NHL: 15 Players Set to Have Career Years in 2012-2013
Every year there seems to be a select group of players that burst onto the NHL scene and take the league by storm. they put up huge numbers, become a staple in their team's lineup, and become household names.
Some of these players may be youngsters finally reaching their potential, while others may be aging players looking for that one season to solidify their final years in the league.
Whatever the case maybe, every year there are players that put up career numbers.
These following players are ones that I believe will have career years. Ones that become the household names, the ones that sell jerseys, the ones that bring the fans to the rink. These are the players that will have career years in 2012-2013.
Benoit Pouliot is a 25-year-old winger that bounced between the AHL and NHL for the first few years of his career. But in 2009-2010, Pouliot broke into the NHL for good with the Minnesota Wild.
The left winger has been with four teams in since 2009, if you include the Tampa Bay Lightning, whom Pouliot was traded to during this year's draft. He has seen his success slowly rise over the past four years, and this upcoming season will be his breakthrough year.
Pouloit will join elite forwards Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, and Steven Stamkos. With the Lightning being thin on the left side, Pouliot is able to be a top-six forward with the team, and will be paired with at least one of these players on his line.
Pouliot will be able to mesh well with the aging stars of the Lightning, which will boost his productivity. Look for Pouliot to put up 50 points this upcoming season.
Marc-Andre Bergeron is a player that has seen the good and the bad the NHL has had to offer. And with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Bergeron will experience the best season of his career.
Bergeron is a rare breed of player that can play defense and offense skillfully. This allows him to be offensively minded like a forward with the defensive instincts of a defenseman. Paired with the right partner, and he could really produce.
Cue Matt Carle.
It might not have been the main reason behind signing Carle, but the Lightning will improve the blue line with him up front. If Bergeron and Carle are paired together, the two will be able to put up some big numbers for the Lightning and give them some offense from the blue line.
Bergeron only has a couple years in his prime left, and can mentor Carle by being on the same line. Bergeron will close out his prime by putting up the best numbers of his career.
Ilya Bryzgalov received a lot of heat last season. Seen as the savior to the Flyers' goaltending problems for the last few years, Bryzgalov came in with a lot of hype, but was unable to perform. With a season under his belt, "Bryz" will be able to succeed in the upcoming season.
Bryzgalov may have lost Matt Carle and Chris Pronger on the blue line but the Flyers still have capable players in front of him. And with Shea Weber potentially coming to the Flyers, Bryzgalov should have confidence in those in front of him.
The hype and pressure will be lessened because he is returning. He doesn't have to learn he system the Flyers use. Bryzgalov will be coming into familiarity, and the familiarity will allow him to be comfortable between the pipes.
If anyone watched 24/7 Flyers-Rangers, they saw how odd Bryzgalov is and how he performed with the media scrutinized every move he made. That will no longer be the case. The media will relax, which will cause him to win more games, and he will solve the problems he was signed to fix.
Granted, it's not very hard for George Parros to put up career numbers. But don't let the enforcer fool you, he will become an offensive spark plug for the Florida Panthers this upcoming season.
The 32-year-old enforcer is more known for his fists than his stick. In his eight-year career, Parros' highest point total is 10 points. But in the change of scenery will bring about a resurgence in his offensive ability.
Parros will most likely play on the fourth line and penalty kill. He may not get a lot of playing time, but his job is to be a spark plug for the team. Parros will have the fans supporting him, and with that kind of support, Parros will respond well.
Parros can easily put up 15 points for the Panthers this upcoming season. And not only that, but he could also put up career numbers in penalty minutes and fighting majors.
Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner had a monster rookie year. His sophomore year saw a decline in production and a concussion that would sideline him for numerous games. But Skinner will come back with a vengeance.
Skinner was seen as the sidekick to Eric Staal, and his opponents played him so. This would be the reason for the decline in numbers. But with the acquisition of Jordan Staal, Skinner's role on the team will diminish. Skinner won't be under as intense pressure to score goals. And this will allow him to score more goals.
Without the pressure, Skinner will have more freedom on the ice. He will be able to open up his game just as he did in his rookie season, and will be able to put up similar numbers. But with his experience, he will put up career numbers.
Much like Bryzgalov and Skinnner, Setoguchi was surrounded by pressure to perform; and, like them, he underperformed. Setoguchi will also be one to bounce back and put up career numbers in the 2012-2013 season.
Setoguchi was brought over from the San Jose Sharks in the 2011 offseason to be an offensive spark plug for the Wild. But now, the Wild have signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to help out Dany Heatley and Mikko Koivu with the scoring.
With so many star players getting the attention of the opponents, Setoguchi will be able to play a smaller role in the offense. This will allow him to sneak up on opponents and quietly become one of the best players on the Wild.
Setoguchi will thrive as a contributing player on the Wild, and will put up career numbers.
Kevin Shattenkirk has become the winning piece of the trade that brought him to St. Louis in 2010. And this upcoming season will have him putting up his best numbers yet.
The reason why Shattenkirk will produce so well is because of the emergence of Alex Pietrangelo. Pietrangelo is becoming one of the elite defensemen in the league, and Shattenkirk is only one or two years behind him.
