Now that our annual fantasy hockey seasons have come to a collective end, I thought this week would be a great time for some reflection. Every year is guaranteed to have its fair share of both breakthrough stars and underachievers alike. A lot of times a player's performance is heavily influenced by their team environment and how much chemistry they can form with their linemates. There's a ton of factors that can move the needle on a player one way or the other. Let's check out some players who have stood out this season, for better or worse!
Kirill Kaprizov (LW- MIN)
So right off the bat I'm getting a little weird with things by highlighting a rookie. When trying to come up with "breakthrough players", you don't usually think of a first-year player, but in this case, I think Kaprizov fits the bill perfectly. Coming over from the KHL, Kaprizov entered the year with a decent amount of hype. However, playing on a Wild roster that hasn't exactly been known for its offensive production in recent memory kind of tampered my expectations for the Russian rookie. There's been a ton of KHL players who decided to take their talents to North America in years past, and sometimes the transition is not always a smooth one.
In 55 contests this season, Kaprizov potted 27 goals and added 24 assists for a total of 51 points. Safe to say the transition wasn't a problem as he was on pace for a 76-point campaign had we had a full 82 game season. Kaprizov has managed to develop great chemistry with his linemates Victor Rask and Mats Zuccarello. Another thing for fantasy owners will love is his power play deployment, which saw him play an impressive 61.8% on the man advantage. He averaged just a hair under three shots per game which is right where you hope to see your fantasy forwards at. While not a traditional rookie in the sense of age, Kaprizov is still only 24 and right in the prime of his career. There's still room for growth with this player, so be excited as a fantasy owner because the sky’s the limit for Kirill the Thrill!
Chris Driedger (G- FLA)
This is another odd pick, but like Kaprizov, I think is also warranted. Chris Driedger got his big break last season making 12 starts for the Panthers and posting an impressive 7-2-1 record with a sparkling 2.05 GAA and a save percentage of .938. In his limited time with the team, he clearly made a good impression. Fast-forward back to this season and Dri