Frozen Tool Forensics: Fourth-year breakouts
Anyone who has followed Dobber Hockey for any length of time likely know about the fourth-year breakout. The fourth year is a mythical time when a high proportion of NHL players seem to reach new scoring heights. This week we are going to take a look at some of 2019-20's third year players and try and highlight some pluses/minuses for their chances of further breakouts.
This week: 2020-21 Breakout Candidates Part One
As always Frozen Tools has a report that is incredibly helpful for our analysis. In fact, it has two. The first is titled 4th Year Breakout and that lets us take a look at every player currently in their fourth year. That report, once exported, looks something like this (there are a couple of additional columns, but I removed them for fit):
There are clearly some big names on this list, ones that have been big name stars for several years, but guys like Travis Konecny, Jakub Vrana, and Pavel Buchnevich are certainly new additions. Anyone who was able to grab them in the draft, or during free agency certainly reaped rewards during various portions of the season.
The above is sorted by total points, but if we make a quick addition and sort by points per game, the top 15 it looks like this:
One thing to point out here is time on ice. Only one player in the top ten is playing fewer than 17 minutes a night and five are above 20 minutes. Similarly, no one in the top ten is playing less than 50 percent of his team's power-play time. And most are playing more than 65 percent. One additional note here, all of the top 10 have a points-per 60 rate over 2.5.
So let's turn to the next report. This one is titled Next Year, and as the title suggests it pulls players who could be a fourth-year breakout next season. In reality it pulls third year players and we can do a little juggling to see what it tells us. Once we run the report (and export) here are the top 15 sorted by total points from 2019-20.
This year lacks some of the superstar names of the year ahead of it, but there is definitely some potential here. Guys like Pierre-Luc Dubouis and Alex DeBrincat are likely known in your league, but who could stand to gain the most next year? What our current fourth-year breakouts above tell us is that the guys who are going to break out in their fourth year are going to get solid deployment, but also are likely going to be showing some ability to produce in the time they currently have.
If we eliminate the defensemen and do a quick sort by time on ice, we see that no player is currently getting more than 18.5 minutes a night of ice time, and most are seeing less than 50% of their team's power-play time. That means that no player is currently getting the deployment we would expect of a breakout performer. That is good news as there are very few current breakouts on this list. It also means that there is a fair amount of improvement available for players to increase their deployment.
One key factor to consider is what are these players currently doing with the time they do have. We would like to see players who are already putting up reasonable point-per-60 metrics given their current deployment.
This above table shows point-per-60 numbers as well as time on ice and power-play percentages. Players who are putting up higher point-per 60 numbers, but still have room to grow in total time on ice, or power-play deployment are certainly intriguing. Most of the top five fit that category. All except Dubois are below either 17 minutes a night, or 50 percent of the power-play (or both). Unfortunately Dubois and Debrincat stand out on this list as players who are getting the best deployment (high time on ice and high power-play percentage), but don't have point-per 60 numbers over 2.5 (which all of the current fourth year breakout players have). Dubois' 59-point pace on the season is certainly a nice boost for him, particularly without Artemi Panarin on his wing, but so far he stands out as the biggest 'breakout' in his class.
The big question for these players, and particularly those at the top of this chart is, will they get the opportunity to shine for their respective clubs in 2020-21.That is the question we are going to tackle next week. We will take a look at some of the top players on our list and examine their spot in the depth chart to see what chance they have to take on a more significant role for their team.
That is all for this week. Thanks for reading.
Stay safe out there.
Want more tool talk? Check out these recent Frozen Tool Forensics posts:
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