The 8 NHL Players Poised to Breakout in 2010-2011

Faiz-Ali VirjiCorrespondent IAugust 31, 2010

The 8 NHL Players Poised to Breakout in 2010-2011

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    Every year there is talk about which players will breakout this season into a point-per-game player, or a number one defenceman or starting goalie. And every year, there are the ones everyone predicted, the ones who dissapointed and the ones who came out of nowhere.

    This list is trying to predict which ten players will breakout this season.

Ales Hemsky

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    Hemsky has been mentioned on these list since he first "brokeout" in 2005-06 with 77 points in 81 games. Many expected the young star to soon break the 80 point plateau, and maybe even the 90.

    Alas, that has yet to happen, as the closest he has gotten to the 77 is 71 points in 74 games in 2007-2008. However, the improvement is there, having put up a career high in goals in 2008-2009 with 23, and potting 22 points in only 22 games last season. Many believe that had he not been injured, last year would have finally been the year.

    Coming off a major shoulder injury is no laughing matter however, and it may slow Hemsky down. But with a rejuvenated Dustin Penner and up and comers like Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and 1st overall pick Taylor Hall, this could be the year.

    Prediction:

    GP: 80 G: 25 A: 60 P: 85

Nathan Horton

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    Expectations have been sky-high for Horton ever since he was drafted 3rd overall in 2003, one of the deepest drafts of all time. While he has put up respectable numbers, including a career high of 62 points twice, he has yet to put up numbers that many believed he could.

    Last season he may have showed he could do it, putting up 57 points in only 65 games, prorated to 72 points in 82 games. The biggest help to him will be his trade from the Florida Panthers, a franchise that seems to be wallowing with the departures of Roberto Luongo, Jay Bouwmeester and Olli Jokinen, to the Boston Bruins, a team who seems ready to win, except they couldn't score last year. Horton should slide right into the first line RW position with Marc Savard and Milan Lucic, and that should definitely help the winger reach, at minimum, the 70 point plateau.

    Prediction:

    GP: 75 G: 35 A: 37 P: 72

Brandon Dubinsky

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    Dubinsky came onto the NHL scene in 2007-08 with 40 points and looked to be a burgeoning 2nd line centre.  His second season was ok, as he notched 41 points, but his plus-minus dropped from +8 to -6, not a terrible sophomore slump though.

    Last season, Dubinsky posted a career high in goals, 20, and points, 44 in only 69 games. This season, Dubinsky could potentially be the 1st line center for the Rangers, in between the dynamic Marian Gaborik and Vaclav Prospal. If that situation arises, look for Dubinsky to push the 60 point plateau.

    Prediction:

    GP: 82 G: 25 A: 30 P: 55

Milan Michalek

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    Michalek was the centre-piece of the Dany Heatley trade and many expected him to step in last year and post at least 60 points on the top line with Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson. Injuries played a role, however, and Michalek only managed 34 points in 66 games, although 22 of those points were goals.

    Michalek does have some competition with Peter Regin, who seemed to have some chemistry with Spezza and Alfredsson as the season wore on, but he will still play a significant role with the Sens this season. If he can get healthy, he can for sure reach the 66 points he potted in 2006-2007 with the Sharks, and possibly break 30 goals.

    Prediction:

    GP: 77 G: 30 A: 35 P: 65

Claude Giroux

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    Giroux put up a respectable 47 points last year in his first complete season, but the reason to believe he will break out this year lies in his playoff performance as the Flyers went to the Stanley Cup Finals. Giroux posted an amazing 21 points in 23 games during the playoff run, cementing himself as a fan favourite in Philly.

    Entering this season, Giroux will most likely be moved to the wing so that he can play in the top 6, as Philly has way too many centres of top 6 quality in Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Daniel Briere. A move into the top 6 will prove huge for Giroux, and look for him to breakout with the extra time.

    Prediction:

    GP: 82 G: 25 A: 40 P: 65

Jordan Staal

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    The third Staal brother burst onto the scene in 2006-2007 with 29 goals as an 18 year old, including 7 shorthanded. Many were expecting great things for him, but being stuck as the third line centre behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin meant less offensive ice time for Staal, which lead to less points. The last two seasons he has had a career high 49 points, with 22 and 21 goals respectively. Not bad, but not what most were expecting out of a 2nd overall pick. Staal`s defensive game has become well-known, however, as he shut down many of the opponents top lines on the way to a Stanley Cup in 2009.

    There are rumours that the Penguins will move Staal up to the second line centre position and move Malkin to his wing. If this does transpire, expect to see Staal`s numbers improve drastically.

    Prediction:

    GP: 82 G: 30 A: 30 P: 60

Joe Pavelski

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    `Little Joe` as he is referred to in San Jose, like Clause Giroux, seemed to have a coming out party during the playoffs, posting 17 points in 15 games to lead the Sharks in scoring. While he is still the second line centre behind `Jumbo Joe` he still put up 51 points in only 67 games last season, and should not be surprised to see him pushing 70 this season.

    Prediction:

    GP: 80 G: 30 A: 35 P: 65

TJ Oshie

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    Oshie had a fairly productive rookie season in 2008-09 posting 14 goals and 39 points in only 57 games. Last season, Oshie potted 18 goals and 48 points in 76 games, good for second on the Blues.

    This season, Oshie is 1st on the right wing depth chart for the Blues with David Backes and Andy MacDonald. The Blues are a young emerging team, and Oshie seems to be on the forefront of that for the forward corps, so look for him to breakout this season to a solid 20 goal first line winger.

    Prediction:

    GP: 80 G: 22 A: 35 P: 57