Top 10 breakout players…that haven’t

by Tom Collins on January 25, 2016

Top 10 breakout players that haven't



One of my favourite types of preseason fantasy guide articles and forum threads are the ones that have anything to do with breakout players. We all have our sleepers that we expect to break through with a great season. It is part of human nature to believe the best and that players will succeed more than rationale should expect.

Sometimes we get it right. Kudos to anyone who had Artemi Panarin or Evgeny Kuznetsov down as a having a breakthrough season. But much more often we miss the boat. And it stings a lot when we do, especially if we've invested time into a player.

Here are the top 10 players many of us expected to break out this year but haven't.


10. Dmitrij Jaskin

Jaskin had four points in five preseason games, leading to many of us expecting a half-decent season out of the Blues forward. We thought he had a good shot at playing with captain David Backes and filling the void left when T.J. Oshie was traded. Even with injuries to top-six players such as Paul Stastny and Jori Lehtera during the season, Jaskin's ice time is declining with each passing month. In 45 regular season games, he has 10 points.


9. Anton Lander

Many were high on Lander before the season began. Connor McDavid was the wonder kid and would somehow make everyone on the Oilers score more. Lander led the NHL in preseason goals with five after a promising 2014-15 season of 20 points in 38 games. While no one was expecting 60 points, 40 points was easily within shot. Instead Lander has floundered with just two assists in 48 games.


8. Mikhail Grigorenko

Things were supposed to be better for the 21-year-old Russian after getting out of Buffalo. He was re-uniting with Patrick Roy, who coached Grigorenko in juniors. He was also going to a team with much better offensive capabilities than there was in Buffalo. Some poolies were anticipating a rebound season for Grigorenko but it just has not materialized as he has just three goals and 13 points in 43 games.


7. Adam Larsson

This was supposed to be the year for Larsson. He signed a new contract in the summer that pays him $25 million over the next six  years. He had a fresh slate because of the hiring of a new coach. No one was expecting the moon, but many projected 30 to 40 points. Instead Larsson is on pace for 21. Of course, it's hard for a defenseman to be fantasy relevant when he averages 12 seconds per game on the power play.


6. Anton Slepyshev

The sky appeared to be the limit for the Russian rookie. He seemed to have great chemistry with McDavid in the preseason and made the Oilers squad out of training camp. But Slepyshev struggled mightily once the regular season began and quickly fell down the depth chart. After 11 games with just one point and dwindling ice time — he played less than 10 minutes in eight games — he was sent to the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL, where he has five points in 20 games.


5. Sergei Plotnikov

Remember this guy? He came over to the NHL with a lot of fanfare after a few years in the KHL and was expected to play on a regular line with Evgeni Malkin. Plotnikov was never was able to adapt to the NHL for whatever reason. He's been a healthy scratch numerous times and has just two assists in 30 games. And instead of Malkin, he gets to play with Eric Fehr, Matt Cullen and Kevin Porter when he is in the lineup.


4. Jakob Silfverberg

I have to admit I was one of the people easily fooled by Silverberg's playoff run last year. Playing on the second line with Ryan Kesler, Silf managed to finish 10th in playoff points — scoring 18 in 16 games — despite not playing in the Final. This year he has 15 points in 46 games. At 25 years old, it may be too late for poolies to ever expect a breakthrough season from him though he’s giving it his best shot with nine points in his last seven games.


3. Valeri Nichushkin

Nichushkin is going to be one of those guys who is predicted by poolies to breakout every season until it finally happens or until everyone starts saying they always knew he was a bum. Sort of like Justin Schultz right now. Yes he's only 20 years old, so there's still lots of time, but he's on pace for 27 points. To be fair, Nich hasn't had much top-six opportunity in Dallas as head coach Lindy Ruff likes to juggle lines more than any coach in the league.


2. Ryan Strome

Strome proves the dangers of selecting guys based on who they might be playing with. In fact, most guys on this list fall into this category. There was a lot of preseason talk about Strome regularly playing with John Tavares. That hasn't happened as frequently as we would like. He does get some ice time with Tavares, but just as much as with Mikhail Grabovski. He's on pace for 34 points, which would be 16 below last year's total.  


1. Jonathan Drouin

How much did poolies like Drouin at the start of the season? Check out this forum post by Tobias. He was asking if he should trade his Drouin and Cory Schneider for Braden Holtby and Panarin. Only two of the eight replies recommended the trade, mainly because everyone thought Drouin was due for a breakout. We all know what happened. Drouin never played great in the NHL and was sent to the minors. He's currently not playing in the AHL, and there's going to be a lot of poolies who will never trust him again.