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Top 20 NHL Players Poised for Breakout Seasons

As younger players develop, fans and management often await their "breakout year," in which they transform from a prospect or player with potential to a talented NHL player. A breakout season does not mean a player has hit their prime, but does prove that, in their prime, they may, or will, reach the expectations placed upon them. A breakout season can mean many things to many players, from a significant increase in goals or points to the development of a more consistent and well-rounded playing style to a league-wide recognition of their talent and importance. In any case, a breakout season catapults a prospect or young player from a question mark or fringe player on an NHL team to a important player or even core member of a franchise going forward. While they may cause contract problems further down the line, any NHL GM would unquestionably rather struggle with how to pay a young and immensely talented player than with the problem of replacing a young player who never reached their potential.

This group of twenty NHL players, none of whom are true rookies, having played in the NHL before, are my choices to be this season's breakout players. With three goalies, seven forwards and ten defensemen, the list contains some risk, as defensemen are often the most difficult to gauge in their development. Prospect development is far from a science, however, a fact constantly proven by the number of prospects selected with high draft picks who fail to become top players or, in some cases, to even make it to the NHL. No matter what happens to these twenty players this season, 2014-2015 will undoubtedly stand as an important season in each of their careers.

20 Tyler Myers (Buffalo)

via wgrz.com

19 Ryan Murphy (Carolina)

via toomanymenonthesite.com

18 P.A. Parenteau (Montreal)

via 25stanley.com

17 Boone Jenner (Columbus)

via bluejacketsxtra.dispatch.com

16 Simon Despres (Pittsburgh)

via thescore.com

15 Jake Gardiner (Toronto)

via blogs.thescore.com

14 T.J. Brodie (Calgary)

via nyheter24.se

13 Hampus Lindholm (Anaheim)

via espn.go.com

12 Valeri Nichushkin (Dallas)

via starsblog.dallasnews.com

11 Tomas Tatar (Detroit)

via officepools.com

10 Robin Lehner (Ottawa)

via circlingthewagon.wordpress.com

9 Jacob Trouba (Winnipeg)

via xnsports.com

8 Sean Monahan (Calgary)

via metronews.ca

7 Mikael Granlund (Minnesota)

via foxsports.com

6 Travis Hamonic (New York Islanders)

via nypost.com

5 Dougie Hamilton (Boston)

via veooz.com

4 Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis)

via blogs.windsorstar.com

3 Roman Josi (Nashville)

via clarksvillesportsnetwork.com

2 John Gibson (Anaheim)

via prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com

1 Cory Schneider (New Jersey)

via hockeyordie.com

With Brodeur out of the picture, Schneider is firmly established as the full-time starter, as neither Scott Clemmensen nor Keith Kinkaid seem capable of causing a Luongo/Schneider or Schneider/Brodeur-type controversy. New Jersey has a team that will surprise a lot of people, and I think they will make the playoffs, in large part because of Schneider. He has repeatedly proven he has the talent to break out as an elite NHL goaltender. With the opportunity now laid out before him, all he has to do is seize it and play as well as he is capable of over an 82 game season. Schneider's breakout season should be all but assured, making him the clear choice as the number one pick on this list.

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Top 20 NHL Players Poised for Breakout Seasons