After six great weeks of Breakout's we're sad to see the last of our Blogger's Breakouts this week....which means we'll have to start doing some real work around here. This week, our Blogging friends from the Pacific Division pick which two players from their respective teams will take a big jump forward this coming season. And don't forget, we take our own shot at predicting the breakouts so make sure you come back for a look at our famous Breakout Bible later in August. Finally, pay these blogs a visit...they are all FHS approved and a much better use of your time than watching baseball.
After six great weeks of Breakout's we're sad to see the last of our Blogger's Breakouts this week....which means we'll have to start doing some real work around here. This week, our Blogging friends from the Pacific Division pick which two players from their respective teams will take a big jump forward this coming season.
And don't forget, we take our own shot at predicting the breakouts so make sure you come back for a look at our famous Breakout Bible later in August.
Finally, pay these blogs a visit...they are all FHS approved and a much better use of your time than watching baseball.
Written by Arthur of Anaheim Calling
James Wisniewski tore his right ACL before the start of last season (his third injury in 18 months to that knee), but joined Chicago and Anaheim to play 48 games and score .06 goals per game and .44 assists per game in a contract year. He's not keeper league material, but he punches the clock when he wants a raise.
This will be another contract year for the Michigan born defenseman, but he'll have a little more help this time around. Coach Carlyle intends to play him with Ryan Whitney, a dedicated stay-at-home blueliner, who will give Wisniewski the freedom to join the play (with Selanne and Koivu). Occasionally, Whitney will demand the shot from the point, but his propensity for turnovers will keep the puck on Wisniewski's stick in transition, thus flooding the former Blackhawk's secondary assist column. On the power play, the Ducks will use Wisniewski's accurate shot on the first unit or allow him to quarterback the second unit; either role should be statistically beneficial.
Interesting Fact: Wisniewski started a clothing line to raise money for the USO. If one was so inclined, she (or he?) could purchase a pair of booty shorts with the word "Wiz" written over the right butt cheek.
Last Year: 48 games with 3+21=24
Fearless Forecast: 70 games 8+38=46...an increase of 22 points
Written by Daniel of Anaheim Calling
With the acquisitions of Lupul and Koivu, it would be easy to write off Ebbett as a surplus center, likely to have a new home by December. However, the Ducks are now in possession of what might be one of the deadliest/most annoying third lines in the league. I'm looking for Carlyle to drop Ebbett to the left side on a line with Todd Marchant and Mike Brown. The speed on that line would be a problem for almost anyone.
It may not be a big line or as defensively sound as the stopper line of the 2007 Cup team, but they'll still be able to cycle the puck. Ebbett proved that he can distribute the puck and find scorers. Marchant and Brown may not be the ideal finishers for someone of Ebbett's talents, but I think the volume of scoring chances will mean double-digit goals for both Marchant and Brown. Mix in the odd shift with the big scorers, and I see Ebbett posting 40-50 assists and around 15 goals. I expect him to break 50 points, and wouldn't be surprised if he could crack 60. Not bad numbers for a player who might not even get drafted because he won't be playing Top 6. Ebbett offers great value on a fantasy squad.
Interesting Fact: In his senior season with Michigan, he was a finalist for the CCHA Best Defensive Forward Award.
Last Year: 48 GP with 8+24=32
Fearless Forecast: 75 GP 13+42=55...an increase of 23 points
Written by Andrew's Dallas Stars Page
Some might think Brenden Morrow had his breakout season in 2007-08, when he had 74 points (32 goals, 42 assists) in 82 games and then was brilliant in the playoffs as the Stars advanced to the Western Conference Finals. But after missing almost all of last season with a torn ACL, expect him to be determined and bounce back with vengeance this season. The opportunity to land a spot on Canada's Olympic team should provide even extra motivation, if that's even possible with the always motivated Morrow.
With new coach Marc Crawford's penchant for relying on his top players, Morrow, who should be on the top line with Mike Ribeiro, will get called on a lot this season and will be a key piece on the Stars' power play. Bouncing back from the kind of injury Morrow suffered can take time, but Morrow's worked hard to rehabilitate the knee and should be a force from the moment the puck drops on the 2009-10 season.
