One of my favourite articles to write each year is to look at players who could potentially hit 70 points for the first time.
Usually, about a third of all players reaching 70 points are hitting that mark for the first time. With COVID-19 cutting last season short, there weren't as many 70-point players as usual. However, if you look at a 70-point pace (minimum 40 games) to account for the missed games, you can see there were plenty of new faces to hit that mark.
Last saw a variety of players reach the 70-point pace: The out-of-nowhere player who hits magic in a top-six role (Bryan Rust), the underappreciated veteran (Tomas Tatar), the defensemen we always knew could make it (Roman Josi), the "are you sure he hasn't done it before" (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins), the budding superstar (Andrei Svechnikov), the hot-shot rookie (Cale Makar) and the fourth-year breakout (Travis Konecny).
On top of those players, we also witnessed Kyle Connor, J.T. Miller, Anthony Mantha, William Nylander and Dougie Hamilton reach the 70-point pace for the first time.
We don't know how long this upcoming campaign will be, so instead of focusing on players who could hit 70 points, below are 10 players who could reach a 70-point pace for the first time. That's the equivalent of 0.85 points-per-game, or roughly 51 points in a 60-game season or 41 points in a 48-game season.
10. Neal Pionk
Pionk finished last season with 0.63 points-per-game, but that probably would have been higher if he had started the season on the top power play. At the start of 2019-20, the Jets were trying Josh Morrisey to quarterback the power-play. Before Nov. 27 (when Pionk firmly took control of the top PP duties), Pionk had 11 points in 24 games (0.45 points-per-game). After that date, he had 34 points in 47 games (0.72 points-per-game). This choice is more of a long-shot, but he doesn't have a lot of competition for that spot.
9. Pavel Buchnevich
Last year, I listed Travis Konecny as a long-shot to get 70 points. He had never reached 50 points and wasn't on the top power-play unit, so it was a bit of a stretch. However, sometimes the long-shots pay off. This is another long-shot pick, but there's a lot of boom/bust potential with the Rangers forward this year. He played quite frequently with Mika Zibanejad last year (and on the top line with