Fantasy Hockey Scouts: Blogger's Breakouts - Central

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Over the next several weeks we'll be asking the experts from each NHL team who they think their teams two biggest fantasy breakout's will be for the upcoming season.  These bloggers know their teams backwards and forwards so their picks will definitely be names for you to remember for draft day... and for tons more on breakout players check back in August for the release of our Breakout Bible.

Make sure you pay a visit to their sites (click the banners)...they are all FHS approved.

This week we'll be looking at the five teams in the Central...come back next week for the Atlantic....

NORTHEAST  |  CENTRAL  |  ATLANTIC  |  NORTHWEST  |  SOUTHEAST  |  PACIFIC

 

TFF - Hawks

Written by The Fifth Feather

Troy Brouwer

Brouwer Drafted well into the 7th round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, some would say that by playing in 69 regular season and 17 playoff games during the 2008-09 season, Troy Brouwer has already paid great comparative dividends to the Blackhawks.  But, for a player who scored almost 50 goals and over 100 points in his final season in the WHL and at least 35 goals twice in the AHL, others believe he has plenty more to give at the NHL level. 

 

Brouwer, 23, is a big man – 6’3" and 215 pounds – and figures to be a regular in the stocked Blackhawks’ line-up during the upcoming season.  His 2009 playoff action came as a "banger" on the fourth line with Ben Eager and Adam Burish, but he played the vast majority of the regular season on scoring lines.  He’s best known by Hawk fans as the big winger who blew upwards of 40 scoring chances last season – often by clanging would-be goals off a post behind the goaltender.  Depending on who he calls "linemates" during the 2009-10 season, Brouwer could well find the scoring touch he’s displayed previously in the WHL and AHL.  Indeed, as many young scorers’ first major stepping stone is getting chances, it could be said that Brouwer took a major step towards becoming a solid second-tier NHL scorer last season.

 

Interesting Fact: Brouwer holds a handful of AHL team records, including most power play goals by a Rockford Ice Hog in a season (25) and goals during a regular season by a Norfolk Admiral (41).  Other than that, the only thing interesting about Brouwer is his complete lack of interesting attributes.

 

Statistics:

Last Year: 69 games with 10+16=26

Fearless Forecast: 80 games with 21+18=39...an increase of 13 points

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Cam Barker

Barker As far as "breakout players" go, the Western Conference finalist Chicago Blackhawks may not have many.  After all, their rising stars carried much of the load last season and garnered much of the national praise along the way for doing so.

But, Cam Barker, 23, may just be ready to enjoy a considerable leap in his production during the 2009-10 season.  Aside from producing offensively, Barker, who played much of last season in a third-pairing role, took a significant step forward in his defensive play during the latter portion of the season, and may well be ready to step into a top-four spot next season following the departure of Joel Quenneville’s favorite son, Matt Walker, to the Lightning.  Given a possible jump in even strength minutes, a full NHL season (he played the first few weeks of last season in the AHL while the Hawks struggled with salary cap issues) and his permanent spot atop the scary Blackhawks’ power play, it’s quite possible Barker could challenge Brian Campbell for the team lead in points by a defenseman. 

 

Interesting Fact: Cam Barker was the 3rd pick overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, taken immediately following Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, and immediately preceding now-teammate Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler, who never signed a contract with the Phoenix Coyotes, the team that drafted him.  (Wonder if those Russian kids will ever make it…)

 

Statistics:
Last year:
68 games with 6+34=40

Fearless Forecast: 80 games with 13+48=61...an increase of 21 points

 

LTL - Jackets

Written by Light The Lamp

Derick Brassard

Derick-brassardBrassard was a 1st round pick (#6 overall) of the Jackets in the 2006 NHL Draft.  Last year he notched 10+15=25 in 31 games before suffering a season ending shoulder injury in a fight against Dallas’ James Neil.

Brassard is a determined & dynamic player who has really improved his defensive game.  He has now gained Ken Hitchcock’s trust and is expected to play major minutes on the #1 power play unit and at the top of Columbus’ lineup...centering Rick Nash on the Jackets #1 line next season.  Brassard will look to prove he can stay healthy for an entire season in 2009-10.