Shattenkirk is learning from Pietrangelo, and also using his shadow to take opponents by surprise. He will take advantage of being on the second line even though he'll be putting first line numbers. He can pass and shoot, and will be a part of the team's power play and penalty kill.
Shattenkirk is a young defenseman that will get a lot of playing time. And with his playing time, Shattenkirk will put up big numbers as a part of the core in the Blues' blue line.
Luke Schenn was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for James van Riemsdyk just before the NHL draft. And with the change of scenery comes big numbers.
Unlike the majority of the players on this list, Schenn isn't paid to be an offensive player. He is one of the gritty players on the team, who will battle in font of the net to prevent goals rather than let a snapshot rip at the offensive blue line for a goal.
But where Schenn does excel is in his defensive abilities. Schenn will put up career numbers for plus-minus ratings and for hits, not for goals and assists. But, if he is paired with the right line, he could rack up some assists and PR in assists too.
Schenn is a defensive specialist, and will put up career numbers in defensive categories.
Tanner Glass was an unsung hero on the Winnipeg Jets, leading his team by example without a letter on his chest. But this season, Glass will finally push through and become an elite player on his team.
Glass has not been the offensive juggernaut that he can be, with a career high of only 16 points. Playing as a bottom-six forward is part of the reason, but he has a chance to move into a top six forward role with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The chance to be a top six forward will fuel him to put up big numbers.
What Glass has for him is his style of play. Being a two-way, aggressive forechecker will benefit Glass. Glass will start to take advantage of the mistakes that he creates. Glass has learned and will continue to be very opportunistic, and will be able to put up numbers to pass up his career high 16 points.
Glass is on a team with many stars and leaders on the ice. And he will finally start producing like a leader should.
Before Marc Staal was concussed in 2011 by his brother Eric, his numbers were climbing. Now prepared for a full season, Staal will pick up right where he left off.
The offensive capability of the Rangers is staggering. The Blueshirts have Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards, along with defensemen Michael Del Zotto and Brandon Dubinsky. Staal also has support with Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes to cover any mistake that he may make.
All of this equals the perfect combination for Staal to assimilate back into his position. But Staal will come back completely healthy, and will be able to put up numbers he did before his concussion.
Staal is one of the youngest leaders on the Rangers, and he will show the entire league that he is a force to be reckoned with.
At 33 years old, Chris Neil is a seasoned veteran that may be exiting the prime of his career. So what better time to put up your best numbers of your career?
Neil has only put up 30-plus points once in his career, in 2005-2006 with his current team, the Ottawa Senators. But what make this the best time for Neil to emerge is the young talent that can accompany him. Neil has the ability to lead and teach the young talent, and in turn will reap the benefits of playing with that talent.
By teaching the young players how to play, he can use their talent in the teams system. He can set them up, or have them set him up for the goal. Not only that, but his physical style of play makes him a vital part of the team, meaning he will be one of the cornerstones of the team.
Neil may be old, but there is never an age limit to put up great numbers.
Maxim Lapierre was a crucial part of the Canuck team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011, despite only putting up 12 points while being on three different teams. Now with a steady home in Vancouver, Lapierre will finally break out.
Lapierre is entering his prime, and is a part of one of the best offenses in the NHL. Lapierre is versatile, being able to play center and left wing, which will also boost his production. If paired with Ryan Kesler and Alexander Burrows, expect his numbers to skyrocket.
With players like the two above, paired with Henrik and Daniel Sedin, and Kevin Bieksa and Alexander Edler, Lapierre will see his production increase twofold.
Sean Couturier was Philadelphia's Rookie of the Year, putting up 27 points in 77 games last season. This upcoming season will see him improve even more.
Couturier became a top-six forward within the first year of his career, and this next season he will show that he deserves to be there. Couturier suffered a concussion last season which altered his play for the last part of the season.
This next season will show that Couturier is back and ready to play in the NHL. He will pass his 27 points and will play all 82 games. Couturier will contribute for the Flyers and show that he is one of the NHL's best young stars.
Darren Helm is a five-year veteran of the NHL, and is looking to finally put up some big numbers. This season is that time.
Helm is only 25 years old, and has already put up 32 points in a season. With the departure of Jiri Hurdler, Helm has the opportunity to step into a top-six forward spot for the Wings. For him to succeed, he will have to put up some big numbers.
Helm will show that not only he has the ability to put up top-six-forward numbers, but will also show that he has the ability to be a leader on the team. Helm is ready to break into the upper level of the NHL.
Part of the biggest signing of this year's free agency, Ryan Suter instantly became a staple in the Minnesota offense. Suter will show he was worth the money and put up career numbers.
Suter was part of the blue line core in Nashville, but was always No. 2 to Shea Weber. Now, he will be the go-to guy on the blue line without a question.
Being the go to guy in Minnesota will boost his numbers. Even with the added pressure from the fans and opponents, Suter will produce and show he can be one of the leaders on the Wild.
Sometimes coming to a new city to play causes the player to underperform until they get accustomed to the system. Suter has enough hockey sense and talent to power through the turbulence of a new city and put up career numbers.
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