One thing that I try to stress in many of these lists is that for most players, it all comes down to opportunity.
Whether it's players with the potential to hit 70 points for the first time, waiver-wire pickups, bounce-back candidates, rookies that can surprise or whatever, players need that opportunity to be successful. It doesn't matter the size, the pedigree, the contract, the skill, the draft position or anything else. A player is in a better chance to succeed if he's playing in a top-six role rather than a bottom-six. It's not just limited to young players either. Look at Ilya Kovalchuk. In L.A., he was averaging 15:25 minutes per night and was a healthy scratch for 18 games before getting bought out. He goes to Montreal, averages 19:31 per night with power-play time, and has 12 points in 15 games.
Of course, having the opportunity doesn't automatically mean production. It just means there's a better chance of production. It can also be fleeting. When Aleksander Barkov missed three games with an injury last week, Denis Malgin was inserted into the lineup and although he averaged just 10 minutes a night, he was getting reps with Jonathan Huberdeau and Evgenii Dadonov. Malgin wasn't able to produce, and was back to a healthy scratch on Saturday with Barkov back in the lineup. For some of the players on this list, it's not a recent thing either. They've been with elite players all season, but haven't been able to produce. However, keep them in mind in case they go on a hot streak. After all, if they're staying in that top position while running cold, they probably won't be shifted down the lineup when running hot.
Below are 10 players who are getting an opportunity, so keep them on your radar in case they finally start a hot streak.
10. Sam Gagner
He's not on the power play, and he has only 11 points in 30 games, but keep an eye on Gagner as he's been getting the opportunity to play with Connor McDavid the last few games. Anyone getting a chance to play with McDavid has to be on your radar. In Gagner's last seven games, he has three goals with 17 shots and is a plus-