Interesting Fact: Brassard was named the NHL's "Rookie of the Month" in October of 2008

 

Statistics:
Last Year: 31 games with 10+15=25

Fearless Forecast: 80 games with 26+44=70...an increase of 45 points

___________________________________________________________________________

Jakub Voracek
Fantasy_g_voracek1_300Voracek was a 1st round pick (#7 overall) of the Jackets in the 2007 NHL Draft.  He notched at 9+29=38 season in 80 games as 19 year old rookie last season. 

Voracek started on the 4th line and slowly worked his way up the lineup all while showing tremendous definsive skills.  He’s more of a playmaker than finisher but figures to spend most of his time in the top six of the Jackets lineup playing next to Antoine Vermette and RJ Umbeger.

 

Despite just scoring one goal over his last 32 games, Voracek continued to improve throughout the year in all three zones and turned in a solid rookie campaign which included being one of the best Jackets performers in their 1st round playoff exit.

 

Interesting Fact:  Voracek’s 38 points as a rookie were just one off the total Rick Nash notched as a Jacket rookie in the 2002 season.

 

Statistics:

Last Year: 80 games with 9+29=38

Fearless Forecast: 80 games with 14+43=57...an increase of 19 points


 

TTD - Wings

Written by The Triple Deke

Ville Leino
 
LeinoWith the exodus of multiple point-producing forwards this offseason, the Wings will lean heavily on Leino in 2009-10. He turns 26 in October and was the Finnish player of the year in 2008, so he isn't that inexperienced despite finishing his first full NHL season.
 
Leino's style fits the mold of the Red Wings' system perfectly.  He's a skilled, puck-possessing winger who already looks polished in the offensive zone.  From the limited action we've seen, he plays well along the boards, exudes creativity and plays with a ton of confidence.  He's not a speed demon or a good defender (there's points for backchecking in fantasy hockey right?  No?), but his strengths outweigh the weaknesses, and he's got a ton of upside.  Lord, how we've dreamed about using the word "upside" in a scouting report.
 
Intersting Fact: Leino scored his first NHL goal in the first period of his first game.  It was stupendous.  

Statistics: 
Last Year: 
13 games with 5+4=9
Fearless Forecast: 
74 games with 15+28=43...an increase of 34 points

___________________________________________________________________________

Valtteri Filppula

FillaFilppula is a year younger than Leino, but he'll be starting his 4th full NHL season this year.  His point totals have increased from 17 to 36 to 40 during his three regular seasons, and 5 to 11 to 16 in three post-seasons.  Wings fans have a lot to be encouraged about after a very strong showing in the 2009 playoffs.
 
Another prototypical Red Wing, Fil is a talented two-way center who could be a couple years away from being a bona fide star in this league.  His numbers don't yet reflect his untapped offensive potential, but trust me if you haven't watched him -- it's there.  He'll be needed in 2009-10 to step up and fill the void left by the exits of Hossa, Hudler and Samuelsson, so every Wing fan is hoping that this will be the year.
 
Don't let his drop in goals from 2008 to 2009 fool you.  He's a well-rounded offensive player who really found his stride this past spring and could turn a corner in 2010.
 
Interesting Fact: Filppula has been known to make women drop their pants with a simple stroke of his hair.
 
Statistics:
Last Year:
80 games with 12+28=40
Fearless Forecast: 

80 games with 20+36=56...an increase of 16 points

 

OTF - Preds

Written by On The Forecheck

J.P. Dumont
Dumont Last season saw his offensive totals dip slightly after steady increases over the previous two years, with his 16 goals the lowest since the 2002-03 season, but Dumont still led the Predators in overall scoring. Hopes are high that the six-time 20 goal-scorer will regain his touch.  At 31 years of age Dumont should have several productive years still ahead of him and with a healthy Steve Sullivan on the opposite wing, opportunities should open up for the entire top line.

Interesting Fact: Dumont came to Nashville by a rather unusual route – after winning a salary arbitration case against Buffalo in the summer of 2006, the Sabres opted not to sign him to a contract and allowed to him walk away as a free agent. The Predators picked him up at a bargain price and Dumont’s game has improved ever since.

