Aug 11, 2011, 6:59 PM EDT
NHL.com’s John Kreiser is something of a maestro when it comes to off-season fodder, so it comes as no surprise that his top 10 list of “bounce back” players is an interesting read. That being said, the beauty of these lists is that they typically lend themselves to wildly subjective (and sometimes fun) debates. With that in mind, I’m going to file his 10 choices into three categories: likely to improve significantly, candidates for a marginal improvement and players who are unlikely to improve.
Let’s stay positive at first by going with the guys who should have a much better season. Again, this is going on the 10 players Kreiser listed; we might provide some other candidates at a later time.
Nicklas Backstrom – The Swedish pivot’s numbers might be linked to Alex Ovechkin for quite some time, so it’s no mystery that his numbers slid when Ovi scored a relatively low 32 goals last season. Ovechkin isn’t likely to suffer with a shooting percentage at the 8.7 mark and Backstrom isn’t likely to hit just 8.9 percent himself for another season, so I bet Backstrom will be better by the sheer force of better luck. There’s one caveat, though: I think he’ll be closer to the 88-point 2008-09 campaign than his career-best 101 in 09-10 since the Caps are more defensive-minded.
Mark Streit – It’s pretty hard not to top 0 points in 0 games, eh? Streit’s return could make the New York Islanders a dark horse candidate for a playoff run next season.
Martin Brodeur – Actually, I think a better year for Ilya Kovalchuk and a healthier one for Zach Parise – and no John MacLean – will benefit the team as a whole, which will trickle down to Marty. Brodeur is getting long in the tooth, but like Streit, he’ll probably improve by default more than anything else. I still wouldn’t draft him too highly in any fantasy leagues, though.
Marian Gaborik – He’d be a significant improver if a Terminator robot came back from the future and informed the world that the injury-prone winger would skate for 82 games with Brad Richards. Sadly, that scenario is about as likely as … a Terminator robot informing the world of a Slovakian winger’s surprising health. He’ll still be better than he was in 2010-11, though.
Sergei Gonchar – Another guy in the “he couldn’t get much worse” files. Don’t expect a significant improvement considering the mediocre roster around him, though.
Scott Gomez – Again, just in this category because he couldn’t get much worse than last year.
Duncan Keith – People overreacted to his struggles last season. The truth is that Keith benefited from a 2009-10 Chicago team whose overload of matchup advantages won’t be duplicated. He’s kind of like Nicklas Backstrom in that his normal expectations should probably rest somewhere in between his best season in 09-10 and his “struggles” last season.
Nik Antropov – The former Toronto Maple Leafs center had a surprisingly strong 09-10 campaign, but I just didn’t buy it. You can attribute much of that hot season to an unsustainable 19 percent shooting percentage. That being said, 41 points is far behind the totals he put together the previous three seasons and his ice time slid substantially in 10-11, so he’ll probably put up better numbers by default.
Niklas Backstrom – This isn’t meant to be an insult to Backstrom; he’s a good NHL goalie. The problem is that the Minnesota Wild defense is really poor so it’s likely he’ll be hung out to dry with regularity. Perhaps you could file him under “marginal improvement” if win-loss record is all you can are about, but I get the feeling his individual numbers might be shaky again. In fact, his .916 save percentage was pretty solid last season, so hanging the Wild’s struggles on his shoulders really isn’t that fair in the first place.
Steve Sullivan – He’ll be significantly improved … in video games. Unfortunately, you can’t turn injuries off in real life, so I fear that Sullivan might be next season’s version of Mike Comrie. This might be my riskiest pick because it could indeed be very wrong if he remains healthy, but he’s been so injury prone that I can’t see it happening.
So what do you think about these players? Do you have some bounce back candidates of your own? Share your thoughts in the comments.
May 3, 2015, 11:55 AM EDT
Brandon Saad: “We have to regroup, refocus and get the job done.”
May 3, 2015, 10:46 AM EDT
It’s unclear if this is injury-related.
May 3, 2015, 9:36 AM EDT
Three games for a pretty busy Sunday.
May 3, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT
Yeah, it was quite a goal from No. 8.
May 2, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT
Didn’t waste time getting on the board in Game 2.
May 2, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
But it doesn’t sound like there will be a dramatic, sudden return.
May 2, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT
“You only have one life, enjoy it.”
May 2, 2015, 7:59 PM EDT
Without a goal in this post-season.
May 2, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT
Minnesota almost completed the comeback in Game 1.
May 2, 2015, 5:43 PM EDT
“Since the voting period began, we’ve received an astounding 20.4 million votes…”
May 2, 2015, 5:05 PM EDT
The Caps were out-shot 15-4 and out-scored 2-0 in the opening 20.
May 2, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT
Lundqvist made 30 saves as New York edged Washington 3-2 in Game 2.
May 2, 2015, 3:07 PM EDT
The highlight-reel goal pulls the Caps to within one.
May 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
He suffered a lower body injury on Friday.
May 2, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT
Paperwork filed for environmental study.
May 2, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT
One of four first period saves made by the Rangers’ starter.
May 2, 2015, 1:05 PM EDT
Opened the scoring 38 seconds in.
May 2, 2015, 12:05 PM EDT
Puck drop is at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
May 2, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT
He made his NHL debut in April.
May 2, 2015, 10:35 AM EDT
He didn’t play a shift in the third period of Thursday’s loss.
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