The Journey: Midseason Breakout Candidates (Patrick, Jokiharju, Sprong)

Benjamin Gehrels

2022-02-05

Welcome back to The Journey, where we follow hockey prospects and their paths to the NHL, providing fantasy predictions and analysis along the way.

This week, we'll examine three players who are nearing their Breakout Threshold (BT). Here's part of Dobber's definition: "Average-sized forwards (between 5-10 and 6-2, or between 171 and 214 pounds) need 200 NHL regular season games to figure it out. At that point, they should show what they will be when fully developed." This isn't the same as peaking, more like the beginning of a player's prime production years. Players that are smaller or bigger than those height/weight guidelines tend to take twice as long, 400 games, to hit their BT. It's important to note that there's an 80/20 rule in terms of accuracy; that is, it's roughly 80% accurate, meaning it will fail to describe the trajectory of 20% of players. Still, this can be an incredibly useful metric to ballpark when a player will experience a jump in production.

The players highlighted here seem more destined to become depth pieces versus stars even if they hit their BT as expected. Other more well-known, higher-upside players to note that fall into this category include Roope Hintz (200 games), Quinn Hughes (174), Nick Suzuki (171), Dominik Kubalik (170), Adam Fox (169), Martin Necas (163), Victor Olofsson (152), Kaapo Kakko (151). Several of these names will be very difficult to acquire in fantasy at this point, but players like Kubalik, Necas, Olofsson, and Kakko still offer intriguing upside and could potentially be acquired at a discount.

Nolan Patrick (VGK)

Patrick should come extremely cheap in fantasy right now and might actually make a decent stash. Everyone knows his draft pedigree and relentless injury history, so most owners want nothing to do with him. Plus you're likely thinking that Jack Eichel will be returning soon and then where will Patrick be? While that's all true, he's still only 23 years old and he's only recently passed his BT, currently sitting at 213 games played. Given his injury history, Patrick will likely need more games than the average player to reach his upside, whatever that ends up being.

But he may be closer than many think.

Vegas has been giving Patrick the Jesperi Kotkaniemi treatment this year—lots of offensive zone starts against the lowest quality competition available—and it seems to be agreeing with him. That sheltering has meant he's played primarily alongside Vegas depth players like Keegan Kolesar, Evgenii Dadonov,