Every year, there are a handful of players that breakout in the NHL. Last season we saw players like William Karlsson, Sean Couturier, and Yanni Gourde set new career highs.
Here is a look at five players with the potential to have a breakout season in 2018/19.
Jake DeBrusk - Boston Bruins
As a rookie in the NHL Jake DeBrusk put up pretty decent numbers, scoring 16 goals and 43 points in 70 games for the Boston Bruins.
He was the seventh highest scorer on a veteran-filled Boston Bruins’ team. But over the course of the season, we saw DeBrusk gradually take on a bigger role. The 21-year-old came up big for the Bruins during the playoffs, chipping in six goals in 12 games.
With players like Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Krejci getting older Boston will likely continue to expand DeBrusk’s role on the team’s offense.
As result, this will give him a great opportunity to top his rookie numbers from a season ago. Frankly speaking, a 20-goal, 55 point season should be a realistic goal for DeBrusk heading into 2018/19.
Casey Mittelstadt - Buffalo Sabres
Casey Mittelstadt was one of the more highly touted prospects in the 2017 draft. After spending most of last season in college, it looks like the former eighth overall pick is ready to move his talents to the NHL next season.
It was a small sample size, but he looked NHL-ready in the six games he appeared in for the Sabres. Buffalo made some big moves this summer and moved out center Ryan O'Reilly. This clears up the second-line center spot for Mittelstadt and should be his spot to lose coming out of training camp.
The Sabres are high on Mittelstadt and expect him to be a key contributor behind Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner this season. There will likely be growing pains and cold streaks, but Mittelstadt is an electric offensive player.
So a 20 goal, 50 point rookie campaign should be a reasonable goal for him to reach.
Rasmus Dahlin - Buffalo Sabres
Rasmus Dahlin is another high-end prospect joining the Buffalo Sabres this season. Many people have labeled him as a generational talent and a franchise-changing defenseman.
No doubt, he should be able to come in and change the complexion of the Sabres’ defense. He should be an immediate contributor and could see close to 20 minutes a night.
At this point, the numbers shouldn't be the biggest concern, if Dahlin is able to chip in 40-45 points as a rookie then the Sabres will likely be one of the most improved teams in the east next year. This could possibly help them become a playoff team for the first time in seven seasons.
Nolan Patrick - Philadelphia Flyers
Nolan Patrick did not have the most impressive rookie season (30 points in 70 games) but from what we saw last year, the talent is there. With a season of experience under his belt, we should see a more confident player in 2018/19.
With Claude Giroux likely playing on the wing for most of the year, Nolan looks like he could be the team’s second-line center this year. With top-six minutes and time on the powerplay, one must like his chances of setting new career-highs.
At this point, it is uncertain how high Patrick’s offensive ceiling is in the NHL. Conservatively speaking, an 18 goal 45 point season should be the type of numbers he can put up next year but don’t be surprised to see Patrick surpass the 50-point plateau.
Vladislav Namestnikov - New York Rangers
Vladislav Namestnikov was part of the blockbuster trade that sent Ryan McDonagh to Tampa last season. With the Rangers going through a major rebuild, they aren’t a particularly deep team, this should give a player like Namestnikov the opportunity to be a big part of the offense.
Namestnikov has a career-high of 20 goals and 44 points, so he has shown that he can score at the NHL level. But playing in New York this season, instead of being the fourth or fifth option, he will likely become pushed to the forefront in New York.
Subsequently, he might be able to surprise some people and hit the 25-goal plateau for the first time in his career.
Who do you think will have the best breakout-season this year? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to give us a follow on Twitter by searching (VAVELNHL_ENG).