PHT's 2010-11 'breakout' player list

8 Comments

okposares.jpgEarlier today, I took a look at NHL.com’s seven candidates for a “breakthrough” season. Since this is a slackertastic Saturday, I thought I’d provide my own list of players who could make a big difference in 2010-11. Feel free to lampoon my choices in the comments.

John Tavares, NY Islanders

The most obvious choice since he was the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft (like Stamkos), has sniper-like abilities (like Stamkos) and had a solid but not amazing rookie season (you get it). He won’t have a linemate like Martin St. Louis (sorry, Matt Moulson), but he just HAD to make this list.

Kyle Okposo, NY Islanders

Okposo is the Islanders’ “other” star-in-the-making. He’s had 18 and 19 goals in his first two seasons on Long Island, so he’s already shown hints of breaking through. His third year could be it.

Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning

The tall Swede had a pedestrian rookie season (4 goals, 16 assists for 20 points in 74 games) but a revamped Lightning lineup might mean some nice results for last year’s No. 2 pick. Just imagine the Lightning powerplay next season: Simon Gagne, Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Hedman/Pavel Kubina. That’s ridiculous.

Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues

He was a miserable -9 in only 9 games last year, but the 2008 first rounder is bound for a breakthrough sooner or later. He can bring a little feisty play to the table along with plenty of offensive skill. I don’t know if 2010-11 is the year, but Pietrangelo is one of the league’s under the radar players.

jamesvanriems.jpgJames Van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers

Claude Giroux and Ville Leino were the Flyers’ biggest breakout players in the 2010 playoffs, but Van Riemsdyk is primed for a big year too. The Flyers are loaded at forward so it might be difficult for him to get a bunch of ice time, but keep an eye on the guy who was drafted right after Patrick Kane.

Derick Brassard, Columbus Blue Jackets

He’s injury prone and wasn’t that great in 09-10 (36 points in 79 games) but showed some real promise in 08-09 (25 points in an injury-shortened 31 game season). The Blue Jackets need all the offense they can get and Brassard could be the guy who provides that spark.

Jack Johnson, LA Kings

While Drew Doughty justifiably gets the attention, Johnson seems to receive as much criticism as praise. Still, he’s a talented player in a contract year. We could see big things from the American defenseman this season.

There’s my seven choices. Who else do you think would be a viable candidate for a breakout year? Share your thoughts.

Canucks without Sutter (broken jaw), Edler (foot) for foreseeable future

Brandon Sutter
1 Comment

After a good Tuesday night, the Vancouver Canucks are having a lousy Wednesday morning.

The club has just announced that center Brandon Sutter and defenseman Alex Edler have been sent home from the club’s current two-game road swing, after suffering injuries in a win over Colorado last night.

Craig Oster, Sutter’s agent, told News 1130 his client has a broken jaw after taking a puck to the face. Per TSN, Edler is undergoing “imaging” on his foot following a blocked shot, but it’s believed he’ll be out the next 2-3 weeks.

The impact of these injuries could be profound.

Vancouver hasn’t been good this year but remains in the thick of the playoff chase, sitting just four points back of the Avs for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference — with three games in hand.

At the same time, the Canucks also have two potentially big trade chips at the deadline in pending UFAs Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata.

Will the Sutter and Edler injuries factor into Vancouver’s future plans?

You’d have to think so.

Edler is a staple on the back end, leading all Canuck blueliners in points (20) and TOI per game (24:27). Sutter, meanwhile, was supposed to be a key piece of the club this year but has had most of his season ravaged by injury — prior to the broken jaw, he missed 33 games following sports hernia surgery.

All told, Sutter has appeared in just 20 games this year.

His is also the second major facial injury suffered by a Canuck this season — Hamhuis only recently returned from a 21-game absence after taking a puck to the face in mid-December.

Kings place Ehrhoff on waivers

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Nick Bonino #13 of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Christian Ehrhoff #10 of the Los Angeles Kings head for the piuck during the first period at Staples Center on December 5, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Getty
4 Comments

The Los Angeles Kings have placed defenseman Christian Ehrhoff on waivers, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

A veteran of almost 800 NHL games, Ehrhoff has not fit well with Los Angeles after signing a one-year, $1.5 million deal in August. The 33-year-old has just 11 points in 40 games and is a team-worst minus-10. Though he had two assists in last night’s 9-2 win over the Bruins, he also took a careless tripping penalty in the first period that led to a Boston goal.

In a related story, the Kings are rumored to be looking for help on the back end. In fact, they were reportedly quite interested in Dustin Byfuglien, before he re-signed with the Jets.

According to Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider, 23-year-old defenseman Kevin Gravel is “on the verge of a recall” from AHL Ontario.

The Kings play Thursday in Brooklyn.

Report: Kadri’s throat-slashing gesture being reviewed by NHL

Nazem Kadri
AP
1 Comment

Nazem Kadri‘s throat-slashing gesture is under review by the NHL, according to TSN.ca.

The Maple Leafs forward made the gesture while sitting on Toronto’s bench last night in Calgary, moments after he was laid out by Flames captain Mark Giordano.

The NHL first started cracking down on the throat-slashing gesture in 2000. Former NHLer Nick Boyton was suspended twice for making the gesture, first in 2006 then again in 2010. He was banned one game for each incident.

Fix coming? Blues activate Schwartz after 49-game absence

Jaden Schwartz
1 Comment

After Tuesday’s loss to the Jets — the Blues’ fourth in their last six games — head coach Ken Hitchcock said his club has “got to play harder than this” and “got to compete at a lot higher level than this.”

He then added “it’s up to us to fix it.”

Well, help is on the way.

On Wednesday, the Blues activated forward Jaden Schwartz off injured reserve, after he missed the last 49 contests with a fractured left ankle. Schwartz is expected to be in the lineup on Friday when the Blues take on the Panthers in Florida.

The 23-year-old should provide an immediate boost to the lineup. Schwartz had four points in seven games before getting hurt, and that came on the heels of a successful ’14-15 campaign in which he posted career highs in goals (28) and points (63).

The Blues’ first-round pick in 2010 (14th overall), Schwartz is a 17-18 TOI per night guy, so he’ll be a big presence almost immediately. His return also inches the team back to full health, though there’s still a ways to go — Alex Pietrangelo and Jake Allen are still week-to-week with knee and lower-body injuries, while Steve Ott is out until late February following hamstrings surgery.

Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made