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