There is something about your team finding the next breakout star that makes sports worth watching even if your team is going through a down period. Rosters and teams are generally structured based on known commodities and perceived potential, but every now and again a player will come out of literally nowhere to shock and awe and become a key component of what a team is trying to do.
Such players can come from a number of different avenues. One of the most obvious is a late round draft pick who, either in their rookie year or after a couple of seasons, smashes through the ceiling of their potential rating. The iconic example of this is Tom Brady in the NFL, a sixth round draft pick who has gone on to be a multiple time regular season and Super Bowl MVP. Another avenue is the journeyman player who bounces around a league before finding the right fit, the right coaching and the right situation to heavily increase their stat line as their play level increases.
The best teams are the teams who are able, by luck or by judgement, consistently stumble upon this kind of player. The beauty of such a player is they are generally working for very little (relatively) money. Of course that can change quickly, and it is always amazing how many of these players have their breakout seasons during a contract year, but a couple of solid break out players can certainly help push a team up a level or two in the standings.
In the NHL during the 2014-15 season there were a number of players who broke out and delivered performances the like of which we had not seen from them before. These players, who started the season under the radar, are now guys who will be boosted up fantasy draft boards and who will be expected to produce at an even higher level next season.
Here is a list of the top 10 breakout stars of the NHL season:
10 Johnny Gaudreau – Calgary Flames
9 Aaron Ekblad – Florida Panthers
8 John Carlson – Washington Capitals
7 Braden Holtby – Washington Capitals
6 Tyler Johnson – Tampa Bay Lightning
5 Jiri Hudler – Calgary Flames
4 Nick Foligno – Columbus Blue Jackets
3 Filip Forsberg – Nashville Predators
2 Jakub Voracek – Philadelphia Flyers
1 Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko is another player who came into the 2014-15 season in white hot form. What seperates Tarasenko from his rivals for this number one sport on our list is that unlike the others he did not fade as the grind of a full NHL season began to take its toll. Tarasenko was the 16th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, so his credentials were a known commodity. During the 2013-14 campaign, his first full season at this level, he was able to muster a respectable 43 points. This season though he blew that total out of the water, scoring 73 points including 37 goals. In the Blues' first round series loss to Minnesota, he added six goals and an assist, including a hat trick in Game 2. At 23 years old, but with tons of minor league experience, Tarasenko is going to be an NHL star for the considerable future.
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