Which young players, who do not have eye-popping stats at the moment, have started to break out or are on the verge of a breakout?
Brian Rosenbaum: The first name that pops into my head is Sam Reinhart. With only 10 points in 26 games, he is likely not garnering a lot of attention in most single-season pools. However, since being teamed with Evander Kane and Ryan O'Reilly, Reinhart has looked amazing. He has scored three of his seven goals in his last three games and seems danagerous every time he touches the puck. A breakout may in fact be underway.
Ryan Dadoun: Sam Reinhart is worth gambling on, even in single-season leagues. When you asked the question though, my mind went to Jordan Eberle. Statistically, he's been unimpressive so far this season, but he's scored three critical goals in his last four games. The thing is though, two of them were shootout markers, so obviously they didn't count towards fantasy leagues, but they nevertheless were good confidence boosters after his cold start. He has four goals and no assists in 14 games this season, but I wouldn't be surprised if we're seeing the start of a hot streak.
Michael Finewax: That's funny because in my Saturday Dose I commented that Sam Reinhart has the quietest seven goals in the league, especially for a second overall pick in 2014. I'm looking at Valeri Nichuskin of the Stars. He had a nice rookie season a couple of years ago with 14 goals and 34 points but last season was a disaster as he played in only eight games due to hip surgery. He got off to a real slow start but has four points in his last four games and is now seeing time on the top line with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. He is someone to keep an eye on and this looks to be the beginning of a breakout.
Corey Abbott: I'm keeping an eye on Wild defender Matt Dumba. He has drawn plenty of criticism for not playing the same way he did last season, but he has scored game-winning goals in Minnesota's last two games and appears to be getting back on track. He was viewed as an X-factor for the Wild going into the season and a potential breakout candidate. He still has plenty of time to be that player and this could be the start of that.
Brian Rosenbaum: Looking at this a different way, there is a player who has performed very well this season but few have probably noticed. He's only played 11 games in the NHL this season, so he certainly isn't near the top of any leader board. But Shayne Gostisbehere has been a revelation. In those 11 games, the 22-year-old Philly defenseman has scored four goals and registered eight points. The better news is that he has shown the ability to put up points at all his previous stops including 21 games at the AHL level in which he registered 15 points. He may, in fact, be the real deal.
Ryan Dadoun: I'm glad Michael brought up Nichuskin. He's been a player with a lot of potential for a little while now, especially because he's potentially a good fit for a Seguin-Benn line. I'm a little weary about him in the short-term though because now the Stars have Patrick Sharp. This is a team so stacked that Sharp is now playing on the third line to make room for Nichuskin on the top unit. Will that last? It's certainly possible, but at the same time, I have a feeling those lines are going to be juggled regularly. Tomas Hertl is another player in that vein as he has a lot of talent that he has the potential to play alongside, but he doesn't always get that opportunity. He had an impressive 15 goals and 25 points in 37 rookie games while frequently playing with Joe Thornton and unfortunately followed that up with a rough sophomore campaign. This season you can generously call a mix bag thus far, but he has so much potential and I do still see him as a prime candidate to break out in the near future.
Corey Abbott: I took a break from praising the play of Gostisbehere this week in Waiver Wired, but he was mentioned in previous installments. His production has been excellent and I like that he's playing on the top power-play unit of the Flyers. Moving to the crease, John Gibson's potential isn't much of a secret, but he is creating an interesting situation for the Ducks. He was expected to spend most of the season in the minors, but he has played well while Frederik Andersen has been sidelined with a bad case of the flu. I don't think you can send him down when Andersen is fully recovered. Gibson possesses the talent to be a starter and he's giving Anaheim's brass plenty to ponder.
Michael Finewax: I agree with John Gibson but there are a couple of other goalies out there that deserve consideration. Connor Hellebuyck and Andrei Vasilevskiy are up-and-comers with Vasilevskiy's spot in Tampa Bay being blocked by Ben Bishop while Hellebuyck was a recent call up with the injury in Winnipeg to Ondrej Pavelec. Hellebuyck was slated to back up Michael Hutchison with the Jets but he has been terrific in his three starts as he has won all three while giving up only three goals on 86 shots. Vasilevskiy started the season on injured reserve and is slowly getting more playing time as the season progresses. Look for both to be starters within a couple of years and perhaps even sooner.