Playoff Breakouts & Breakdowns

Christian Petersen

Let's recap the players who stepped up and those who laid down during the post-season

Breakouts

Brandon Saad - He's been close to a breakout in each of his first two NHL seasons but really took it to another level in these playoffs with 6+10=16 in 19 games.  13 of his points came at evens and he led the team with 2.84 ESP/60 in the playoffs (was 5th on team with 1.92 during the regular season).  I also like that he didn't shy away when then heat was turned up as he had 4+5=9 in the conference final vs LA.  He typically plays on L2 with Kane & Shaw, so he could receive an additional boost if the Hawks acquire a true #2C.

Tyler Toffoli - He continued what he started in the regular season which was produce despite seeing limited minutes.  Toffoli had 7+7=14 in 26 playoff games despite being 17th on the team in TOI/gm (13:18) and saw his time on the PP drop to just 36 seconds a game.  I think this guy is poised for a big breakout but fantasy GMs may have to be patient as it could hinge on whether Gaborik & Richards return next season.  This kid has a real nose for the net and knows how to finish.

Chris Kreider - I'm not a huge believer of this kid but he showed me something during the Rangers run as he easily led the team with 2.44 ESP/60 and finished with 5+8=13 in 15 games.  He has the potential to be a big fantasy contributor as he hits and will mix it up in addition to his offensive production.  I'd be even more confident in his breakout chances for next season if Richards & Nash weren't siphoning away his quality ice-time.

Jake Muzzin - Maybe the most impressive breakout of the playoffs was that of Muzzin as he totally played like a boss.  His playoff numbers prorated to 82 games were 38 points, 151 shots, 233 hits & 160 blocks while averaging 23 mpg... more of this please.  Now if he can stick with Doughty, improves his PP production and sees an increase in his ice-time (averaged 19 mpg in the regular season) then let's go ahead and expect him to translate some of this success to a regular season breakout next year.

Here's a few honourable mentions:

Tanner Pearson - Like Toffoli he did his damage in short minutes but still managed 12 point in 24 games with a healthy dose of shots & hits.

Erik Haula - Not quite a breakout but Haula put us all on notice, after just six goals in the regular season, he managed four in 13 playoff games by using his outstanding wheels.

Lars Eller - His 13 point playoff performance was impressive but he had his breakout in the lockout shortened season with 30 points in 46 games so he misses this list on a technicality.

Boone Jenner - Had a point in each of the CBJs final five playoff games vs the Penguins.  If he can add a little more offensive production to his hit totals, we're in business here.

Devante Smith-Pelly - Not a lot of production here with just five points in 12 games but he showed some finishing ability with five goals after potting 27 in 55 AHL games earlier in the campaign.

Dustin Tokarski - The results or the numbers weren't great but he showed how much he battles after being throw in when Price went down injured. He's likely back to the AHL for another year before joining the Habs in 2015-16.

John Gibson - It didn't end well for Gibby after being pulled in G7 against LA but let's give the not-even-a-rookie-yet a mulligan as he looked outstanding to that point.

Breakdowns

Ryan Miller - Don't think this is what the Blues were looking for when they traded for him as in his last 11 games (regular & playoffs) he gave up 3+ goals 10 times and won just two of them.  This performance could limit his options in free agency.

Rick Nash - Led the Rangers in shots during the playoffs but finished 10th in team scoring with just 3+7=10 in 25 games. We only really saw the old Rick Nash for about a month this year as he had 11 goals during an 11 game stretch in January, otherwise he was pretty non-existent.  There is a pattern of inconsistency here that's troubling.

David Krejci & Brad Marchand - There was not a goal to be had between these two and just nine points combined in the Bruins 12 playoff games.  I wouldn't be too concerned about them long-term, both produced well during the regular season.

Matt Moulson - Another upcoming UFA who was auditioning for big money was a big fail as Moulson had just 1+2=3 in 10 games.  He was fighting a groin injury so maybe we give him a pass? Or maybe he was struggling with TWS (Tavares Withdrawal Symptoms)?  If the Islanders were smart, they'd bring this guy back... so they probably won't.

Kris Versteeg - I was watching this guy closely during the playoffs to see if the return to Chicago could lead to a bounceback next season... gotta say it doesn't look promising.  Just 1+2=3 & 16 shots in 15 playoff games and he looked like he's forgotten how to play since he's been away.  He's still just 28 and maybe there is still hope for him but best to let it be somebody else's problem.

Here's a few dishonourable mentions:

Vincent Lecavalier - Flyers fans probably thought he couldn't be worse than the regular season... oh it got worse as Vinny had just two points and nine shots in seven games while averaging less than 11 mpg.

James Neal - Just 2+2=4 in 13 games, some say he was injured but he was healthy enough to lead the team in sogs and play 18 mpg.  This is likely more of a player wilting under the pressure than an indicator of a downward trend... he should be fine.

Ryan Callahan - Usually it's advisable to put in an effort to try to impress your new employer before your contract is up. No points & just five shots for Cally during the Habs four game sweep of the Bolts doesn't scream "SHOW ME THE MONEY".

Sergei Gonchar - Seems as though Lindy Ruff determined that the 40-year-old is about done as he finished 6th amongst Stars dmen in TOI/g at 13:24.  Oh well, he'll pocket a cool five large next year, so don't shed a tear for him.

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