Statistics:

Last Year: 80 games with 16+49=65

Forecast: 80 games with 25+55=80...an increase of 15 points

___________________________________________________________________________


Steve Sullivan

Sullivan The most exciting story from last season was, without a doubt, the unexpected return of Sullivan from a back injury and consequent surgeries that kept him out of action for nearly two years. Once he got a few games under his belt he played at a point-per-game pace over the final quarter of the season (27 points in 25 games) and was rewarded with the Masterton Trophy. His speed and elusiveness bring an extra dimension to the Nashville attack and Sully, along with Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont, should make up one of the most dangerous top lines in the NHL.

Interesting Fact: The impasse in Sully’s negotiations on a new contract was broken by a local sports radio host in Nashville. During an interview on the Thom Abraham Show, GM David Poile was asked about the length of contract that Sullivan was asking for. Poile said that Sully wanted more than two years, which as it turns out, was a misunderstanding. Sullivan, who was listening to the interview, took the opportunity to call Poile directly and clear the air...which led to a new two-year contract for the Nashville fan favorite.

Statistics:

Last Year: 41 games with 11+21=32

Forecast: 70 games with 30+40=70...an increase of 38 points


STGT-Blues

Written by St. Louis Game Time

You want a couple breakout players for the Blues this year? Paul Kariya was on the verge of a great season before going down to injury (15 points in 11 games) and he should have a good year. Brad Boyes’ goal-scoring dipped a bit but he could crack the 40-goal barrier again. Andy McDonald was great… when he was in the lineup (44 points in 46 games). The list goes on and on. Instead, we’ll focus on a couple young guys who will have increased responsibilities this year, giving them the best chance to really increase their fantasy value.

Erik Johnson
Erik johnson The consensus No. 1 in 2006, played only one season at the University of Minnesota before bolting to St. Louis.  In 2007-08 he was brought along slowly as a rookie but by the end of the year he was getting great minutes and playing in every situation.  He wound up leading all Blues defensemen that season in goals (5), assists (28) and points.  He also put up 18 of his 33 points on the power play.

After missing all of last season due to a now-infamous golf cart accident, he is motivated to make up for lost time.  Expect him to be treated as a top-pairing blueliner, to man the point on the top power play unit and to see time on the penalty kill as well. If he can stay healthy, and there’s no reason to think he won’t, Johnson looks to challenge T.J. Oshie for the title of Mr. Popularity among Blues fans.

Interesting Fact: When he moved to St,. Louis, Johnson became a tenant at Al MacInnis' house.  MacInnis, the Hall of Famer whose No. 2 is handing in the rafters at the DrinkScotch Center in St. Louis, is the Vice President of Hockey Operations for the BLues and has been a mentor to the franchise defenseman.

Statistics:
2007-08:  69 games played. 5+28=33
2008-09: Did not play
Fearless Forecast: 82 games with 10+42=52…increase of 19 points (on 2007-08).

___________________________________________________________________________

David Perron
Perron We easily could have picked David Backes or T.J. Oshie in this spot.  Backes broke out last year with 31 goals and 54 points, an increase of 18 goals and 23 points over 2007-08. Oshie wasn't far behind with a nice 39 points in only 57 games.

Perron, meanwhile, is entering his third season wearing the Note and has tracked from 27 points as a rookie to 50 points in his sophomore season. This year he’ll be asked to play a more significant role and will likely get a more regular shot on the power play.

Perron has frustrated fans and his coaches with some up-and-down play in his first year and a half, but at the end of last year he picked up his intensity. In the Blues’ short-lived playoff run, Perron was one of the best players on the ice in every game and looked like a man playing a man’s game for the first time since making the team.  If has truly taken the next step forward, 2009-10 could be his coming-out party.

Interesting Fact: Perron, a self-proclaimed fan of Alexei Kovalev, has some of the sweetest hands on the team. While he seldom has the opportunity to show them off in game situations, he excels in the shootout (or here if you need more proof)) and is known for a pre-game warm-up routine where he skates around the ice juggling a puck on his stick.  The Blues even highlighted his stickhandling ability in a commercial last season.

Statistics:
Last year: 81 games played with 15+35=50.
Fearless Forecast: 81 games played with 25+40=65…an increase of 15 points.

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