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Fantasy Breakout Players for 2012-13

by chewy 31. August 2012 13:27

As we hold out hope that sanity may prevail and we actually do end up having a fantasy hockey season in 2012, it's time to start putting together your draft list.  Over the next few weeks, we will be breaking down the field by various categories.  To kick things off, we will start with the group that has the best chance to win your season: breakout players.

 

Look for these guys to potentially have a major jump in performance in the upcoming season. You may get some strange looks from the guys who draft strictly off last year's stats. But those guys never win anyway. 

 

Offense

Jamie Benn

DAL

Benn continued his consistent ascension towards one of the top fantasy wingers in the game; however, injuries have held him back so far. He set career highs in goals and assists last season, despite missing 11 games. The Stars brought in some significant, if aging, talent to boost the top 2 lines. Expect Benn to have a breakout effort this season. 30 goals and 75 points are a reasonable expectation.

Jordan Eberle

EDM

Eberle took a giant leap forward in his 2nd NHL season. He's now on the verge of entering the elite. With a full season along side Hall and Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle has an outside chance at challenging for the scoring lead this season. Expect big things here.

Taylor Hall

EDM

If I had to pick one candidate for a huge breakout season, my money would be on Taylor Hall. The only thing that could stop him is a potential relapse from the concussion that held him out of the final 11 games of last season. Hall will be featured on one of the top lines this season with Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins. He is on track to start the season in full health. Last chance to draft him before he enters the elite part of town next season.

Gabriel Landeskog

COL

At age 19, Landeskog was the best player for the Avs last season, leading the team in most stat categories. He was rewarded with the Calder trophy. It's natural to expect another step forward in his second season. He's not afraid to shoot, as evidenced by his 270 shots on goal last season. Look for a go at 30 goals.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

EDM

The final piece of the up-and-coming superstar line in Edmonton, Nugent-Hopkins was held back in his rookie year by back to back injuries. That likely cost him the Calder trophy, but he should have plenty of chances at earning hardware over the next few years. Expect big things from the center in his 2nd season.

Jeff Skinner

CAR

Following a fantastic rookie season, Skinner had a rough go at it in his sophomore season. That would be the concussion that interrupted his progression. The Canes apparently aren't scared, as they rewarded him with a big 6-year extension this summer. While Carolina is expecting a big boost from the arrivals of Staal and Semin, having Skinner reach his potential would have a bigger impact. With the offensive talent to help him along, look for a big breakout season from Skinner.

Jordan Staal

CAR

Through 6 NHL seasons, Staal has never registered more than 50 points, so why so much cause for optimism heading into his 7th season. Let me list the reasons: 1) Staal started his NHL career before he started shaving. He's just 23 years old. 2)He hasn't been healthy for the last 2 seasons. He's back to full health at this point. 3) Opportunity. He finally gets his shot to be a first or 2nd line center in Carolina. 4) He's obviously where he wants to be. He basically dictated his destination when he told the Pens he wanted to play with big brother. Bottom line is that there are many, many reasons to believe this will be the breakout season that Staal has been waiting for.

James van Riemsdyk

PHI

JVR got a big promotion when he was dealt to Toronto this summer. He went from a very crowded offense in Philly, where he typically saw 3rd line minutes, to first line duties in Toronto. The Leafs are toying with placing him at center to work with Kessel and Lupul on the #1 unit. That move could be the catalyst for his breakout campaign in his 3rd season.

Defense

John Carlson

WAS

It seems that the hand-off from Mike Green to Carlson is complete. Caps fans will be anxious to see what new Coach Oates brings to the table, but from a fantasy perspective, it has to get better than 2011-12. Carlson's production was limited last year by the system. Assuming he gets the green light to fly, this should be a big breakout year. Think 50 point season.

Ryan Ellis

NAS

Ellis was in and out of the deep defensive lineup of the Predators last season. With Suter gone, Ellis should see his role, playing time, and best of all, fantasy value take a big step forward in 2012-13. It's really just a matter of time for this first round pick to emerge as a fantasy factor.

Cam Fowler

ANA

Fowler is due for a big breakout season with the Ducks. Just cover your eyes when you get to the +/- column. His first two seasons show up as -25 and -28. He's just 20 and is getting more comfortable with his game and the Ducks will be leaning heavily on him with Visnovsky leaving town. Assuming the Ducks are better as a team this time around, this should be the year that Fowler emerges as a fantasy stud.

Jack Johnson

COB

Johnson's totals have stayed relatively flat for the past 3 years, lingering around 40 points. 2012 brought a major change to Jackson's prospects. Despite going from the soon-to-be Cup Champion Kings to the basement dwelling Jackets, Johnson actually saw a huge boost in his value upon his trade last February. He immediately went from averaging < 20 minutes a game to logging close to 30. As a results, he amassed 14 points over his final 18 games. That's a sweet omen for good times ahead.

Kris Letang

PIT

Letang is on the verge of superstardom. His progress was hampered last season by concussion issues. Despite fighting the head problems, he still piled up 10 goals and 32 assists in just 51 games. He's also a consistent contributor in the PIMs column, making him an all-around must have fantasy prospect in 2012-13. Look for a career high of 60+ points.

P.K. Subban

MON

Subban took a slight step backwards in his sophomore season, but not enough to label it a slump. As he rolls into his 3rd NHL season, expectations ought to be high. He is far and away the most dynamic and offensively gifted player on the team, at any position. He could easily creep into the 15 goal / 50 point territory to complement his annual 100+ PIMs.

Goalies

Jonathan Bernier

LOS

If it weren't for that Quick guy... much like Schneider in Vancouver, Bernier has been that great goalie that just has to wait. And wait. With Quick's ascension to one of the best in the game, Bernier's best chance at reaching his potential may be with another squad. Because there's a decent chance that may happen, you may want to stash this guy on your bench and wait for his (and your) opportunity.

Jaroslav Halak

STL

You may find it shocking to see Halak so high on the draft list, but here are three reasons to believe he's due for a Vezina challenge: 1. He's that good. Think back to the Olympics when he carried Slovakia. Think back to his spectacular run with the Habs. He can be a wall. 2. Hitchcock. This man has a history of making goalies stats silly good. 3. I'm not sold on Elliot repeating his magic. Halak should emerge as the horse and get his 60 starts. Enough to make this a gamble worth taking. Feel free to wait on him, as others won't have him in the top 10. By the end of the season, he'll be a top-5 goalie. So don't wait too long. Don't forget, St. Louis piled up the wins last season. They just split 'em up between Halak and Elliot. More will fall this way in 2012-13. The one concern to keep an eye on up to draft time is how well he has recovered from last season's ankle injury. Initial word is that he will be good to go.

Tuukka Rask

BOS

Perhaps it's a shocker to see last season's 35th ranked fantasy goalie cracking the top 5 on the draft list. But this is all about opportunity. When Thomas pulled himself out for the year, he handed Rask his finest gift, the chance to shine. The Bruins are a solid defensive team that will win games. Rask was solid last season with a 2.05 GAA. Now with nobody to challenge him for the spotlight, he could make a run at 35-40 wins.

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