in his first 12 starts, tying a record set nearly 80 years prior by Frank Brimsek.
Andrew Hammond and the Senators continued this insane level of play through the remainder of the season, pushing the Senators into an unexpected playoff birth. Hammond’s record that season was 20-1-2 with a goals against average of 1.79, SV% of .943, and an 18.3 GSAA. His GSAA was good enough for fifth in the league despite only playing in 24 games compared to the 50-70+ that the others around him in the standings played. His play was recognized in the award ballots, too. Hammond played 15th in Hart Trophy voting (a fourth place vote and 6 fifth place votes) and 7th in Vezina voting (a third place vote).
Hammond’s level of play was unsustainable, however, as he was nowhere near as impactful the years following. He split the next 2 seasons between the AHL and NHL with a 7-13-4 record over 30 NHL appearances before being traded to the Avalanche. He split the remainder of the season on loan with the Belleville Senators and in the Avalanche organization.
Hammond has been in the AHL since then, under contract with the Minnesota Wild and playing with their AHL affiliate until being traded to Montreal in February 2022.
That 24 game stretch for Andrew Hammond is one of the most impressive and dominant streaks we have ever seen from an individual player. And as fun as it would have been for him to keep it up in the following seasons, it was ultimately unsustainable and Hammond, so far, falls in one-hit wonder territory.
Dmitri Kvartalnov had a lengthy hockey career, spanning 25 years. Most of that was spent in Europe and the USSR/Russia. Dmitri did spend 3 seasons in North America, however, where he split time between a couple of minor league teams and the Boston Bruins. His time in the NHL only spanned 112 games over 2 seasons, but his stand-out rookie season was a definite example of a one-hit wonder in the NHL.
Kvartalnov spent most of his early career with Khimik Voskresensk in the Soviet League, where he was the Russian Super League’s top scorer in 1989-90 with 54 points in 46 games.
In the early 90’s, Eastern Europeans began coming over to North America, Kvartalnov was one of them. He joined the San Diego Gulls of the IHL in 1991-92. Dmitri was immediately successful, playing 77 games that season and recording 118 points.
He found himself on the radar of some in the NHL. Soon after his debut in North America with the Gulls, the Boston Bruins selected him 16th overall in the 1992 NHL Draft.
Kvartalnov made his NHL debut the following season and he immediately continued his success from the IHL. He set an NHL record by beginning his career on a 14 game point streak, scoring 12 goals and 22 points in those games. Dmitri’s pace slowed down a bit over the course of the season but the ended up with 30 goals and 72 points in 73 games.
Over the 1993 offseason, Kvartalnov was involved in an interesting situation with the NHL’s expansion drafts for the Florida Panthers and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Initially, the teams were under the impression that second year pros were not exempt from being selected and had to be protected by the team. Kvartalnov, having played one season with the San Diego Gulls and one with the Bruins, was assumed to have been a second year pro. The Bruins left Kvartalnov, a 30-goal scorer in his rookie year, unprotected, to the surprise of the Ducks and Panthers.
The NHL even printed official publication including Kvartalnov on the unprotected list. But, right before the expansion draft, the league decided that a bunch of players, including Kvartalnov, were exempt. Dmitri Kvartalnov could stay as a Boston Bruin.
Turns out, it wasn’t a huge deal anyways, Kvartalnov’s rookie season was a one-hit wonder. The following year, he played in 39 games for the Boston Bruins, scoring 12 goals and 19 points before being sent down to the Providence Bruins of the AHL.
That was the end of his North American pro career, as Dmitri Kvartalnov went back to Europe after the 1993-94 season. Over the next 14 seasons, he played for 9 teams across 7 different leagues before finishing back with Khimik Voskresensk in 2007-08.
Dmitri Kvartalnov looked like he could be an NHL star through the 90’s with a 30-goal rookie season. But he was unable to keep that success up in the NHL and, despite a long and successful professional hockey career elsewhere, he was a one-hit wonder in the NHL.
That is everyone I’ll cover in Part 3 of my NHL One-Hit Wonders series. Check back in here to see when Part 4 is up, or you can find us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter! Let us know there if you have any one-hit wonders we should write about.
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