Enjoy it while it lasts kid
As per usual in the playoffs we're seeing some amazing performances from players that haven't really had that breakout moment before. This year it's guys like James van Riemsdyk, Sean Bergenheim, Steve Downie & Brad Marchand that are emerging in the playoffs after just modest production during their NHL career to this point.
Good for them, I'm so happy for them, but I want to justify that watching all this playoff hockey is going to help me win my fantasy leagues next year so what we really want to know is... is a player who breaks out during the playoffs more apt to have a breakout the following season?
I took a look back at the last five playoffs to find the players who hadn't previously had a breakout season (using our definition of a breakout: Forward > 50 pts, Dmen > 30 pts & Goalie = established #1) but surprised with "breakouts" during the playoffs.
|James van Riemsdyk||2010-11||75||40||10||7|
There were also three goalies who met our criteria:
Cam Ward, 2005-06, 14 RS Wins, 15 Playoff Wins, 30 Wins the following season
Semyon Varlamov, 2008-09, 4 RS Wins, 7 Playoff Wins, 15 Wins the following season
Michael Leighton, 2009-10, 17 RS Wins, 8 Playoff Wins, 1 Win the following season
So the sample size is admittedly small but, as you can see, the aggregate numbers are pretty favourable that we may have something here. Of the 20 data points, 13 of them went on to have a breakout season the following year and at least a few more probably would have if it wasn't for injuries. In addition, you just had to be patient and the likes of Lucic & Robidas went on to have breakouts within a few seasons.
The takeaway here is that good times are likely ahead for JVR, Downie, Marchand and maybe Gragnani next season but I'd count on Bergenheim being the exception to the rule and pulling a Pisani.