Fantasy Hockey Breakout Candidates from All 32 Teams

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      There may be nothing better than unearthing a breakout in your Fantasy Hockey draft or on the waiver wire. Drafting Nazem Kadri and/or Chris Kreider in the late rounds last year was fantasy gold, and we’re here to help you find those players for 2022-23.

      Managing Fantasy Editor Brock Seguin and Fantasy Analyst Michael Bondy took a look at all 32 teams and picked one potential breakout from each squad.

      Anaheim Ducks – Frank Vatrano

      Vatrano is a player that has routinely scored goals in the NHL despite every playing significant minutes. We saw a little bit of what he could do in an elevated role following his trade to New York last season, scoring eight goals with five assists (13 points) in 22 games while playing a career-high 15:18 ATOI. This offseason, he signed a three-year, $3.65M AAV deal with the Ducks, becoming their fourth-highest paid forward. He should land in Anaheim’s top-6 and play on a line with Trevor Zegras (which would be great for obvious reasons) or Ryan Strome, with whom he has some chemistry from his time in New York. Given his impressive shot volume (10.4 SOG/60), it seems pretty likely that Vatrano could push for 30 goals this season if he plays closer to 16 or 17 minutes per night. – Brock Seguin

      Arizona Coyotes – Barrett Hayton

      Off the back of Nick Schmaltz’s 59-point (23G/36A) breakout in 2021-22, the Coyotes will be hoping another top prospect in Barrett Hayton, takes a similar leap forward in 2022-23 as he enters his fourth NHL season. Fresh off a disappointing 24-point campaign in 2021-22, which saw him collect only 82 shots while amassing 16:07 TOI nightly, Hayton will be looking to prove what made the Coyotes take him No.5 overall back in the 2018 entry draft as he attempts to work his way up their weak lineup. If the 22-year-old can find himself on PP1 and in the Coyotes’ top-6 he may be worth keeping an eye on, but for now, he makes one of the weaker breakout candidates on this whole list as we wait for him to increase his shot volume. Hayton could very well be the surprise piece that finally helps improve on Arizona’s league-worst 206 Goals For from a season ago, but until that happens, no one outside the Coyote’s top line is worth fantasy rostering. – Michael Bondy

      Boston Bruins – Jeremy Swayman

      Swayman’s first 51 career regular-season appearances (49 starts) have been terrific. Of the goalies with at least 50 appearances over the last two seasons, Swayman ranks first in GAA (2.23) and tied for fourth in SV% (.920) while going 30-17-3. The only thing holding Swayman back from becoming a fantasy star is Linus Ullmark. The duo split starts evenly in 2021-22, and the same could happen this season. However, Ullmark struggled mightily in the postseason, so maybe they will lean on Swayman a little more heavily this season? Either way, he’s a great fantasy selection, but if he ends up starting 50-plus games, he’ll be fantasy gold. – Brock Seguin

      Buffalo Sabres – Jack Quinn

      Making both a Calder and breakout candidate in 2022-23, Jack Quinn enters the season deservedly one of few rookies on fantasy draft radars. Selected No.8 overall in 2020, Quinn joins the Sabres with a realistic shot to end up in that electric top-six to open the season as he looks to build off an impressive 61 points (26G / 35A) in 45 games with Rochester (AHL) in 2021-22. He’s been skating on the top line with Tage Thompson in recent practices, suggesting he could have a big role right away. Quinn is someone to take a flier on late in drafts and a terrific dynasty option who will look to accomplish his breakout in his first NHL season. – Michael Bondy

      Calgary Flames – Tyler Toffoli

      Toffoli has been around for a long time. He’s been in the league since 2013 and has 651 career NHL games under his belt. However, he has just one 30-plus goal season (2016) and one 50-plus point season (2016), so consider this a re-breakout. Since that season, he’s averaged 24 goals and 25 assists (49 points) per 82 games. During training camp, Toffoli is skating on the Flames’ top line with Elias Lindholm and Jonathan Huberdeau. This gives him the best opportunity of his career to play big minutes with elite players, making a career-best year very likely. It doesn’t hurt that head coach Darryl Sutter loves Toffoli. – Brock Seguin

