NHL Stock Market: 15 Players That Will See Production Rise in 2011-2012
NHL players, in many ways, are like stocks. Some you get cheap and they pay off big, some are steady producers and continue to climb and others rebound from rough starts only to perform big in the end.
Like stocks, NHL players stock rise for many reasons.
They could be young guys just entering their prime set to make themselves household names for years to come.
Others may be good players who got traded or signed deals with new teams that will accentuate their skills.
Some are veterans who are rebounding from injuries or other distractions.
Here are 15 notable guys who are poised to have their production rise during the 2011-2012 season.
Who's stock are you riding in 2011? Be sure to let the world know in the comments section.
15. Joel Ward
During this year’s free agent frenzy the Capitals were one of the busiest teams in the league. One move that didn’t grab huge headlines but could pay off was the signing of Joel Ward.
There is some worry that the Capitals paid Ward for his 2010-2011 playoff performance and not his regular season history.
There may be some truth to this.
Ward scored 13 points in 12 playoff games last season, making a huge impression on the league. That scoring explosion was unprecedented in his career as he has never hit the 40 point mark during any NHL season.
So why should he be expected to produce more in 2011?
Simply put, he is on a team that is loaded with offensive talent.
Ward showed in that playoff run that he has scoring ability, an ability that has been buried playing for the Predators, where offense was often a secondary worry.
Ward will now play with players who can score, and his stock will rise because of it.
14. Evander Kane
Taken fourth overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft Evander Kane made the Thrashers roster his first year. In his rookie season he showed the speed, grit and scoring touch that made him a star in juniors.
Coming into his third year in the NHL the 20 year-old is a star player in the making.
Last season, despite some minor injuries, Kane saw his point total nearly double going from 26 points to 43.
These are reasons Winnipeg Jets fans can be excited by what’s on the ice.
Kane has already stated how excited and motivated he is to play in a Canadian hockey market and if he gets to play alongside captain Andrew Ladd he should benefit and see those goal and point totals soar.
13. Tomas Vokoun
After two early playoff exits and somewhat of a revolving door in their crease the Capitals signed the veteran Vokoun this off season in a move meant to win now.
Vokoun has long been an upper echelon goaltender in the NHL, but he has been doomed to losing teams.
So while it is hard to imagine that he will see a bump in his .922 save percentage from last year there most certainly will be a huge jump from his 22 and 28 record last season.
For that reason alone Vokoun will be a rising stock in the NHL this year.
12. John Tavares
Tavares, the number one pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, has been quietly making headway in Long Island since joining the Islanders. While not a household name yet, he is on his way.
The 21 year-old centre has seen his goal and point totals rise in each of his two seasons in the NHL. As he enters his third year expect those numbers to rise again.
It’s not without reason to expect Tavares can push the 40 goal mark, after all, he once potted 72 in the OHL. Playing alongside another young sniper in Michael Grabner, Tavares could push towards the 100 point mark this season and for many more to come.
Will it be enough to make the Islanders contenders? That remains to be seen.
11. Alex Edler
Edler has been on the brink of becoming a top tier defenseman for a couple of years now.
That ascent was slowed down last season with a back injury that caused him to miss nearly 30 games in the second half of last season.
Despite that loss of games he still managed 8 goals and 33 points. Prior to that his point totals had increased each year in the league.
With Christian Erhoff leaving Vancouver for greener pastures Edler, and his rocket slap-shot, is set to take over the number one power play point spot. Teaming with the Sedins and Ryan Kesler look for him to hit career totals in goals and points this season.
10. James Van Riemsdyk
The 22 year-old Van Riemsdyk seems to have been born to be a Philadelphia Flyer. At 6’3” tall and over 200 pounds he is the picture of a power forward.
Van Riemsdyk is just coming into his own and tallied a career high 21 regular season goals in 2010-2011. Not bad for a second year player.
His real coming out party happened in the playoffs where he scored seven goals in only 11 games.
With Mike Richards and Jeff Carter shipped out of town the Flyers will need guys like Van Riemsdyk to step up and pick up the offensive slack. After what had to be a confidence boosting playoff run, Van Riemsdyk is prepared to do just that.
9. Brent Burns
The San Jose Sharks, desperate to find a puck moving defenseman, acquired Burns via a trade this off-season and big things should be expected out of him.
Playing for a pretty punch-less Minnesota Wild, Burns scored a career high 17 goals and 46 points in 2010-2011.
Now he moves to a team loaded with goal scorers.
Expect Burns to be a force on the Sharks already potent power play and with the likes of Thornton and Marleau up front Burns could, and should, best those career high numbers.
