Ramblings: 2018-19 Breakout Candidates (Mar 22)

by steve laidlaw on March 21, 2018

 

Around this time last year, I looked at some breakout candidates for the 2017-18 season. Specifically, I looked for players who failed to reach 55 points who stood a good chance of clearing 65 the following year. This is something we’ll do again, but first let’s look at how last year’s breakout candidates have faired:

 

2016-17

2017-18

Injured Superstar

       
 

GP

Points

GP

Points

Kris Letang

41

34

70

44

Taylor Hall

72

53

68

78

Jonathan Huberdeau

31

26

71

64

Aleksander Barkov

61

52

70

73

Alex Galchenyuk

61

44

73

44

Tyler Toffoli

63

34

74

42

         

The Renaissance

       
 

GP

Points

GP

Points

Anze Kopitar

76

52

74

82

Patrice Bergeron

78

53

55

54

         

The Classic

       
 

GP

Points

GP

Points

Conor Sheary

61

53

70

25

Jake Guentzel

40

33

73

41

Andre Burakovsky

64

35

47

19

Matthew Tkachuk

76

48

68

49

Max Domi

59

38

72

35

Anthony Mantha

60

36

71

42

Jonathan Drouin

73

53

68

37

Sam Reinhart

80

47

72

42

Bo Horvat

81

52

55

38

Mikko Rantanen

75

38

72

79

Sebastian Aho

82

49

69

59

Robby Fabbri

51

29

0

0

Dylan Larkin

79

31

73

53

Christian Dvorak

78

33

72

35

Nick Schmaltz

61

28

70

48

Brayden Point

68

40

73

58

         

Post-Hype Sleeper

       
 

GP

Points

GP

Points

Brandon Saad

82

53

74

31

Nathan MacKinnon

82

53

65

91

Elias Lindholm

72

45

72

39

Gustav Nyquist

75

46

73

34

Chris Kreider

75

53

49

33

Jakob Silfverberg

79

49

68

34

 

Throw enough shit at the wall and something’s bound to stick, am I right? Still, this is a pretty good success rate for a list made in March of last year, well before the draft, free agency, coaching moves and training camp have provided added information. In particular, the injured superstar and renaissance sections provided a bounty of good options. If you bagged Kopitar, Barkov, Hall and Huberdeau there’s a good chance you’re dominating your league.

On Tuesday I looked at a bunch of guys who fit the injured superstar or renaissance tropes, although I wouldn’t necessarily bet on a good chunk of those getting to the 65-point plateau. You could also add Auston Matthews, Jeff Carter, Alexander Wennberg, Kyle Palmieri, and Mika Zibanejad to the injured list.

With those two lists sections well pegged, let’s run down our other two tropes:

The Classic Breakout

This is the archetype with the most potential because players typically peak early. Everyone should be looking for players in years 3-5 around ages 20-23 who might pop up in a bigger role next season. One of the best indicators of future success is 5-on-5 scoring rate. Several names jump out with over 2.0 P/60 at 5-on-5 as youngsters including:

 

GP

Points

P/60

Nico Hischier

73

46

2.56

Jake DeBrusk

64

39

2.38

Vinnie Hinostroza

42

24

2.34

Ondrej Kase

57

33

2.3

Travis Konecny

73

42

2.26

Kyle Connor

67

46

2.19

Danton Heinen

66

42

2.13

Adrian Kempe

73

35

2.1

Ryan Hartman

68

31

2.07

Kevin Fiala

70

45

2.04

Tyler Bertuzzi

39

18

2.03

Alex DeBrincat

74

45

2.02

Sonny Milano

47

18

2

 

Off that list I’d rank them:

Hischier

Fiala

Konecny

Connor

DeBrincat

Everyone else on that list probably needs more time for a bigger role to emerge. These five have grabbed large roles and could explode with even more usage.

Hischier has been helped by Taylor Hall’s MVP run, and may not be quite as fortunate if Hall takes a step backwards. On the other hand, Hall has also been helped by Hischier. This is a duo that should stick for the foreseeable future. Get Hischier some top power play unit time and he’ll bust out.

There probably aren’t any more minutes for Fiala to grab on a loaded Preds roster. He’s just so damned good that he can’t be left off.

Konecny took off after getting promoted to the Flyers’ top line. Can he carry that over in a full season there? What if Giroux regresses again? Still without top PP time there’s another level for Konecny to hit, although the path to more PP time is blocked.

Connor is entrenched on Winnipeg’s top line and top PP unit. There’s so much young talent in Winnipeg that he could conceivably be phased out. On the other hand, he should improve with each passing year.

DeBrincat probably has the clearest path to a breakout. What he accomplished without much PP or Patrick Kane exposure is truly remarkable. It seems inevitable that DeBrincat will fill the void left by Artemi Panarin as a dynamic goal-scoring righty across from Kane.

Other players who didn’t hit the 2.00 P/60 mark who I like nonetheless:

 

GP

Points

P/60

Pavel Buchnevich

65

42

1.99

Andreas Athanasiou

62

31

1.99

Nick Schmaltz

70

48

1.98

Oliver Bjorkstrand

74

37

1.79

Timo Meier

72

31

1.7

Jesse Puljujarvi

56

20

1.47

Nolan Patrick

65

24

1.4

Pierre-Luc Dubois

74

37

1.31

 

This time last year I wasn’t big on Schmaltz. I am now. He’s already locked in as Kane’s centerman. Give him another year of growth and let’s see what he can do.

I don’t like that the Rangers are removing talent, but there are some indications that they aren’t intent on being bad for long. They could make splashes in free agency this summer that vault them back into contention. You could also argue that the less available options for Alain Vigneault to block Buchnevich with the better. Buchnevich seems destined for stardom. He’s as good a bet as there is for a breakout. It’s a matter of when, not if.