      Carolina Hurricanes – Seth Jarvis

      Jarvis enjoyed a solid rookie season but didn’t start playing a significant role until March. He took off in his final 24 games, scoring nine goals with 12 assists (21 points). He was also outstanding in the playoffs, posting eight points (3G / 5A) across 14 games. That 38-game stretch should be a good baseline for what to expect from Jarvis in 2022-23. Over 82 games, it would translate to 25 goals and 35 assists while playing just 15:00 ATOI. Like the end of last season, he’s been skating on the top line with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen in training camp, a spot you’d expect Jarvis to play big minutes. It seems like a usage boost is all Jarvis needs to become a 30-goal, 40-assist player as soon as 2022-23. – Brock Seguin

      Chicago Blackhawks – Taylor Raddysh

      Entering 2022-23, Few players seem to benefit from Chicago’s offseason roster overhaul Raddysh. The subtraction of two key top-6 players means someone has to step in and fill the high-end minutes, and who else than a 24-year-old right winger? Currently projected to line up on the second line with Jonathan Toews and on the top power-play unit, Raddysh will be looking to unlock some of the potential that saw him post 109 points in 58 OHL games before being drafted in the second round 2016. With limited competition throughout the Blackhawks roster, he could be in for a massive increase in his 12:20 TOI from a season ago. A 2022-23 breakout may still see Raddysh on the outside of fantasy relevance, but for the time being, he makes a name to keep an eye on. – Michael Bondy

      Colorado Avalanche – Artturi Lehkonen

      Lehkonen was dealt to the Avalanche at the 2021-22 trade deadline, enjoying success with the new club, scoring eight goals in 20 playoff games and winning his first Stanley Cup. With Gabriel Landeskog set to miss the start of the season for an unspecified amount of time, Lehkonen finds himself skating on the top line alongside superstars Nathan Mackinnon (88 pts in 65 GP) and Mikko Rantanen (92 pts in 75 GP). The 27-year-old will likely also find himself occupying the Avalanche’s coveted top power-play spot to start the season, a unit that finished seventh in the league in power-play percentage (24%). He is a sneaky pick with little risk at the bottom of fantasy rosters as he finds himself entrenched in the middle of one of the league’s best offences. He could realistically find himself stuck on the top line if he proves successful early on, even upon the return of Landeskog. He should have no issue surpassing his career highs in goals (19) and points (38). Michael Bondy

      Columbus Blue Jackets – Boone Jenner

      Jenner enters 2022-23 in the best fantasy position he has ever found himself centring 115-point Johnny Gaudreau and point-per-game Patrick Laine (26G/30A in 56 GP) on both the Blue Jackets’ top line and top power-play unit. Lining up alongside two point-per-game players, Jenner will look to return to the 30-goal form he achieved way back in 2015-16 while building off his 49-point career high from the same season. A return to 200-plus shots in 2022-23 could go a long way as Jenner finds himself surrounded by the producers. He proved he could handle more than 20 minutes per night in 2021-22 and should see similar usage with much greater production as he is the clear top centre in Columbus. Jenner makes a sneaky bottom-of-your-roster grab as Gaudreau has routinely turned those around him into viable fantasy assets. – Michael Bondy

      Dallas Stars – Jake Oettinger

      This is a pretty easy pick for the Stars. At this time last season, Oettinger appeared to be No.4 on the depth chart in Dallas with Ben Bishop, Braden Holtby and Anton Khudobin all under contract. However, injuries to the veterans changed things very quickly, leading to Oettinger appearing in 48 games. He was 30-15-1 with a 2.53 GAA and .914 SV%. It was a solid season, but he was brilliant in the postseason, putting up a .954 SV% in seven games. Now he enters 2022-23 as the unquestioned No.1 in Dallas and poised to start 55-plus games for the first time in his career. If you’re drafting Oettinger, you need a breakout because his current ADP (45.7) makes him the No.6 goalie off the board. Brock Seguin

