Western Conference Breakouts (2015)

Doran Libin


Libin lists his expected breakout players from the Western Conference for the 2015-16 NHL season…


Picking a breakout player before the season can have a tremendously positive effect on a team’s fantasy season. First, getting a player before they break out allows one to acquire said player for a cheaper price and derive value from the acquisition. That value could be based on a much lower draft position or a significantly lower cost of acquisition via trade. The trick is identifying the players that not only look like they are ready t break out, but actually will. The following are four players who fit the first criteria, being ready to break out, barring possession of a crystal ball the second part you will have to wait for.  




Nail Yakupov – Forward, Edmonton


Yakupov has seemed like a bit of bust since putting up 31 points in 48 games in his rookie season. In the two years since he has struggled to match his total production from that season over 80 games, never mind in the 48 games of the lockout season. There are numerical reasons to like Yakupov this season but the big reason is a sneaking suspicion that he will lineup alongside Taylor Hall and Connor McDavid on the Oilers’ first line. As much as Yakupov appeared to find chemistry last year with Derek Roy this is a massive upgrade in the level of talent with which Yakupov will be skating. Better linemates make it significantly easier to put up higher point totals and with Yakupov having turned his game around last year this is the perfect time for him to slot in alongside high end linemates.


There are a number of ways that playing with McDavid and Hall will help Yakupov. First, last season Yakupov had an on-ice shooting percentage of 7.7% and similarly a low PDO of 96.9. Playing with better talent should raise Yakupov’s on-ice shooting percentage as better players score on more of their shots. For example, before last year’s abnormally low shooting percentage Hall could be counted on to score on 10% of his shots. Secondly, Yakupov has been trending in the right direction in terms of his shooting as he took close to 2.5 shots per game. As McDavid figures to be at worst a high-end distrib