9.10.2008

Who's performance do you look forward to?

Of course, most people say, Vinny Lecavalier, Jarome Iginla, Sid the Kid, or Ovie when they asked which player will have an amazing season.

You would have been hard-pressed to find someone who expected Brad Boyes to score 40+ goals, or that Tobias Enstrom would be Atlanta's top defenseman.

So this year, how about a little random guessing at the next breakout guys? No, I won't use the same examples as www.nhl.com, although I decided to write this article because of that.

Breakout Forward 08-09:
(Drum roll, please.....*ahem*, I said drum roll, please....oh, forget it)

Dan Fritsche!
Not kidding! Seriously, the guy could do great in New York with the right amount of ice time. In Columbus, he managed 22 points in 69 games last season. He put up similar numbers in 06-07 as well.
Obviously, the Blue Jackets aren't exactly the cream of the crop when it comes to producing top scorers, Rick Nash and possibly Nikita Filatov being the only exceptions.
However, I can see a lot of potential in Fritsche. If he can be placed on a line with Petr Prucha, and maybe Ryan Callahan, that could be a scary trio. I'm guessing 15-32-47 for the former Blue Jacket.

Breakout Defensman 08-09:
(Forget drum rolls...)

Steve Wagner!

Now, I'm basing this on purely guessing, with a little of potential involved. I see Wagner as becoming a Tobias Enstrom of sorts, or at least a Ville Koistinen. He came up to the NHL having been a strong WCHA defender, but with only 14 games of AHL experience. He still managed a respectable 2 goals and 8 points in 24 games, but was sent back to the AHL in January. This year though, the Blues don't to seem to have many blue-line locks beyond Erik Johnson, Jay McKee, and Eric Brewer. Although he'll have to fight Jeff Woywitka, Andy Wozniewski, and Alex Pietrangelo for playing time, he could learn a lot from playing alongside Brewer or McKee.


(Speaking of young Blues defensemen, wouldn't prospect Alex Hellstrom be perfect for so many nicknames? And just think of the commentary potential: "Young number __ out there is so practiced at giving opposing forwards a hell-strom of a time getting to the net." That's just plain awesome, thought I should mention that.)

Breakout Goaltender 08-09:

Mike Smith!

The former Dallas back-up had a rough introdruction to Tampa, going 3-10, but at that point, Tampa already knew they would be getting Steven Stamkos in the draft. However, Stamkos wasn't the only high-end addition to the Lightning. Radim Vrbata, Ryan Malone, and Vinny Prospal were among several huge improvements to a Tampa Bay team that should have one heck of a turnaround.



Well, that'll be all for that article. Comment and let me know which players you think are going to have a great season!