Frozen Pool Forensics: Potential Breakout Players

Chris Liggio

2018-06-15

 

Though I am not going to say I will make a call like prior Frozen Pool Forensics writer Cam Robinson on a breakout season for Nathan Mackinnon, it’s time to bring some youth-oriented names to the table that seem like they’re ready to bust out in 2018-19. A couple of the following really stood out more in the postseason to me, playing important minutes for their respective squads that speak to their abilities. An array of different styles of play from each one, let’s look at some names you should consider a late round gamble on next year.

 

Jakub Vrana

Arguably the most important reason the Capitals finally got over the hurdle is because of the play of their dynamic second line of Nicklas Backstrom, TJ Oshie, and young speedster Jakub Vrana. Though he doesn’t have the points to show for it like the other two, Vrana was incredibly effective in this plum spot. From game five of their series with Pittsburgh where he was elevated to the top line, to his opening goal of the championship clinching fifth match against Las Vegas, Vrana became more noticeable with each passing contest. Putting Vrana here isn’t about points per se but more so intuition. Going from 21 games and 6 points in 2016-17, to 27 points in 73 played with 100 more shots speaks to improvement and the ability to be an everyday NHL player. His confidence ballooned immensely after Washington finally conquered the Penguins, looking comfortable in the top six with two world class players. Backstrom’s brilliance, Oshie’s skill, and Vrana’s speed made it very difficult on defensive assignments. If Vrana finds himself with these two again from the start in 2018-19, expect career goals and assists for the young Czech.

 

Alex Tuch

Though Braden Holtby shall haunt his dreams for the rest of his days, Tuch should be excited about his future in the NHL and you should too for fantasy purposes. Like Vrana, his postseason numbers aren’t substantial, though respectable with six goals and four assists in twenty games played. Seeing a majority of his time with goal scorers Erik Haula and James Neal, Tuch had a quietly solid rookie campaign with 37 points (15G, 22A) in 78 games played. Most impressive is his endurance as he played in over ninety contests, continuing to chug along as the postseason progressed. Young and gifted with an imposing physical body at a young age, the New York native has the makings of an impact power forward in the league if he continues to progress. In 98 total contests between the regular season and playoffs, Tuch posted 21G, 26A, 215 SOG, and 142 hits while averaging 15 to 16 minutes per game. This is the beginning of a possible ascent making him a smart pick late in drafts banking on increased totals. With Tuch’s stature, he bodes well to avoid