3 Players Poised to Breakthrough in 15/16

(photo via nhl.com)

Jakob Silfverberg

It could be argued that Swedish winger Jakob Silfverberg already broke out this past season. Silfverberg really grabbed attention during the Ducks latest post season run and appears to be developing into the strong 2-way forward that GM Bob Murray was hoping for when he acquired the winger in a deal that saw Bobby Ryan go to the Ottawa Senators.

No Ducks winger faced tougher zone starts last season than Silfverberg did, and that’s really a testament to how strong his play is in his own end and how much head coach Bruce Boudreau trusts him in purely defensive assignments. And even despite those poor ZS%’s, he managed to keep his CF% over 50 which I feel is another strong statement about how mature his defensive game has become since the deal from Ottawa.

However, the one aspect still missing from his game has been the ability to contribute offense consistently, posting point totals of 19 (in a half season), 23 and 39 throughout his career. This next year could be the year we see Silfverberg take a leap forward in his offensive development and become a legitimate threat at both ends of the rink.

Silfverberg saw his power play time jump 79 minutes from 2013/14 to 2014/15 and with the loss of Matt Beleskey to free agency, there is a chance we could see those numbers go up again.

Beleskey averaged 1.46 ppm/game (power play minutes per game), while Silfverberg only averaged 0.56. That’s a lot of minutes to make up. Although a good amount of those could go to speedy winger Carl Hagelin, there will still be a good chunk of minutes that should be thrown onto Silfverberg’s shoulders.

We even saw signs of the Swedish forward’s offense breaking through in the playoffs when he netted 14 points in 16 games. Most notably in the team’s first round series against the Jets where he had two multi point games and showed an ability to take over a game.

Extra power play time, continued chemistry with Ryan Kesler and what appears to be a strong trust with coach Boudreau are all components that could add up to 15/16 being the best year yet for Silfverberg. You might want to throw him up a few spots on your fantasy hockey rankings as I see him potting 60 points this year.


Artemi Panarin

The Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks didn’t make any huge splashes in free agency this year, but the one move they made that could pay off big time is the signing of Russian winger Artemi Panarin.

Panarin posted 26 goals and 62 points while staying +15 in 54 games with St. Petersburg SKA this past season. He also spent time with Ilya Kovalchuk showing he has the ability to play with elite level talent.

Before training camp has even opened Panarin is already one of the top left-wingers on Chicago’s roster, and should compete with Teuvo Teravainen for time on the top line with Jonathan Toews. Training camp hasn’t even begun and t, this has the potential to be another clutch, out of nowhere grab by the Hawks.

I’ve read some comparisons to Patty Kane, in that he is a very skilled winger. Those comparisons are clearly very off but just the fact that they are being made should speak volumes about the skill of Panarin.

Panarin should also see a heavy dose of power play time as he could easily take over Brandon Saad’s duties on the second power play unit. Any time on a deadly Hawks power play will certainly increase his point totals.

I’ve only seen Panarin play twice during this past years World Championships, where he posted 10 points in 10 games. He was rather impressive and if he can translate his international play into NHL success then I believe it’s not a stretch at all for him to post upwards of 60 points next season on another stacked Chicago team.


Marko Dano

Yes, another Blackhawk. It’s hard not to notice breakout candidates on a team as deep as Chicago who regularly produces out of nowhere forwards.

Dano was acquired this past summer in the blockbuster deal that saw Brandon Saad go to Columbus for Artem Anisimov, Corey Tropp, Jeremy Morin and Dano. A massive seven-player deal, that generally isn’t seen in the NHL anymore.

The Slovakian born winger, who is listed at a mere 5’11 and 178 pounds, enjoyed a rather successful rookie season in Ohio posting 8 goals and 13 assists in 35 games on an oft-injured and offensively challenged Columbus team. For comparisons sake, Columbus ranked 20th in 5-on-5 team scoring, where as Chicago was 12th.

He did post a rather high PDO, which always raises a red flag for me, but I feel getting to play on a dynamic Hawks power play will help him immensely. Dano is a very offensively skilled forward but only saw about seven minutes of power play time with the Jackets. That will increase in Chicago as they lost a couple key members from their special teams unit in Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp.

A concern for me is that Dano is going from the more skill based eastern conference to the rougher, bigger western conference. However with Chicago’s offensive firepower playing in front of him, Dano should get softer matchups and should start in the offensive zone a lot more then the 28.2% he did last season.

With all things considered I believe the potential is definitely there for Marko Dano to burst onto the scene in his sophomore season. Going to a better team, getting sheltered minutes and more offensive zone starts are all reasons I believe we can expect around 40-45 points from the former first round pick.