Top 10 potential fourth-season breakouts

Tom Collins



There’s a theory that goes around hockey circles that a player will see a significant increase in production in their fourth NHL season.

There’s some credence to that. Years ago, someone here at Dobber wrote that almost a quarter of forwards entering their fourth season saw their production increase by about 25 per cent.

Below are 10 players (including goaltenders and defensemen) who are entering their fourth season next year that could be due for a breakout. You may be able to pick up a few of these players for cheap if you’re a believer.

Just as a note, I’ve put the cut-off at 15 games to count towards a season.


10. Max Domi

After a tremendous rookie season where he posted 18 goals and 52 points, Domi has seen his drop like a stone. This past year, he notched only 45 points, and a 45-point player has no value except in the deep leagues. Domi needs to see an increase in overall ice time (he’s been under 17 minutes in all three seasons) but is still on the top power-play unit. He’s going to need help to have the fourth-year breakout season, but Clayton Keller, Dylan Strome and possibly Nick Merkley should be able to help with that.


9. Chris Wideman

Wideman played only 16 games this season, thanks to a hamstring injury that needed surgery. He was on his way to a breakout season before the injury with three goals and eight points in 16 games, despite his ice time down two minutes a game from the previous season. However, he did man the Sens power play when Erik Karlsson missed the first five games of the season. Even if Karlsson stays with the Sens, Wideman should have a regular top-four role.


8. Darnell Nurse

There’s a belief that players in a contract year will have seasons that defy logic (just look at Loui Eriksson a few years back) and will parlay that one season into a huge contract. Nurse fits into this category. Nurse had a career-high 26 points and 194 shots this year and saw some time as the team’s top power-play quarterback when everyone else was struggling. He told the Edmonton Sun last week that “I want to grow my offensive side. I can take that to another level. I believe I should be a two-way threat, night-in, night-out.”


7. Zach Hyman

While there are plenty of fans who believe Mitchell Marner should be paired with Auston Matthews, let’s not overlook what Hyman has been able to accomplish. Hyman was on the ice for 85 per cent of Matthew’s ice time this year. Why would we expect that to chan