Every year in the NHL we see a handful of young forwards have their breakout seasons, some expected, some unexpected.
Last year we saw forwards like David Krejci of the Boston Bruins, Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks, Bryan Little of the Atlanta Thrashers, among others, enjoy breakout years.
When I project which players I think will have breakout seasons, I base it on four things:
The first thing I look at is the player's overall potential. This is the most important attribute to look at because if players have little to no potential of being a solid player, you're just shooting in the dark if you are predicting a breakout season for them.
The second thing I look at is how well a player finished off his last season. I've noticed through the years that when younger players finish the season strong, this indicates bigger and better things for them next season.
The third thing I look at is how well a player played in the playoffs (if they had the opportunity). Players proving they can step up in the playoffs early in their career gives them confidence and a huge kick to their career.
The fourth and final thing I look at is the player's opportunity. Will this player I'm evaluating be playing a big enough role to warrant his breakout year?
In my opinion, those are all really important things you have to look at when evaluating a breakout season for young players.
My early evaluation consists of 10 forwards I believe could be on the verge of breakout seasons in 2009-2010.