With the regular season behind us it’s a good time to look at our preseason predictions to see where we hit and where we missed. Last week we examined how several top-end rookies and breakout candidates fared against our prognostications. This week we’ll look at those we thought might rebound from a less-than-stellar 2015-16 as well as those for whom we predicted decline, and compare with their on-ice performances.
Top Western Conference Rebound Candidates (original article here)
Radim Vrbata, Arizona – RW
Back in Arizona Vrbata rebounded dramatically. With a 28-point increase accompanying his move south from Vancouver, the franchise great provided leadership for a maturing squad and hastened the development of rookie linemate Christian Dvorak. While Dylan Strome wasn’t quite ready, Vrbata’s presence with Max Domi, Tobias Rieder, and Brendan Perlini particularly on the power play, likely accentuated their production during another difficult year in the desert. The 15-year vet exceeded our 40-point expectations leading the Coyotes in goals (20), assists (35), and points (55) while finishing second to OEL with 15 power play points.
Nail Yakupov, St. Louis – RW
Unfortunately no for the 2012 NHL Draft’s first selection. We thought a potential spot on the McDavid line and an Oiler desire to foster elusive success by giving Yakupov consistent minutes might bring better production. Instead he was dealt in early October to the Blues for ECHL forward Zach Pochiro and a conditional 2017 third round pick. St. Louis brought injuries, scratches, and even further regression from his 23-point final Edmonton campaign with just nine points (3 G, 9 A) in 40 games and just 10:39 of ice time per game.
Mathieu Perreault, Winnipeg – C/LW
Perreault slightly increased scoring in 2016-17 as his 45 points in 65 games (0.69 per contest), bested the previous year’s 0.58. We predicted at least 40 points and a 0.65 per-game minimum. After November and January trips to injured reserve he was particularly productive as the campaign closed. The 29-year-old, eight-year vet went on a red-hot 11-game, 17-point (six goals, 11 assists) run in March/April including seven power play points while splitting even-strength time between the Laine – Little and Scheifele – Wheeler lines.
Eric Staal, Minnesota – C
It was a major rebound for Staal who obliterated his previous campaign&rsqu