      Detroit Red Wings – Filip Zadina

      Zadina entered the NHL as the No.6 overall pick, having established himself as a great goal-scorer in the QMJHL. However, his scoring touch has not translated to the NHL, as he’s shot just 6.4 percent over the last two seasons. His 2021-22 shot volume (8.8 SOG/60) was the best of his short career and is high enough for him to reach 180-to-200 shots in a middle-6 role. He’s too talented for his conversion rate to remain under seven percent–the NHL average for forwards in 2021-22 was 11.8 percent. That would get Zadina to 20-plus goals, and there would be room for more if he earns a more significant role throughout the season. Brock Seguin

      Edmonton Oilers – Evan Bouchard

      Bouchard had 12 goals with 31 assists (43 points) in 81 games last season. Only 16.3 percent of his point totals came on the power-play, but he could replace Tyson Barrie on the Oilers’ top PP unit with Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Co. in 2022-23. For context, 51.2 percent of Barrie’s points come via the man-advantage. Barrie reportedly has not seen the ice with the top unit during the preseason, suggesting this job is at least up for grabs for Bouchard. With a great shot, Bouchard would be a great fit on one of the league’s top units. If he lands in that role, you could add 20 points to Bouchard’s already strong production. There may not be a player with a more straightforward avenue for a breakout. The ball is in Jay Woodcroft’s court now. Brock Seguin

      Florida Panthers – Gustav Forsling 

      When Jonathan Huberdeau and Mackenzie Weegar were shipped to Calgary in the offseason, it created a glaring hole on the Panthers’ back end as they lost 44 points and 23:22 ATOI with the subtraction of the 28-year-old Weegar. Enter Forsling, who doubled his previous career highs in goals (10) and assists (27) in 2021-22 while filling in for an injured Aaron Ekblad down the stretch. The 26-year-old steps into the Panther’s top pairing fresh off of eight goals and 12 points in the final 14 games of 2022 and is projected to pair up alongside Ekblad and his 0.93 PPG from a season ago. He has already proven he holds double-digit goal potential putting him in the league’s top 25 in the category without averaging more than 21:13 TOI. A minute or two more of ice could go a long way in bringing Forsling’s 145 shots closer to 200 and taking him into the true breakout status. He makes for a sneaky final defenseman on your fantasy team as he is one Ekblad injury away from being the alpha on this blueline. – Michael Bondy

      Los Angeles Kings – Arthur Kaliyev

      Since the Kings already have a deep and established top-6, it’s challenging to identify a breakout on this team. However, Kaliyev’s outstanding shot and elite shot volume stand out. Despite playing under 13 minutes per game (12:39 ATOI), Kaliyev fired nearly 200 shots (194), ranking 15th in the NHL in SOG/60 (11.5). Finding more playing time for Kaliyev with Anze Kopitar and Philip Danault’s lines commanding massive minutes is challenging. Still, even a modest increase would lead to Kaliyev firing 220-plus shots and giving him 25-goal upside. Brock Seguin

      Minnesota Wild – Matt Boldy

      Following a midseason call-up, Boldy registered 39 points (15G / 24A) in 47 games. Over a full 82-game season, he was on pace to lead all rookies in goals (26) and shots (197) and finish second in assists (42). What Boldy lost in Kevin Fiala (traded to Los Angeles), he may gain in Marco Rossi (2020 No.9 overall pick). To help offset any regression that may come with the loss of Fiala can be offset by increased usage, as his 15:23 ATOI has plenty of room to grow. Brock Seguin

