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.
Aug 30, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
Frederik Andersen and John Gibson both have a shot at being No. 1.
Aug 30, 2014, 4:05 PM EDT
The two sides are not budging in contract negotiations.
Aug 30, 2014, 3:06 PM EDT
Will try to guide the Devils back to the postseason after two straight seasons without playoff hockey in New Jersey.
Aug 30, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
Will wear a different look in 2014-15.
Aug 30, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
Joins the Prince George Cougars as an assistant coach.
Aug 30, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
After playing over 1,000 NHL games, he’s enjoying the time away.
Aug 30, 2014, 12:38 PM EDT
RFA David Wohlberg joins Albany
Aug 30, 2014, 11:22 AM EDT
After spending portions of last season as a healthy scratch, he’s looking to revive his career in New Jersey.
Aug 30, 2014, 10:11 AM EDT
Father Time always wins … eventually.
Aug 30, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
” … Until we go into the season and start playing real games, our relationship will be fine.”
Aug 30, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Can they shoot out of mediocrity?
Aug 29, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
Can he fit in well enough to embrace this opportunity?
Aug 29, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT
Should they make a move or play hardball with free agents?
Aug 29, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT
Jeff Skinner was also on the ice Friday.
Aug 29, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
Can’t top No. 4.
Aug 29, 2014, 6:29 PM EDT
“I’m sleeping with it tonight.”
Aug 29, 2014, 4:57 PM EDT
The Chicago Blackhawks let him walk.
Aug 29, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
Team has needs at center.
Aug 29, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
Played 20 career games with Boston.
Aug 29, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT
Was schedule for Ontario Superior Court Sept. 8
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