Skip to content

Are these 10 players primed for bounce back seasons?

Aug 11, 2011, 6:59 PM EDT

Nicklas Backstrom, Martin Brodeur AP

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.

Significant improvement

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.

source: APMarginal improvements

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.

source: APUnlikely to improve

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.

Latest Posts
  1. PHT Morning Skate: What to do with Niemi?

    Jul 24, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Antti Niemi AP

    Thursday’s assortment of links.

  2. Babcock on analytics: ‘I love the information’

    Jul 23, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    mikebabcockgetty Getty Images

    Makes sense for a franchise that frequently favors puck possession.

  3. Florida phases out ‘Lady Panthers’

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    Pittsburgh Penguins v Florida Panthers Getty Images

    They’ll feature a “skating-only” ice crew next season.

  4. Video: EA teases what’s new in NHL 15

    Jul 23, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT

    eanhl15screen

    Will their latest physics improvements make a big difference?

  5. Stamkos shrugs off talk of LeBron-like homecoming to Toronto in 2016

    Jul 23, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

    James Reimer, Mark Fraser, Steven Stamkos AP

    “We’ll see what happens. It’s a couple years away.”

  6. Sakic says there was ‘never any animosity’ between Avs and O’Reilly

    Jul 23, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    Joe Sakic AP

    “Any of the perceived animosity came from the outside.”

  7. Jacques Martin is now Pittsburgh’s senior advisor of hockey operations

    Jul 23, 2014, 12:57 PM EDT

    Jacques Martin, Dan Bylsma, Sidney Crosby, James Neal, Chris Kunitz AP

    His previously “yet-to-be-determined capacity” has been determined.

  8. Fayne looking forward to defending the ‘bigger guys’ in West

    Jul 23, 2014, 12:41 PM EDT

    Mark Fayne, Mark Letestu AP

    “My style and build might be better against the bigger guys.”

  9. Ex-NHLer Paek to coach Korea, with goal of participating in 2018 Olympics

    Jul 23, 2014, 11:34 AM EDT

    Detroit Red Wings 2007 Headshots Getty Images

    Won a couple of Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

  10. Sabres sign d-man Benoit — one year, $800,000

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:48 AM EDT

    Colorado Avalanche v San Jose Sharks Getty Images

    Had seven goals with 21 assists last year for the Avs.

  11. Avs and O’Reilly agree on two-year deal, but questions remain

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:23 AM EDT

    Colorado Avalanche v Ottawa Senators Getty Images

    The 23-year-old can now become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016.

  12. New Caps regime plans to keep Ovechkin at RW (for now)

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Alex Ovechkin, Victor Hedman AP

    Barry Trotz continues Adam Oates’ alteration, at least for now.

  13. Stars consider Roussel a ‘big part’ of their team

    Jul 22, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Jaden Schwartz, Antoine Roussel AP

    They locked him up to a four-year deal on Tuesday.

  14. Report: NHL return possible for Peter Mueller

    Jul 22, 2014, 10:15 PM EDT

    Peter Mueller AP

    He spent last season playing in Switzerland.

Featured video

Bettman hears the boos in Philly
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. S. Crosby (1817)
  2. L. Stempniak (1547)
  3. D. Roy (1473)
  4. R. Nash (1305)
  5. M. Ribeiro (1210)
  1. A. Rome (1206)
  2. C. Franson (1132)
  3. D. Cleary (1104)
  4. R. O'Reilly (1082)
  5. B. Morrow (1063)