      Montreal Canadians – Kirby Dach

      Dach was selected No.3 overall in 2019 by Chicago with expectations that his 129 points in 133 WHL games would translate into immediate NHL success. Four years later, he enters his inaugural campaign with Montreal still yet to surpass the 26-point plateau. At just 21 years old, Dach may follow the mould of early pick, later breakout, as we have seen from superstars like Nathan Mackinnon in the past. He’ll have to fight for minutes with Christian Dvorak and Sean Monahan, but the Canadiens likely didn’t trade for him to bury him on the depth chart. Surrounded by young talent also waiting to break out, Dach is someone to monitor on the waiver wire early in the season. – Michael Bondy

      Nashville Predators – Philip Tomasino

      Like the Kings, it’s difficult to find a breakout on a team filled with veteran talent. However, Tomasino, a first-round pick (No.24 overall) in 2019, seems the most likely candidate to earn a drastic increase in usage. During his rookie season, Tomasino scored 11 goals with 21 assists (32 points) in 76 games, playing almost exclusively on the fourth line (11:32 ATOI). With Luke Kunin now in San Jose, a spot in the Predators’ top-6 is open for Tomasino to play next to Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter. Brock Seguin

      New Jersey Devils – Jack Hughes

      Few players have the potential to make a greater leap in points than Hughes does in 2022-23. Hughes had 56 points (26G / 30A) in just 49 games a season ago, a total that extrapolates to 44 goals and 50 assists (94 points) over 82 games. Hughes has legitimate 100-point potential in year four and should reward those who are taking him in the eighth round (94.8 ADP). – Brock Seguin

      New York Islanders – Noah Dobson

      Dobson got to enjoy a breakout already in 2021-22, finishing ninth in goals (13), 15th in points (51), 7th in game-winning-goals (4), and 17th in shots (190) among defensemen, becoming one of the most valuable waiver wire pickups all year. He enters 2022-23, only 22 years old and looking to break into an even more elite tier of fantasy defenseman and enter the top 15 rankings across the NHL while leading the Islanders’ top power-play. Suppose he can increase his already impressive 190 shots by 40-50 like some of the other elite contributors; we could realistically see Dobson finishing top five in goals for defenders. Having a fellow Islander surpass 60 points in 2022-23 could also help Dobson achieve his true potential. Last year the Islanders’ highest scorer finished with only 59 points making them the second lowest point total of any team leader.  – Michael Bondy

      New York Rangers – Vincent Trocheck

      Every centre that Artemi Panarin has played with has had a career year. Starting with Artem Anisimov in Chicago, Pierre-Luck Dubois in Columbus, and Ryan Strome in New York. With Strome now in Anaheim, Trocheck is the next centre to get a massive boost from playing with Panarin. Sure, he already has a 75-point season, but that was four years, one broken leg, and two teams ago. So, let’s call this a re-breakout. We know exactly what we’ll get from him regarding his role, as he’ll fill in for Strome at 5v5 and on PP1. Expect him to play around 18:15 ATOI, with a 20-goal, 30-assist floor and tremendous upside if he fits seamlessly on Broadway. Brock Seguin

      Ottawa Senators – Tim Stützle

      Stützle enjoyed a strong sophomore season finishing with 58 points (22G / 36A) in 79 games. He gave us a glimpse of his ceiling at the end of last season, as he closed his year out by collecting 37 points (14G / 23A) in his final 41 games. The 20-year-old enters camp with two new wingers, Claude Giroux and Alex Debrincat. Adding a great playmaker and elite goal-scorer should help Stützle increase both his goal and assist totals in year three. If Stützle can continue his power-play success (26 PPP) and rise above 200 shots for the first season in his short career. In that case, he should find himself a lock in nearly all fantasy lineups as he enjoys his breakout into NHL stardom. – Michael Bondy

      Philadelphia Flyers – Morgan Frost

      The Flyers will likely be very bad this year, so finding a breakout isn’t an easy task. Cam York likely would have been the pick if they didn’t bring Tony DeAngelo in via trade. So let’s go with Frost, who should start with a top-6 role to begin the season while Sean Couturier recovers. Frost was a first-round pick in 2017 (No.27 overall) but has just 23 points (7G / 16A) in his first 77 career NHL games. Still, he had back-to-back 100-point seasons in the OHL and was near a point-per-game in the AHL last season, so there’s plenty of offence to be uncovered. He’ll presumably open the season on the second line with James van Riemsdyk and Cam Atkinson, players who have had two 30-plus goal seasons. Frost is a great playmaker that has the chance to rack up assists playing with that duo early in the season. Brock Seguin