Interesting Fact: Morrow has missed considerable amounts of time two of the last three seasons due to injuries suffered in games against the Chicago Blackhawks. In 2006-07 he missed 33 games after having tendons in his wrist severed by a skate blade in a game at Chicago. In 2008-09 he missed 64 games after tearing his ACL in a game against the Blackhawks. Statistics Fabian Brunnstrom But with a full season under his belt he should be ready to make some good strides this season. He's highly skilled and showed a lot of offensive promise last season. He's got a solid work ethic and is eager to learn. He's got a good chance to see his ice time go up and if that happens then his numbers should go up as well. Interesting Fact: Brunnstrom is one of only three players in NHL history to record a hat trick in his debut, scoring three goals, including the game-winner, in a 6-4 victory over Nashville on October 15, 2008. Statistics
Last Year: 18 games with 5+10=15
Fearless Forecast: 77 games with 31+41=72... an increase of 57 points
If you look at Fabian Brunnstrom's numbers from last season, they weren't too bad. He picked up 17 goals and 12 assists in his rookie season and his first in North America. Those numbers are better when you consider he played in just 55 games and averaged only about 11 minutes per game. It was an up and down season for Brunnstrom. He scored three goals in his first game, but struggled with his play away from the puck, found himself a healthy scratch at times and had some injury issues too.
Last Year: 55 games with 17+12=29
Fearless Forecast: 75 games with 22+22=44... an increase of 15 points
Interesting Fact: Morrow has missed considerable amounts of time two of the last three seasons due to injuries suffered in games against the Chicago Blackhawks. In 2006-07 he missed 33 games after having tendons in his wrist severed by a skate blade in a game at Chicago. In 2008-09 he missed 64 games after tearing his ACL in a game against the Blackhawks.
But with a full season under his belt he should be ready to make some good strides this season. He's highly skilled and showed a lot of offensive promise last season. He's got a solid work ethic and is eager to learn. He's got a good chance to see his ice time go up and if that happens then his numbers should go up as well.
Interesting Fact: Brunnstrom is one of only three players in NHL history to record a hat trick in his debut, scoring three goals, including the game-winner, in a 6-4 victory over Nashville on October 15, 2008.
Written by The Royal Half
A "breakout" is exactly what Los Angeles Kings fans have been waiting for the last few years. After going through a complete re-build, including a 29th place finish, the Kings have gotten themselves into a position to battle for a low playoff spot in the 2009-10 season.
Quick wasn’t even supposed to be the best goalie named Jonathan on the Kings roster…that honor was reserved for 2006 7th overall pick Jonathan Bernier. Thrown into the Kings #1 position last season after the colossal failure that was Jason LaBarbera had been traded to Vancouver, Quick provided the Kings with their first solid home grown goaltender since...Jamie Storr? (Yikes!)
A strong, athletic goalie that can play both by the book and leap to make a spiraling save, Quick benefited from new Head Coach Terry Murray’s defensive minded approach to the Kings last season. This season the defense looks to be even stronger with the addition of stay at home defenseman Rob Scuderi. The Kings should be a much-improved team this season, but like the last 15 years…any success they will achieve all depends on who is in their goal. If Quick has a breakout season…so do the Kings.
Interesting Fact: In his first season, Jon Quick was already being used by the Kings promo department to help sell tickets.
Last Year: 44 games with 21-18-2, a 2.48 gaa and a .914 sv%
Fearless Forecast: 60 games with 33-20-7, a 2.36 gaa and a .920 sv%...an increase of 12 wins.
After his 3rd full season in the NHL, Kopitar isn’t quite a household name but he is starting to get more and more recognition as a future star. After 2 strong offensive seasons, Kopitar’s scoring numbers went down a bit this past season, but his defensive play went up, making him a better all-around player.
After skating with linemates like Kyle Calder for most of last season, this year Anze is slated to center the Kings top line with Ryan Smyth on one side and a choice of Justin Williams, Dustin Brown or Alexander Frolov on the other. Being paired with Smyth should definitely bring Kopitar’s point totals up as he prefers to pass, and Smyth is the finisher he’s been looking for.
Interesting Fact: After 3 years in Hollywood, Kopitar is finally starting to get into acting.
Last Year: 82 games with 27+39=66
Fearless Forecast: 82 games with 36+50=86… an increase of 20 points.
Written by Five For Howling
After Phoenix's trade with Calgary (where we shipped Olli Jokinen out) Lombardi was one of the pieces sent back our way. With the Flames, Lombardi put together a few decent seasons but never topped 50 points. The speedster probably would have made it to the magical half century mark this past year but missed 13 games due to a shoulder injury. He's played his best hockey when he's had talented limemates...like Jarome Iginla or when he played with Rick Nash and Shane Doan for Canada in the WJC in 2007 (scoring 12 points in nine games).
Even though he showed great chemistry with Doan in 2007, the Yotes decided to stick him on a line with our other trade deadline acquisitions Scottie Upshall and Petr Prucha, both of whom were resigned in the off season. The trio showed some great chemistry of their own and Lombardi finished the season with 5+11=16 in 19 games...that's 69 points over a whole season.