8. Steve Stamkos
Stamkos is a scary player. That is, if your team is facing him. He is only 21 years-old and already has three NHL season under his belt and 100 goals.
He is the definition of a sniper.
The scary part is that he hasn’t hit his prime yet.
Lightning fans fretted this offseason when contract negotiations took longer than expected, but the franchise stepped up and committed to their shining star to the tune of five-years and $37.5 million.
As Martin St. Louis ages, Stamkos will become the leader and face of the franchise. Despite all his goal scoring success Stamkos has yet to break the 100 point mark, or lead the league in scoring.
He is a threat to do both this year, as long as there is no EA Sports NHL '12 game jinx.
7. James Reimer
How long has it been since the Toronto Maple Leafs have had consistent goal tending? Probably the same amount of time it’s been since Toronto was a playoff threat.
The Maple Leafs called James Reimer up in December of last year and watched him play marvelously in net. He ended up starting 37 games, posted 20 wins with an impressive save percentage of .921.
Toronto thought enough of him to ink him for three more years, hoping, praying he can give them steady goaltending.
Look for Reimer to be Toronto’s number one guy this year, which will see his win total sky rocket.
6. Claude Giroux
Giroux’s coming out party for the Flyers was two years ago during their Stanley Cup Finals run. In those 23 playoff games the young forward scored 10 goals and 21 points, not bad for a young player.
Last year he hit career marks in goals (25) and assists (51) and is on his way to becoming a super star.
With the Flyers shipping out Carter and Richards, Giroux now needs to step up and be the offensive leader for Philadelphia. Still only 23 years old he seems perfectly equipped to do so.
He will lead the Flyers in scoring and could push the 90 point mark in 2011-2012.
5. Andrew Ladd
It seems almost impossible that Andrew Ladd, who is only 25 years-old, has his name on the Stanley Cup twice.
Impossible, but true.
Up until last season Ladd was a bottom of the rotation, gritty sand paper guy, but when Chicago unloaded him to Atlanta he blossomed into an offensive leader.
With the Thrashers he scored a career high 29 goals and 59 points. Still young, and now a front line leader expect Ladd’s numbers and production to rise in 2011-2012.
He will become the first star of the new Winnipeg Jets and could push up into the 70 point range this season.
4. Rick Nash
Rick Nash is one of the NHL’s greatest kept secrets. A great player who has played for a lousy team his entire career.
Rick Nash is the Columbus Blue Jackets and so far the only reason you would want to watch them.
He has scored 30 or more goals in six of his eight NHL seasons, and he’s done that with mediocre, at best, line-mates.
To the Blue Jackets credit, they went out this offseason and picked up Jeff Carter from Philadelphia to play with their star and hopefully make a playoff run.
Whether that move is enough to get Columbus in the playoffs remains to be seen, but without a doubt the presence of Carter should translate into Nash having a career year.
3. Matt Duchene
Duchene burst onto the NHL scene in 2009-2010 scoring 24 goals in his rookie season for Colorado. He was a big part in the Avalanche surprise season that saw them make the playoffs.
Last year Colorado regressed as a team, but Duchene was a bright spot by improving his offensive output to 27 goals and 67 points.
The young Avalanche still have some mountain to climb but expect Duchene to continue to shine and solidify himself as an NHL all-star.
He should easily be able to elevate himself into a 70 point player in 2011.
2. Nicklas Backstrom
Nicklas Backstrom had a monster season in 2009-2010 scoring 33 goals and 101 points. Those numbers represented career highs after two progressively improving seasons.
Something happened last year as Backstrom slipped to 18 goals and 65 points, the points being his career low.
The Capitals as a whole saw their goal scoring decline as the team focused more on defense. That new found defensive love still did not translate into playoff success however and you can expect the team to put a little more focus on goal scoring.
Backstrom will be at the center of that. He has too much talent to only score 18 goals and 65 points.
While he may not hit the high water mark of two season ago, look for Backstrom to rebound back to respectability.
1. Anze Kopitar
Playing on the West Coast Anze Kopitar may be a mystery to many eastern hockey fans. They know his name and that he is a good player, but that is where most of the knowledge ends.
Kopitar is on the verge of changing that.
Coming off an injury plagued end to his 2010-2011 season, Kopitar saw his point total dip slightly. Healthy now and with a loaded team Kopitar is poised for a monster season.
The Kings have been on the verge of greatness the past couple of seasons and appear ready to make a serious run. Anze Kopitar will be leading that surge.
It will be no surprise to see Kopitar finally push for the league scoring title in 2011.