      Pittsburgh Penguins – Rickard Rakell

      Like Trocheck, this is more of a “re-breakout” pick. Rakell had 69 points (34G / 35A) in 2018 but has failed to maintain that pace since. Before being traded to Pittsburgh last season, Rakell averaged 49 points per 82 games since 2019. After arriving in Pittsburgh, he scored four goals with nine assists (13 points) in 19 games while playing primarily on a line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. The trio put up gaudy underlying metrics (3.8 xGF/60), suggesting big things could be ahead for Rakell in 2023. Using the small sample size from last season, you could project him to get back to 60 points with upside for more. Of course, he’s going to be playing with Crosby after all. Brock Seguin

      San Jose Sharks – Alexander Barabonov

      Fresh off 10 goals and 39 points in his first full NHL season, the 28-year-old Russian finds himself as the leading candidate to skate on the Sharks’ top line with Timo Meier (76 Pts) and Tomas Hertl (64 Pts). With little pressure behind him throughout the weak Sharks lineup and only Kevin Labanc sitting between him and valuable top power-play time. The Russian had a 17-goal, 46-point season in 58 games in 2018-19 with St. Petersburg SKA (KHL), proving he can produce at a near 20 goal, point per game pace. He’s expected to miss the start of the season, so you can leave him on the waiver wire for now, but he could be a solid pick-up in deeper leagues when he returns. – Michael Bondy

      Seattle Kraken – Andre Burakovsky 

      Coming off a strong 2021-22, which saw him collect 61 points (22G / 39A) in 80 games, Burakovsky enters his first season in Seattle looking to lead the Kraken in all statistical categories, a year after Jared McCann led them with 50 points. No longer with the help of the Avalanche and their top-five scoring around him, the 27-year-old will be looking to take advantage of true top line and power-play minutes for the first time in his eight-year career. Playing only 16:16 ATOI with Colorado a season ago, it is exciting to think of the potential production he may have if reasonably given two to three more minutes a night. A true breakout from the winger has always been capped by his shot generation as he has never surpassed 150 shots and will need to do so to take the next step. Burakovsky finds himself at the bottom of draft boards and makes a great sleeper as he looks to prove he’s worth his $27.5M contract in his first year with the team. – Michael Bondy

      St. Louis Blues – Logan Brown

      Last year, Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou broke out in St. Louis, leaving us with very little to choose from for 2023. Their top-6 seems ironclad, filled with players with 70-plus point seasons, so we have to search in the bottom-6. It sounds like the Blues don’t want to use Brown in a fourth-line role, so he’ll be on the third line either on Brayden Schenn’s wing or at centre with Brandon Saad and Jake Neighbours next to him. Since being selected No.11 overall in 2016, Brown has 96 points (29G / 67A) in 113 AHL games; he just needs to find that touch at the NHL level. A lot needs to go right for Brown to break out, but a consistent third-line role is the first step. He needs to play more, he needs to shoot more and he needs better linemates; all of which seem possible for 2023. Brock Seguin

      Tampa Bay Lightning – Brandon Hagel

      Choosing a breakout on a team consistently as top-heavy as Tampa Bay is never an easy task. Ondrej Palat heading to New Jersey after 10 years with the club has luckily left a hole inside the Lightning’s top-6. Enter 24-year-old, 2021-22 mid-season acquisition, Brandon Hagel. The winger enjoyed a flash of success in his 55 games before his trade from Chicago, amassing 21 goals and 16 assists on 94 shots before departing for Tampa for a couple of high draft picks. Unfortunately, his production saw a hit after being traded to the Lightning, as he only collected seven points (4G / 3A) in 22 games after watching his ice time dip from 17:28 per night in Chicago to a lowly 13:35 ATOI. If Hagel can return to similar usage that he saw in Chicago, he should create more production in his first full year with Tampa. – Michael Bondy

