NHL Fantasy Breakout Players 2016/2017

     Featured Image: Greg M. Cooper / USA TODAY Sports

    Every year there are those few players who are taken in the middle of your fantasy draft and end up being studs at the top of your lineup. When your fantasy season is done, it seems obvious that these players were candidates for breakout years. However, making the decision to take a chance on these players during your fantasy draft isn’t a easy decision. Here are Blue Steam Hockey’s picks to end up as NHL Fantasy Breakout Players.
    The definition of ‘breakout player’ was pulled from ESPN. 
     
    Breakout: A player who will leap into or close to the upper echelon of players at his position for the first time because of a dramatic increase in production compared to his previous seasons (or in his rookie season).
    In addition, to put more context into why we chose the following players, below are the listed fantasy categories that we were operating under.

    Player Fantasy Categories: Goals, Assists, PIMs, Plus/Minus, PPP, Shots

    Goalie Fantasy Categories: Wins, GAA, SV%, Shutouts

     
     

    Nick’s NHL Fantasy Breakout Players

    Torey Krug – D, Boston

    Krug is a shot machine. In 2015/2016, he was fourth in all defenseman with 244 shots. Apparently, there was two goalies in net whenever Krug let one go, because only 4 of those 244 shots actually went in the net, this left him with a less than stellar 1.6% shooting percentage. Even so, Krug still finished with a solid 44 points with 19 PPP.
     
    Torey Krug (25 years old) is entering the prime of his career. Don’t expect his shot count to decrease and don’t expect his shooting percentage to stay at 1.6%. In his previous two years, Krug had shooting percentages of 5.9% and 7.7%. Don’t be surprised if you see Torey Krug end up with 15+ goals, 25+ PPP and 250+ shots in the upcoming season.

    Nazem Kadri – C, Toronto

    Last year, Nazem Kadri finished with 17 goals and 45 points on 260 shots. Kadri had a rough start to his year with little luck, at one point, his shooting percentage fell below 2%, eventually climbing back to 6.5% when the year was done.
     
    Looking beyond his average point production, Kadri had a good year and got into Babcock’s good books. As a result, Kadri will most likely start as the Maple Leafs #1 center (until Babcock becomes more familiar with Matthews) and will definitely be paired with more offensively gifted players than he did last year. Expect him to shoot more to his career average of 10.5% and surpass 60 points for the first time in his career.
     

    Andrew’s NHL Fantasy Breakout Players

    Nikolaj Ehlers, RW, Winnipeg

    Nikolaj Ehlers played mostly 3rd line minutes this year with the Jets, but he showed tons of flash and skill for a rookie. Ehlers is fast, smart and generated lots of scoring chances in the ice time he was given. After a fast start with 8 points and 37 shots in his first 10 games, Ehlers slowed down a bit as the season went on, finishing with 38 points in 72 games.
     
    Entering his sophomore season, Ehlers should see more ice time. I can see him building on his rookie year with a 20 goal, 30 assist season, and breaking the 200 SOG barrier.
     

    Mika Zibanejad, C, New York

    Mika Zibanejad has shown a lot of promise with solid results since entering the league in 2011. He’s improved on his points per game every season and slowly earned more and more ice time. With his trade out of the low-budget tire fire that is the Ottawa Senators, Zibanejad has a chance to really break out on a team that’s in need of young, offensive firepower. While he’s not a high volume shooter, Zibanejad excels at creating scoring chances and will see lots of time on the powerplay this year. I expect him to break the 60 point mark this year, with 20 of those coming on the power play

     

    Brendan’s NHL Fantasy Breakout Players

    Elias Lindholm, C, Carolina

    Lindholm has failed to meet the expectations set for him when he was selected in the 2013 draft, and the 2016-2017 season will be a big test to see where he will be taking his career. He put up an almost identical statline in 2015 (11G, 28A) as he did in 2014 (17G, 22A) and has not shown as much growth as the Hurricanes were hoping for. However, with a shooting percentage of just 6.3% last season, I believe Lindholm could be posed for a breakout season. With the addition of Teovo Teravainen and highly touted prospect Sebastian Aho, Lindholm could have the talented linemates he needs to take the next step in his career to being a top-end two-way center. If Lindholm can establish some chemistry with his new projected linemates, I can see him putting up 25 goals and 35 assists in 2016-2017.

     Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Florida

    After being selected third-overall in 2011 and having a breakout Calder trophy season, Huberdeau has slowly developed into a solid first line player. Huberdeau bounced back from a poor second season in 2013 to post solid totals in 2014 (54 points) and 2015 (59 points). I would bet that this is the season Huberdeau reaches that elite plateau as one of the top wingers in the NHL. You can already expect to see Huberdeau as a high-mid round pick in drafts this year, but  look for him to take a step forward this season towards elite status. With Florida’s strong core of young studs coming into their prime and ever growing chemistry with linemate and freak of nature Alexander Barkov, Huberdeau is primed to explode. I could easily see Huberdeau posting 30 goals and 45 assists in 2016, giving the Panthers solid value for the new extension they just signed him to this offseason.

     

    Spencer’s  NHL Fantasy Breakout Players

     The NHL is getting younger and younger and it’s harder and harder to stay on top of depth charts, European signings, and recent draft classes. Look for these guys in the mid- to late-rounds.
     

    Joonas Donskoi, RW, San Jose

    You might remember Donskoi from the Sharks’ playoff run last year. The 24-year-old had 36 points (11G, 25A) in 76 games in his rookie season and 12 points (6G, 6A) in 24 playoff games, yet some are still concerned about his age. Would you feel better knowing he won the Finnish version of the Conn Smythe in 2014-15? (Past winners include Saku Koivu, Niklas Backstrom, Olli Jokinen, and most recently, Patrik Laine). Donskoi also won back-to-back Liiga Championships before competing for the 2016 Stanley Cup. Playing on a line with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau, it’s safe to assume Donskoi is just getting started.

    Beau Bennett, RW, New Jersey

    I don’t want to pick many Devils either but hear me out. The former 20th overall pick showed promise in Pittsburgh but was always pushed down the depth chart by guys like Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Steve Downie, Craig Adams, and Lee Stempniak. Bennett was flipped for a third round pick in the draft and now finally has an everyday spot on an NHL roster. We can expect Bennett to take full advantage of his new opportunity.

    The vast majority of the Devils’ roster will be available in the middle and later rounds, so don’t be hasty with Bennett.

     
    Honourable mention: Ryan Strome.
     

    David’s NHL Fantasy Breakout Players

    Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado

    With Patrick Roy gone as head coach and MacKinnon entering his 4th season, I’m looking for 30+ goals and 70+ points from the Nova Scotia native. That would top his current bests of 24 goals and 63 points from his rookie year. That 8.7% career shooting percentage has got to give, right?

    Alex Galchenyuk, C, Montreal

    Look for Galchenyuk to retain that #1 centre position for the entire year. He should have better linemates with Brendan Gallagher healthy and the addition of Alexander Radulov. 70+ points for the dynamic … *checks HockeyDB* … American.
     
     
    Featured Image: Greg M. Cooper / USA TODAY Sports