Frozen Tools Forensics: Looking for fourth-year breakouts
Is it too early in the season to look at the top ten candidates for fourth-year breakouts? Probably, but we will do it anyway. When I say breakouts, it’s not about players like Mitch Marner, Matthew Tkachuk or Sebastian Aho who have already had stellar seasons and should duplicate or slightly improve upon them. We are focusing on players in their fourth year who might improve by 10 or more points from their previous career high.
Below are the top point-getters this season up to October 10th, 2019, for fourth-year players from the Frozen Tools Report Generator:
Here are the top-9 breakout candidates:
#9 – Jakub Vrana
Vrana appears to have settled on Washington’s second line and as such is playing almost two more minutes per game more than he has before. He will still be on the PP2 unless someone gets injured above him, but with Andre Burakovsky moved to Colorado in the off-season, there is a little less competition for the second-line wing position. I will give him a 50/50 chance to break out this season and attain over 57 points, eclipsing his career high of 47 points from last year.
#8 – Adrian Kempe
Kempe has been given the opportunity to center the second line on the Kings to start this season as well as taking an expanded role on the PP. His TOI has increased to 16:16 from 14:30 last season, and he will be given every chance to succeed as there doesn’t appear to be anyone on the Kings breathing down his neck. I think he could get to 20 goals and 30 assists over a full season.
#7 – Ondrej Kase
Kase is returning from a bad concussion he sustained in January of last season. He is a shot machine, averaging between 2.5 and 3 shots/game over his past two injury-riddled seasons. If Kase can stay healthy, he should be able to score 25-30 goals with similar assist totals to get above 50 points this year. The only concerns (other than his health) are his lack of PP1 time (but he could be there sooner than later) and who his line mates will be. Currently he seems to be with Ryan Getzlaf almost 75 percent of the time and that can only be a good thing for him.
#6 – Patrik Laine
Laine has seven assists after four games this season. He didn’t get his seventh assist last year until game #33 on December 16th. This bodes well for Laine, as he appears to be healthy and his shot totals are still upwards of almost three/game, so the goals will still come (he has three in four games). I wrote an article on Laine last February, questioning his future production and his play away from the puck. At the time, I said that in order to elevate his overall play he might have to sacrifice five to ten goals each year and become a 40-goal and 40-assist player rather than a 50-goal and 30-assist player, and he is moving in that direction. His IPP is 90.9 after five games and will most assuredly come down, but it’s definitely a good thing and could propel him to 80 points or more.
#5 – Anthony Beauvillier
His previous career highs are 21 goals and 36 points. He has had a very good start to this season with four points in his first three games. A few noticeable changes are that his TOI has increased by almost a minute per game to 15:36 and it appears he is now on the PP1. I think a conservative campaign for Beauvillier is 25-28 goals and 20-23 assists.
#4 – Travis Konecny
Konecny has had 47 and 49 points over the past two seasons and will need about 60 points for it to be a breakout season. I think he will get there, but not without challenges. He is still on the PP2 and is carrying the offense after two games for the Flyers. Carrying the Flyers’ offense will not continue for the whole season but there is a chance he will get more time on the PP if his production continues. I think he will finish with 28-32 goals and/or assists for a 55-65 point year.
#3 – Brock Boeser
Boeser has had injuries in his last two seasons, missing 20 games in 2017-2018 and then 13 last year. He will only break out if he remains healthy and plays 75 games or more. His passing has improved, both at even strength and on the PP, and as long as he shoots around 3 shots/game he stands to increase his point total. He’s technically a fourth-year breakout (he only played nine games in first year) but he should be able to attain 35 goals and 40 assists on an improved PP with the Canucks.
#2 – Tyler Bertuzzi
Bertuzzi had a bit of a breakout last season with 21 goals and 47 points in 73 games, including 25 points in his last 31 games of the year (a 66-point pace). He’s had a great start to the season, playing on the top line with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha, with six points in four games. He is probably not going to keep up his 123-point pace, but could finish with 25 goals and 35 assists and exceed 60 points.
#1 – Pavel Buchnevich
There is a lot of excitement surrounding Buchnevich as he is currently playing on the top line and PP1, and after two games he is doing quite well with two points. His TOI has increased to 17:27 and he has been on the PP for 69.1 percent of the time. His previous career highs are 21 goals and 43 points, which he should destroy if healthy (he did miss 18 games last year and nine the year before). I would pencil him in for 22-25 goals and 35-45 assists.
A few other players who were considered for this list are Mikhail Sergachev (he already had a 40-point season), Ivan Provorov (he had a 17-goal and 41-point season), Artturi Lehkonen and Blake Coleman.
Every player listed will need to play at least 75 games to shatter their career highs, but these players should be capable of doing so.
If you have any comments or suggestions, please let me know below and/or follow me on Twitter @gampbler15.
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