The NHL season is slowing gaining hype and momentum as preseason hits full swing and there is no better time to discuss possible breakout candidates for the upcoming campaign. Last season saw the rise of Damien Brunner, Nazem Kadri, Francois Beauchemin, Sergei Bobrovsky and many other improbable breakout candidates prior to the start of the season. When making my list of possible breakout candidates for the 2013-14 NHL season, I took many things into consideration. I looked at potential, linemates, changes, and team chemistry. I didn’t just look at the usual breakout candidates, because usually the players with the least pressure perform to expectations.
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
There may have been some negative reasons why he left the Boston Bruins, but Seguin will have a fresh start with the new-look Dallas Stars. The Bruins were not the type of team for Seguin, but maybe Dallas will give the former second overall pick all the pieces in place for him to succeed and be a top line NHL scoring threat. On top of that, he will be surrounded by veterans Ray Whitney, Shawn Horcoff, and coach Lindy Ruff, who should help him mature.
Michael Frolik, Winnipeg Jets
The former stud prospect was a big disappointment with the Chicago Blackhawks the past couple seasons mainly because he was forced to play more physically than he was expected before. Maybe Claude Noel and the Jets will put his development back on track and thrust him into a top-six role. He may even have first-line potential.
Danny DeKeyser, Detroit Red Wings
DeKeyser played great in the playoffs and in 11 regular season games last year for Detroit. He surprised almost everyone by playing like he was a veteran defenceman. However, next season will only be his rookie season and he will likely continue his success and lead a young influx of Detroit prospects on the team this upcoming season.
Viktor Stalberg, Nashville Predators
The Chicago Blackhawks gave Stalberg many oppurtunities and good experience while playing him in a top-9 forard role. He showed flashes of high-end talent in some games with the Hawks and Leafs throughout his career. But now the 27-year-old is looking to lead a weak Nashville offence. He may be a leader on it and put up great stats.
Kyle Okposo, New York Islanders
He was finally healthy last season, but only put up a so-so campaign. However, he may finally reach his full potential in a full season on a line with John Tavares, who makes the players around him better.
Mikhail Grabovski, Washington Capitals
He was not a Randy Carlyle-type player, but that does not mean he cannot be good on another team. Washington is the perfect place for the buyout victim because he can easily just take over Mike Ribeiro‘s former spot as the number 2 centre and powerplay specialist. Will he put up Mike Ribeiro numbers? Capitals fans hope so.
Paul Ranger, Toronto Maple Leafs
Three years after leaving the NHL, Ranger is now competing for a spot on the always-crowded Maple Leafs blueline. Odds are that he will land a spot, but whether he can return to top-4 form is yet to be seen.
Honourable Mentions: Chad Johnson, BOS; Ville Leino, BUF; Mikhail Grigorenko, BUF; Valeri Nichuskin, DAL; Brendan Smith, DET; Nail Yakupov, EDM; Sasha Barkov, FLA; Mikael Granlund, MIN; Filip Forsberg, NSH; Seth Jones, NSH; Rostislav Olesz, NJ; P-M Bouchard, NYI; Ryan McDonagh, NYR; Clarke MacArthur, OTT; Mikkel Boedker, PHX; Derek Roy, STL; Brent Burns, SJ; Victor Hedman, TB; David Clarkson, TOR; James van Riemsdyk, TOR;
Topics: Brent Burns, Chad Johnson, Clarke MacArthur, Danny Dekeyser, David Clarkson, Derek Roy, Filip Forsberg, Kyle Okposo, Michael Frolik, Mikhail Grabovski, Mikhail Grigorenko, Mikkel Boedker, Paul Ranger, Ryan Mcdonagh, Tyler Seguin, Victor Hedman, Viktor Stalberg, Ville Leino