Every NHL Team’s Most Likely Breakout Candidate
Every NHL Team's Most Likely Breakout Candidate
In just two weeks of the 2013-14 NHL season, there have already been plenty of surprise teams and breakout players. The Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames are off to better starts than expected, with young scoring talent helping lead the way. While many players that look ready for breakout seasons are first-or-second-year pros, some have put in years of work to get the opportunities that are now presented to them. Case in point: San Jose Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl made headlines with a four-goal effort in just his third NHL game, while fifth-year center Mike Santorelli (Vancouver Canucks) is off to the best start of his career with his fourth team.
Some players poised for a breakout year have a chance to do so with a new team, while others are in a prime position based on the line they play on or how much power play time they are seeing. Injuries have opened the door for some players to shine, and while it is very early in the season most of the players on this list have shown the potential to sustain their play over the course of a full season.
Time will tell if the players on this list can put up career-best numbers this season, but it isn’t hard to argue that each has been impressive in a small sample size in the early weeks of the season. Keep an eye on these 30 players, each of whom is poised for a breakout 2013-14 season.
Anaheim Ducks - Mathieu Perreault, C
Mathieu Perreault put up respectable numbers in four seasons with the Capitals, but a change of scenery should give him a chance to take things to the next level this season. Perreault is centering the Ducks' second line, and has five points in five games while playing alongside Teemu Selanne and Jakob Silfverberg.
Boston Bruins - Torey Krug, D
Torey Krug burst onto the scene for the Bruins with four goals in the playoff last season, and he'll be a big part of their quest to defend the Eastern Conference championship this season. Krug has a great shot from the point on the power play, and has already found the back of the net once this season. His ice time has increased with each game so far this season.
Buffalo Sabres - Mark Pysyk, D
Mark Pysyk got a chance to play 19 games for the Sabres last season, and chipped in a goal and five points. The Sabres look like they're in for another rough season, so Pysyk should continue to get a chance to play and try and carry over the offensive flair he has shown in juniors and the AHL to the NHL level.
Calgary Flames - Sean Monahan, C
Sean Monahan has been such a big contributor for the Flames in just five games that the team faces a very tough decision on whether they should keep him around or send him back to juniors. If Monahan stays, he could easily score 20 goals for a Flames team that could be a surprise playoff contender.
Carolina Hurricanes - Justin Faulk, D
Justin Faulk has bounced between the NHL and AHL for the past two seasons, but he looks ready to be a contributor for the Hurricanes every night moving forward. He has four assists through six games and is getting time on the top defense pairing and the second power play unit.
Chicago Blackhawks - Bryan Bickell, LW
Bryan Bickell was one of the heroes of the Blackhawks' 2013 Stanley Cup run, as he scored as many goals in 23 playoff games as he had in 48 regular season games. He'll have a chance to show that wasn't a fluke as he sees top-line time with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
Colorado Avalanche - Jamie McGinn, LW
The Avalanche are the early surprise of the 2013-14 season, and Jamie McGinn's three goals in five games have had a hand in the team's 5-0 start. McGinn should be in for a career year, especially if he can stay on a line with P.A. Parenteau and first overall draft pick Nathan MacKinnon.
Columbus Blue Jackets - Cam Atkinson, RW
Cam Atkinson has flashed offensive potential in the past two seasons with the Blue Jackets, and could finally deliver as a 20-goal scorer this season. He scored seven goals in 27 games two seasons ago, nine goals in 35 games last season and he has found the back of the net once in four games this season.
Dallas Stars - Alex Chiasson, RW
Alex Chiasson put up seven points in seven games with the Stars last season before being sidelined by an injury. He's already showing that was no fluke, as he has scored three goals and has five points in six games. The Stars made a lot of roster changes in hopes of returning to the playoffs this season, and Chiasson should break out while playing on the second line and on the first power play unit.
Detroit Red Wings - Dan DeKeyser, D
The Red Wings won the bidding war for Danny DeKeyser last season, and were impressed with what they saw in a handful of games. There's a good chance DeKeyser isn't going to put up huge offensive numbers anytime soon, but he is continuing to mature and earn big minutes in Detroit.
Edmonton Oilers - Mark Arcobello, LW
Mark Arcobello has established himself as a talented scorer and power play specialist in the AHL the past three seasons, and now he looks ready to carry that success on to the Oilers. Arcobello has five assists in five games while centering the second line and the second power play unit.
Florida Panthers - Aleksander Barkov, C
The Panthers thought highly enough of Aleksander Barkov to draft him second overall, so picking him as a breakout candidate isn't a huge stretch. The Panthers look doomed to face another subpar season, so Barkov will have every chance to shine - and the two goals he has through six games is a great start.
Los Angeles Kings - Ben Scrivens, G
Ben Scrivens posted a shutout in his first start for the Kings, a great start with his new team after an offseason trade. Playing behind Jonathan Quick likely won't lead to many starts, but if Quick struggles like he did last season Scrivens might get the same chance to shine that Jonathan Bernier had then.