      Toronto Maple Leafs – Michael Bunting 

      At 26 years old, Bunting surprisingly led all rookies on the way to his mini breakout with 63 points during the 2021-22 season. Averaging only 15:33 TOI nightly, he proved the perfect third piece to the Maple Leafs’ top line with Mitch Marner (97 Pts) and Rocket Richard Trophy winner Auston Matthews (60 Goals). With more ice time in 2022-23, we could see more growth from the second-year winger as he looks to build on last year’s success. To achieve this next level of a breakout, he will have to maintain his 13.1 SH% and 13.2 on-ice SH%, which likely won’t get much better, so the only way for him to reach 70-plus points would be to get increased ice time and PP1 usage. Despite playing a full season with Matthews and Marner, Bunting is still dropping towards the end of drafts, making him a low-risk, high-reward sleeper pick. – Michael Bondy

      Vancouver Canucks – Andrei Kuzmenko 

      The 26-year-old Russian heads to the Canucks, ready to make an immediate impact after finishing second in the KHL in scoring with 53 points (20G / 33A). Skating next to flashy three-time 60-point scorer Elias Pettersson throughout the preseason, Kuzmenko is one of the more glaring candidates for breakout and sleeper status entering 2022-23. With Brock Boeser out to open the season, he’s also found himself on the top power-play unit. We’ve seen Russians come over in their early-to-mid 20s and make an instant fantasy splash, and it looks like the Canucks will give Kuzmenko every opportunity to do that in 2023. – Michael Bondy

      Vegas Golden Knights – Logan Thompson

      One star’s unfortunate injury can spark another’s breakout campaign, which is the case between the pipes of the Vegas Golden Knights. Losing Robin Lehner for the entire 2022-23 season, Thompson has gladly taken the ‘next man up approach as he looks to solidify himself as the Golden Knight’s mainstay. Thompson’s 2021-22 saw him ranked 20th among all goalies (min 19 GP) in SV% (.914) and 23rd in GAA while collecting 10 wins in 17 starts in his first NHL season. An AHL star, Thompson enjoyed success while achieving above .930 SV% in his last two seasons with the Henderson Silver Knights (AHL). With Vegas having seemingly no commitments to the other two goalies fighting for his position, Thompson is one hot streak away from potentially being a workhorse and gaining high fantasy relevance in 2022-23. – Michael Bondy

      Washington Capitals – Connor Brown 

      Brown joins the Capitals after failing to hit the 40-point-mark for the second consecutive season while a member of the Ottawa Senators. Playing an average of 20:03 TOI, the forward will look to turn fewer minutes into more points as he finds himself likely in between a much stronger Capitals’ top-6 than he found himself in Ottawa. If he can keep a lineup position anywhere near Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov he makes a sneaky late draft pick and sleeper candidate as he is just a year off of a 21-goal season. Brown had shown flashes of breaking out in previous seasons as he was on pace for nearly 200 shots before the Covid shortened season in 2019-20. A change of scenery may very well be what he needs to get back on track offensively and surpass his previous career high of both 21 goals or 43 points. – Michael Bondy

      Winnipeg Jets – Nikolaj Ehlers

      Ehlers was on a great pace last season, registering 55 points (28G / 27A) in 62 games. That extrapolates to 37 goals and 36 assists (73 points) over 82 games, so it’s easy to get excited about Ehlers in 2023. The best part is that he enjoyed a mini-breakout without any red flags. His SH% was below his career average, so his increased goal totals came from a drastic increase in shot volume (13.1 SOG/60 — 7th best in the NHL). And his 10.9 on-ice SH% is perfectly normal, suggesting the assist production is sustainable. Entering 2022-23, he’s skating on a line with Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor, so all systems go for Ehlers. Brock Seguin

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