Does a Playoff Breakout Spawn a Breakout the Following Season?

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Wondering if this year's playoff breakouts will be a Franzen or a Pisani?

As per usual in the playoffs we saw some amazing performances from players that haven't really had that breakout moment before.  This year it was guys like Brandon Saad, Tyler Toffoli, Chris Kreider & Jake Muzzin that emerged in the playoffs (see this post) 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 that 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 eight 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) 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
Steve Downie 2010-11 57 32 10 12 75 41
Brad Marchand 2010-11 77 41 10 10 76 55
Sean Bergenheim 2010-11 80 29 11 8 62 23
James van Riemsdyk 2010-11 75 40 10 7 43 24
Brayden Schenn 2011-12 54 18 11 9 80 44
Jakub Voracek 2011-12 78 49 11 10 82 79
Bryan Bickell 2012-13 82 39 23 17 59 15
Derick Brassard 2012-13 80 50 12 12 81 45
Damien Brunner 2012-13 75 44 14 9 60 25
PER82 82 43 82 52
+21%
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
MA Gragnani 2010-11 9 3 7 7 58 15
Torey Krug 2012-13 2 2 15 6 79 40
PER82 82 32 82 39
+22%
Brandon Saad 2013-14 78 47 19 16
Tyler Toffoli 2013-14 62 29 26 14
Chris Kreider 2013-14 66 37 15 13
Jake Muzzin 2013-14 76 24 26 12

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 28 data points, 15 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 & JVR went on to have breakouts within a few seasons.

The takeaway here is that good times are likely ahead for Saad, Toffoli, Kreider and Muzzin but beware that this could be an illusion and one of them might be pulling a Pisani.

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