Minnesota Wild - Mathew Dumba, D
The Wild chose not to play Mathew Dumba last season, but he has appeared in three games this season and recently scored his first career goal. He should stick around in Minnesota for at least another week or two, and with a solid performance he could avoid being sent back to the WHL, where he has little left to prove.
Montreal Canadiens - Lars Eller, C
Lars Eller continues to be a great fit with the Canadiens, and playing on a line with Brian Gionta and Max Pacioretty could make this the best season of his career. Eller already has five goals and seven points through five games.
Nashville Predators - Filip Forsberg, C
The Predators traded away Martin Erat and Michael Latta to the Capitals last season to get Filip Forsberg, and this season they'll get an early look at whether or not that trade was worth it. Forsberg has one goal in three appearances this season while playing on the second line for a Nashville team that is once again in desperate need of scoring.
New Jersey Devils - Damien Brunner, C
Damien Brunner showed true offensive talent with the Red Wings last season, but struggled to score consistently. This year he's on the second line for the Devils with Travis Zajac and Ryane Clowe, and should be able to improve on the 12 goals and 26 points he put up last season.
New York Islanders - Matt Donovan, D
Defenseman Matt Donovan may only be seven games into his NHL career, but he already looks like a player the Islanders are going to like having around. He has a goal and two points in four games this season, and his stat line in the AHL last season (14 goals, 48 points, 112 penalty minutes, plus-4) shows how well-rounded his game can be.
New York Rangers - Mats Zuccarello, RW
Mats Zuccarello has played 65 games for the Rangers over the past three seasons, but has only scored 11 goals. The Rangers are already struggling, and this may be Zuccarello's last chance to show he can be an offensive threat.
Ottawa Senators - Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C
The Senators got a brief look at Jean-Gabriel Pageau last season, and he scored two goals in nine games before scoring four more in 10 playoff games. He has scored once this season, and if he can continue to produce he should be sticking around in Ottawa for good.
Philadelphia Flyers - Matt Read, C
The Flyers have struggled early on in the 2013-14 season, and Matt Read has yet to register any points. He's still one of the team's best young weapons and could really help his team if he can show he is still the player that scored 24 goals during the 2011-12 season.
Phoenix Coyotes - Rob Klinkhammer, LW
Rob Klinkhammer toiled in the AHL for six seasons before getting the most NHL time of his career last season. Klinkhammer played 22 games for the Coyotes last season, scoring five goals and adding six assists. He has two goals through six games with Phoenix this season, and is currently getting top-line time with Shane Doan and Antoine Vermette.
Pittsburgh Penguins - Beau Bennett, RW
Beau Bennett was seeing time on the second line with Evgeni Malkin before being sidelined with a lower-body injury. He isn't expected to miss much time, and if he can stay on that line there's no reason he can't exceed the three goals and fourteen points he put up in 26 games last season.
St. Louis Blues - Jaden Schwartz, C
Jaden Schwartz scored seven goals as a rookie for the Blues last season, but there's still much more potential to be unleashed. Schwartz was a 2010 first round pick and an offensive star at Notre Dame, and playing on a line with fellow youngster Vladimir Tarasenko should help him to a noteworthy season.
San Jose Sharks - Tomas Hertl, C
There is little doubt that Tomas Hertl has been one of the standout players of the season so far. The 2012 first-rounder has seven goals through five games, and while it may be hard to keep that pace all season he should be a player to watch on a loaded Sharks team.
Tampa Bay Lightning - Alex Killorn, C
Alex Killorn netted seven goals in 38 games with the Lightning last season, and his two goals in five games so far this season makes him a great candidate for a breakout season. He's currently skating on the second line with offseason acquisition Valtteri Filppula and fellow youngster Richard Panik.
Toronto Maple Leafs - Jake Gardiner, D
Defenseman Jake Gardiner played 12 games for the Maple Leafs last season, and has hinted at great offensive potential over the past two seasons with the Maple Leafs. He will have a great chance for a career-best season on a Toronto team that should be headed back to the playoffs.
Vancouver Canucks - Mike Santorelli, C
If you can't have a breakout season while playing alongside the Sedin twins, it's probably never going to happen. Mike Santorelli is getting that chance right now, and has four goals in six games. It's been three years since he put up 41 points for the Panthers, and this could be his chance to shine and reach the playoffs for the first time in his career.
Washington Capitals - Tom Wilson, RW
The Capitals are off to a rough start, but still have a lot of young, talented offensive weapons. Tom Wilson, one of their top picks in 2012, has played five games this season and shown signs of promise. He has great size (6-4, 210) and isn't afraid to drop the gloves.
Winnipeg Jets - Jacob Trouba, D
Jacob Trouba, the Jets' first round draft pick in 2012, made an immediate impact with a goal and an assist on opening night. He has already seen his ice time increase to an average of 23 minutes per game, and looks capable of being a solid offensive defenseman in Winnipeg just like he was at the University of Michigan last season.