Does a Playoff Breakout Spawn a Breakout the Following Season?

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.

  Playoff Playoff   Year+1 Year+1
Season Games Points   Games Points   Games Points
Forwards    
Fernando Pisani 2005-06 80 37   24 18   77 28
Derek Roy 2005-06 70 46   18 15   75 63
Corey Perry 2006-07 82 44   21 15   70 54
Johan Franzen 2007-08 72 38   16 18   71 59
Jiri Hudler 2007-08 81 42   22 14   82 57
Ryane Clowe 2007-08 15 8   13 9   71 52
Joe Pavelski 2007-08 82 40   13 9   80 59
Valtteri Filppula 2008-09 80 40   23 16   55 35
Dave Bolland 2008-09 81 47   17 12   39 16
Milan Lucic 2008-09 72 42   10 9   50 20
Claude Giroux 2009-10 82 47   23 21   82 76
Ville Leino 2009-10 55 11   19 21   81 53
PER82 82 43     82 56
    +30%
Dmen    
Christian Ehrhoff 2005-06 64 23   11 8   82 33
Stephane Robidas 2007-08 82 26   18 11   72 26
Dustin Byfuglien 2009-10 82 34   22 16   81 53
P.K. Subban 2009-10 2 2   14 8   77 38
Erik Karlsson 2009-10 60 26   6 6   75 45
PER82 82 31     82 41
    +32%
   
Steve Downie 2010-11 57 32   10 12  
Brad Marchand 2010-11 77 41   10 10  
Sean Bergenheim 2010-11 80 29   11 8  
James van Riemsdyk 2010-11 75 40   10 7  
Marc-Andre Gragnani 2010-11 9 3   7 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.

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