A Scoring Avalanche: Five Colorado Players Who Could Have a Breakthrough Season

Lewis Hughes@lah_8Contributor IIISeptember 4, 2010

A Scoring Avalanche: Five Colorado Players Who Could Have a Breakthrough Season

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    SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 14:  Chris Stewart #25 of the Colorado Avalanche celebrates with teammate T.J. Galiardi #39 after scoring the game winning goal against the San Jose Sharks  in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanl
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Every season there are a number of players who up their game. They produce beyond expectations and usually end up having very productive careers. 

    Whether it's scoring 100 points, putting up 50 assists, or leading the league in save percentage, an NHL team usually has a least one player per season who ends up in the spotlight.

    Last Season, the Avs' break-out player was Chris Stewart (pictured left, who put up 28 goals and 64 points).

    After a very successful season which included a trip to the playoffs, the Colorado Avalanche are looking to continue their winning streak and here are five players who could help them by having a breakthrough season.

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Peter Mueller

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 21:  Peter Mueller #88 of the Colorado Avalanche skates during warm-up prior to their NHL game against the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center on March 21, 2010 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    Brought to the Avs in the trade that sent Wojtek Wolski to Phoenix, Mueller quickly filled the Avalanche's desperate need for a left-winger and impressively stepped onto the top line, scoring 20 points in his first 15 games.

    With some solid playing time with Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk already under his belt, chemistry shouldn't be an issue, and Mueller could easily put up 60-75 points next season with help from his first-line teammates.

T.J. Galiardi

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    SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 14:  T.J. Galiardi #39 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on April 14, 2010 in S
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Alongside line-mates Matt Duchene and Chris Stewart, TJ Galiardi has quickly established himself as one of the top young forwards in the league.

    After making the team's opening night roster last season, Galiardi has quickly come into his known especially with his passing and creative skills on the ice, which is a perfect compliment to Duchene and Stewart.

    After registering 39 points in 70 games last season, expect Galiardi to up his points total to between 50-60 points whilst supplying Duchene and Stewart with plenty of goal chances.

Ryan O'Reilly

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    DENVER - MARCH 24:  Ryan O'Reilly #37 of the Colorado Avalanche takes a shot against the Los Angeles Kings during NHL action at the Pepsi Center on March 24, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Kings 4-3 in an overtime shootout.  (Photo b
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Considered by many to be the steal of the 2009 draft after being taken by the Avs in the second round, Ryan O'Reilly has managed to give Colorado a very reliable defensive center.

    Mainly used on the penalty kill, O'Reilly is a solid penalty killer with a very tough mindset and good leadership skills but he also has a good offensive upside as he scored 26 points last season.

    Whilst he may not be the most prolific scorer, O'Reilly, with more minutes should get between 30-40 points this season, but his biggest contribution will be on the defensive side and come the end of the season, O'Reilly may just be a Frank J. Selke pick.

Brandon Yip

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 13:  Brandon Yip #59 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on February 13, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Despite playing in only 32 games last season for a number of reasons, Brandon Yip turned many heads.

    Yip had 19 points in 32 games, and showed himself to be good with his hands whilst also being a good scorer and skater and lead all NHL rookies in goals-per-game average with .169.

    Partnered with Ryan O'Reilly (see last side), Yip should get many more minutes this season, which will give him a chance to showcase his skills and he will make the opening night roster.

    With a full season and more minutes, 50 points isn't out of the question.

Matt Duchene

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    DENVER - JANUARY 16:  Matt Duchene #9 of the Colorado Avalanche controls the puck against Rod Pelley #10 of the New Jersey Devils during NHL action at the Pepsi Center on January 16, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Devils 3-1.  (Photo
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    I'm sure you are all wondering how a Calder trophy finalist could be on course for a breakout season?

    Well, let me explain.

    Whilst Duchene was a major part of the Avs success last season and is seen as the next franchise player, or the next Joe Sakic (sorry, Paul Stastny), Duchene is still only 19 and is still growing as a player.

    Duchene has unbelievable offensive upside and potinetial whilst also being a hybrid of a scorer and a playmaker.

    I see this season (with some help from Chris Stewart and TJ Galiardi) as being a Steve Stamkos-type season, where Duchene could quite easily become an 80-point player. Yet, with Duchene's potential, he could even score 90 points. 

    Next season Duchene could REALLY break out.