With the start of the 2020-21 NHL season (potentially? hopefully?) just around corner we wanted to take a look at some potential breakout players for the season.
When we say “breakout,” we mean players that have some NHL experience (so no Alexis Lafreniere or Quinton Byfield here), but have also played less than 200 games. We have some sense of what they can do, but they have not fully shown all of their potential.
Here are the players we are keeping an eye on.
Nick Suzuki, Montreal Canadiens
Even though the team itself has been mired in mediocrity for much of his tenure, general manager Marc Bergevin has made a couple of moves that have worked in his favor.
The Max Pacioretty trade is one of those moves.
While Pacioretty is still a star in Vegas, the Canadiens received a bonafide top-line player in Tomas Tatar and a potential star of their own in Suzuki. While Tatar has been great — and maybe should be re-signed — Suzuki is going to be the player that ends up defining this trade. Based on what we saw from him in his debut season a year ago, he is off to a great start.
We saw glimpses of his potential during the regular season when he was one of the top rookie point producers in the league. His 41 points were sixth among all rookies, while he also demonstrated an advanced two-way game and helped tilt the ice in Montreal’s favor in shot attempts and expected goals. It was during the playoffs that he really took a step forward and was one of Montreal’s most effective players in their upset win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as their Second Round matchup against Philadelphia. He was second among forwards in ice-time and finished as the team’s leading goal scorer and point producer.
Robert Thomas, St. Louis Blues
It can be tough for a young player to crack a lineup like the one in St. Louis, but Thomas has played a fairly sizable role over his first two years and has probably shown that he is ready for an even bigger role.
How good has he been?