The rest of these guys might be a couple of years away but have flashed intriguing upside.

The Post-Hype Sleeper

 

GP

Points

P/60

Ryan Spooner

50

38

2.85

Nick Bjugstad

71

45

2.51

Charlie Coyle

57

35

1.94

Anthony Mantha

71

42

1.81

Matthew Tkachuk

68

49

1.73

Bo Horvat

55

38

1.83

Sam Reinhart

72

42

1.36

 

With how much information there is out there these days, basically anyone who appeared on last year’s breakout list but failed to breakout becomes a post-hype sleeper. Is there a MacKinnon on this list? Unlikely, but I really like what Tkachuk and Horvat have to offer.

Tkachuk appeared on the verge of busting out this year until injuries caught up to him. It’s also worth noting how much the shooting percentages worked against the 3M line this season. With better 5-on-5 results Tkachuk could have been near a point-per-game pace. He proved himself the best net-front option on the Flames, which opens up big potential alongside Johnny Gaudreau.

Horvat and Brock Boeser lit the world on fire for a few weeks early on before injuries derailed both of them. Let’s see what they can do in 82 games alongside one another. I’d bet on both eclipsing 65 points.

Who do you think might go from sub-55 to plus-65 next season?

*

Watch out for a suspension to Brayden Schenn after this hit to the head on David Krejci:

 

Amazingly, Krejci finished the game, but you never know with head injuries. The Bruins can’t afford to have any more players get banged up.

Ryan Donato scored again. That’s four points in two games for the rookie. Hot start and in top-six minutes. He could prove very useful these next few weeks.

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Sidney Crosby, ladies and gentlemen:

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Dylan Strome was recalled yesterday and not one of the fake recalls he has experienced in the past month. He got into the lineup for 12:18, including secondary PP time, and scored his second career goal. It’s been awfully slow getting his NHL career going but he has destroyed the AHL.

I’m more interested in the top line options for Arizona, however. Derek Stepan has 10 points in the last 10 games. Clayton Keller has 19 points in the last 20 games! Brendan Perlini has been in the mix with those two but hasn’t been productive. Richard Panik has been up on that line and has points in three straight.

*

Due to concerns over concussions Mark Borowiecki is going to start turning down fights. Smart choice. The league has swung away from the use of enforcers and fighting in general, but there are still a few reliable scrappers. Scratch Borowiecki off that list. For those in multi-category leagues, this will hurt Borowiecki’s value. Although he is still liable to take a bunch of minor penalties, as well as piling up massive hit totals.

*

While we’re on concussions, there are some interesting results from a study on the careers of players after suffering concussions:

Navarro said players who had publicly reported concussions were compared to players who didn’t. The players with concussions had a 14.6 per cent chance of playing in the NHL five years after the injury. Players who didn’t have reported concussions had a 43.7 per cent chance of being in the NHL five years later.

That’s alarming but doesn’t necessarily mean that having a concussion leaves a player marked for failure. Fantasy relevant players are going to earn more chances to rediscover their play by virtue of having previously put up large point totals. It also helps that those point totals tend to lead to long-term contracts that buy financial security and a guaranteed roster spot. However, even in the case of players on long-term deals there is the fear of long-term injury reserve as has befallen players like Marc Savard.

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If you haven’t yet, please check out Cam Robinson’s latest Top 100 Draft Prospects rankings.

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Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.

 

  • MarkRM16

    Suspend Schenn for the rest of the RS and playoffs if the Blues make it. He targeted Krejci’s head AND left his skates! I wish Chara was there to toss him around. I’m generally not a fan of vigilante justice, but if the refs and the League don’t come down hard on these guys, getting roughed up is the only way to get the message across. I certainly can’t recall Gretzky taking abuse like this with Semenko on the ice.

    • skoots7

      So you are suggesting a 10-14+ suspension for that hit? It probably should have been a major, maybe 2 games at worst because contact was in the head but he did not leave his feet until after contact. Not that it justifies the hit, but Krejci did have his head down.

      • MarkRM16

        He launches himself into Krejci, leaving his feet. It’s obvious in the clip. After the collision Schenn is airborne and lands on his right skate close to the boards.
        The NHL needs to introduce a rule that doesn’t excuse hits to the head even if the player being hit does have their head down. I know that players are taught to keep their heads up, watching for incoming hits all the time, but with the speed of the game having increased so much over the last decade or so plus nearly every player weighing 200-220 pounds, that’s like being hit by a car.
        The number of players going down with concussions is getting out of control – there are 2 or 3 diagnosed every day, often with stars and upper-tier forwards and defencemen among the victims. Even if the League didn’t care about player’s health, which one could argue, how does it make good business sense to put stars at unnecessary risk every night? That hurts the entertainment value a great deal. Imagine what would happen if McDavid, Eichel, or Laine suffered a serious concussion that forced them to retire in their early 20’s? That would not only badly hurt their teams, but rob the NHL of some of its elite, marketable players and be a PR nightmare.

        The diagnoses of head injuries and their long-term health effects are getting better by the year, making players realize what can happen to them both when they’re playing and in retirement. That’s why many parents aren’t letting their kids play hockey or football anymore, because they’re worried that concussions in their youth risk their ability to live normal, disability-free lives.

        I have no desire to see it happen, but I have to wonder how long it will be before a player is killed on the ice after a hit to the head or shortly thereafter. Perhaps then things will finally change.

  • Stephen Lidbetter

    I’m thinking no, but does anyone know if Yahoo’s gonna count that last makeup game with Boston/Florida on 4/8 or does it miss the finals of Yahoo cut-off?

    • Cal Growette

      The Yahoo playoffs end on Saturday 4/7…