Interesting Fact: Lombardi has the gift of the gab and a pretty colourful personality to boot. Maybe we can strap a mic on him to sell a few more tickets?
Last Year: 69 games with 46 points
Fearless Forecast: 81 games with 22+48=70...an increase of 24 points
Many think Mueller had his breakout season two years ago when he picked up 54 points as a rookie but we think he was just scratching the surface. Last year, he had a bit of a tough year as he hit the sophomore slump really hard (36 points) but most players on the team still consider him to be the best pure goal scorer on the Coyotes. The 8th overall pick in the 2006 Entry Draft still has tons of uptapped potential and we think he'll get a step closer to fulfilling it this season.
He's more of a finesse player but he has the size to develop a physcial game as well...which could help take his game to a new level. He'll begin the season on the top unit with current star Shane Doan and future star Kyle Turris so all of the elements are there for a breakout season. If he can remember to keep his feet moving without the puck, he could score 30+ goals this season.
Interesting Fact: Like a lot of young hockey players, Mueller had his own 'band'. He and Daniel Carcillo used to rock out with the best of them on Rock Band. Mueller was the master at playing the guitar and Carcillo was the drummer. (sorry for the poor quality).
Last Year: 72 games with 13+23=36
Fearless Forecast: 82 games with 31+27=58...an increase of 22 points
Written by Fear the Fin
After playing three strong seasons in the OHL in which he averaged .9 points per game (1.3 in his final season) Jamie was selected in the second round of the 2006 NHL entry draft (36th overall) by the San Jose Sharks. Although he would go on to play another regular season in the OHL, he would make his first pro appearance immediately after being drafted, scoring 2 points (1 G, 1 A) in 4 AHL playoff games. In 2007-08, McGinn made his official jump from the OHL. After scoring 58 points in 51 games lining up next to co-Sharks prospect Logan Couture, the Sharks signed McGinn to a professional contract and moved him permanently into the AHL. Due to injuries, McGinn played his first NHL game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Two days later, against the rival Detroit Red Wings, McGinn scored a goal and added an assist in a 4-2 win.
After Logan Couture, McGinn is the Sharks’ top offensive prospect. Although he only scored 6 points in 35 games played in 2008-09, he played on the third and fourth lines… lines that included Marcel Goc, Mike Grier, Jody Shelley and Tomas Plihal. These players aren’t exactly offensive juggernauts. McGinn definitely has the skill to contribute offensively for the Sharks, and reminds me of Devin Setoguchi two years ago. I think with increased time and better line mates (Setoguchi and Mitchell are the rumored players right now), he’ll see an increased number of points and will be a late round sleeper pick in most leagues.
Interesting Fact: Although McGinn comes in at only 184 pounds; he likes to rough it up. According to HockeyFights.com, McGinn has dropped the gloves 16 times in his five-year career.
Last Year: 35 games with 4+2=6
Fearless Forecast: 76 games with 15+20=35...an increase of 29 points
So that begs the question: What's wrong with Cheechoo? Well, he's never been the league's best skater, and injuries to the lower body haven't helped that much. He also was demoted from the Sharks' first line to the third in favor of the younger, faster, Devin Setoguchi. In the process, Cheechoo lost the crisp passing of former line-mate and league MVP Joe Thornton, replacing him with the underperforming Marcel Goc. So, while Cheechoo is somewhat at fault for his statistical drop off, no one's really been doing him any favors either.
Oddly enough, I'm writing all this in order to paint a rosy picture. Although things haven't really worked out for Jonathan the last two years, it seems as if the stars are aligning for a comeback season. Even if Cheechoo isn't traded before the season starts (his name is floating around everywhere), it seems he'll be getting much more first line time next year. If Cheechoo stays with San Jose, early indications are that he'll be reunited with Joe Thornton and Milan Michalek on the first line. He's also working hard this offseason to get into better shape, and he's still one of the top "set-up" shooters in the game. If he is traded, it's rumored that he'll go to a team looking for a top six forward like the New York Islanders, the Tampa Bay Lightning, or the Buffalo Sabres. If Cheechoo is given the opportunity to play top minutes and is able to stay healthy, look for a huge improvement on his recent disappointing seasons.
Interesting Fact: Cheechoo is the Sharks record holder for goals in a season (56), power-play goals in a season (24), and hat-tricks in a season (5).
Last Year: 66 games with 12+17=29
Fearless Forecast: 72 games with 25+35=60...an increase of 31 points