7 NHL Players Who Are Prepared to Break out in 2012-13
Breakout seasons are usually associated with young players.
A player may get drafted and immediately make an impact like Gabriel Landeskog did last season as he won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year.
However, a player who has been a good player may break out and become a superstar because a teammate left during free agency or a potential star may shake off injury issues and turn potential into production.
Here's a look at seven NHL players who should enjoy success and break out from the status they have had in the past.
Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers
Taylor Hall was the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft and is clearly a solid player for the Edmonton Oilers.
However, he has only scratched the surface of what he is going to do in the NHL. Hall has a world of ability thanks to his dynamic skating, shooting and playmaking ability.
Each of his first two seasons in the league have been cut short by injuries. Nevertheless, he scored 22 goals in 2010-11 and 27 goals last year. Those are good, solid totals for a young player.
However, the 2012-13 season is the year that Hall becomes more than just another good, young player. This is the season he should join the elite players in the league. A good start should fire up his confidence. There's no reason Hall shouldn't break out and become a 40-plus goal scorer and emerge as a superstar.
Chris Kreider, New York Rangers
Chris Kreider is a can't-miss prospect.
He has the size, strength and speed to become a legitimate superstar in the NHL. His talents were on display at the college level as he became a star for the Boston College Eagles before joining the Rangers last season.
He did not play a single regular-season game but played in 18 postseason games and he scored five goals and had two assists.
The Rangers would not allow the Columbus Blue Jackets to go after him when the Rick Nash trade was being negotiated. There's no reason to think that the talented Kreider won't score at least 30 goals in his rookie season.
If Kreider and Nash play up to expectations, the Rangers may be the team to beat in the Eastern Conference this season.
Dougie Hamilton, Boston Bruins
The Bruins are going to give Dougie Hamilton every chance to establish himself as an NHL defenseman this year and it would be shocking if he does not make the team.
It would not be a surprise at all if he ended up taking a regular turn on defense and contends for the Rookie of the Year award. Hamilton has the size at 6'4" and 193 pounds to be a stalwart defensive player, but at this point his offensive game seems like it is more developed than his defensive game.
The Bruins have struggled on the power play and Hamilton appears to have the kind of skill set to upgrade the power play right away. He is a skilled skater and puck carrier.
The Bruins have high hopes that Hamilton can join the team's long line of stellar defensemen that includes Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, Eddie Shore, Zdeno Chara and Brad Park.
Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils
It would be fair to say that Adam Henrique was an impact rookie for the New Jersey Devils last year. He had 16 goals and 35 assists during the regular season and continued to contribute during the playoffs. He added five goals and eight assists during New Jersey's postseason run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
However, much more is going to be expected this year from Henrique. When Zach Parise signed a free-agent contract with the Minnesota Wild, it left a huge scoring void for the Devils. Henrique has the tools and talents to make up for that loss. Instead of scoring 15 to 20 goals, look for Henrique to become a 30-plus goal scorer.
Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers
Couturier is going to have to step up for the Flyers in his second year. When Philadelphia sent talented forward James van Riemsdyk to Toronto for defenseman Luke Schenn, it was indicative of the team's confidence in Couturier.
As a rookie, Couturier scored 13 goals and 14 assists and was plus-18 during the regular season. Couturier certainly showed that he could play and that he belonged in the NHL, but now he must show that he can be more than a role player. Look for Couturier to emerge and become a player who approaches 30 goals this year.
Slava Voynov, Los Angeles Kings
Voynov had a fine rookie season with the Los Angeles Kings. He was a factor on the offensive end, contributing eight goals and 12 assists and he held his own defensively as well. Voynov was plus-12 during the regular season.
Voynov is a lot more than a second-year player heading into the 2012-13 season. He took a regular shift throughout the postseason and playing for the Stanley Cup winners has helped him develop into a more complete and confident player.
Voynov is tough and strong at 5'11", 195 pounds and should become one of the team's top defensemen this season.
Ben Bishop, Ottawa Senators
Bishop has the ability and skills to develop into a top-flight NHL goaltender this season. Bishop played 10 games for the Senators last season and had a 2.48 goals against average and stopped .909 percent of the shots he faced.
Bishop is a huge man at 6'7" and 215 pounds. By positioning himself well, he covers a lot of the net. However, he has excellent reflexes for a man his size. As soon as he gets comfortable taking a regular turn in the net, he has a chance to become a consistent goalie.