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. Boudreau doesn’t know how Ducks goalie situation will ‘shake out’

    Aug 30, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    Bruce Boudreau AP

    Frederik Andersen and John Gibson both have a shot at being No. 1.

  2. What if the Blue Jackets and Johansen don’t reach a deal?

    Aug 30, 2014, 4:05 PM EDT

    Ryan Johansen Getty Images

    The two sides are not budging in contract negotiations.

  3. Under Pressure: Cory Schneider

    Aug 30, 2014, 3:06 PM EDT

    Cory Schneider AP

    Will try to guide the Devils back to the postseason after two straight seasons without playoff hockey in New Jersey.

  4. Binghamton Senators unveil new jerseys

    Aug 30, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    Will wear a different look in 2014-15.

  5. Ryan Smyth keeping busy as camp approaches

    Aug 30, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    ryansmythgetty Getty Images

    After playing over 1,000 NHL games, he’s enjoying the time away.

  6. Report: Devils sign Pelley, add depth

    Aug 30, 2014, 12:38 PM EDT

    Image (1) NewJerseyDevils_logo-thumb-250x243-22093.gif for post 15654

    RFA David Wohlberg joins Albany

  7. Devils’ Gomez considered retirement

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:22 AM EDT

    Scott Gomez AP

    After spending portions of last season as a healthy scratch, he’s looking to revive his career in New Jersey.

  8. Will Jagr finally show his age next season?

    Aug 30, 2014, 10:11 AM EDT

    New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils Getty Images

    Father Time always wins … eventually.

  9. Trotz (kinda) downplays doubts about working with Ovechkin

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Washington Capitals Introduce General Manager Brian MacLellan And Coach Barry Trotz Getty Images

    ” … Until we go into the season and start playing real games, our relationship will be fine.”

  10. It’s New Jersey Devils day on PHT

    Aug 30, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Adam Henrique, Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder AP

    Can they shoot out of mediocrity?

  11. Looking to make the leap: Ryan Spooner

    Aug 29, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Boston Bruins v San Jose Sharks Getty Images

    Can he fit in well enough to embrace this opportunity?

  12. Poll: How should Boston handle its cap crunch?

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT

    marchboy Getty Images

    Should they make a move or play hardball with free agents?

  13. Nicklas Backstrom finally got his silver medal today

    Aug 29, 2014, 6:29 PM EDT

    backstromsilver

    “I’m sleeping with it tonight.”

  14. Report: Flames expected to try out Brookbank

    Aug 29, 2014, 4:57 PM EDT

    Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators Getty Images

    The Chicago Blackhawks let him walk.

  15. Report: Moore-Bertuzzi lawsuit removed from court docket

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT

    Bertuzzi Moore

    Was schedule for Ontario Superior Court Sept. 8

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. J. Harding (1584)
  2. C. Anderson (1582)
  3. B. Bishop (1578)
  4. C. Price (1500)
  5. M. Fleury (1456)
  1. D. Alfredsson (1450)
  2. A. Ekblad (1405)
  3. M. Staal (1378)
  4. J. Giguere (1335)
  5. D. Setoguchi (1287)