Bounce candidates for next season
In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings, we take a look at 15 rebound contenders for the 2021-22 season.
There can be a number of reasons for a player to have a year of downturn, but that isn’t necessarily a sign of a long-term problem or that his time as a productive player is over. Maybe it’s due to an injury, maybe bad luck at the puck, or maybe just playing in a tough situation with the wrong team or the wrong line. Either way, players bounce back from these types of seasons all the time and we’re going to be looking at some options for next season.
Who is on this week’s NHL rankings list?
Towards the NHL Power Rankings!
1. Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers. What the hell happened here? For the first two years of his career, Hart looked like the long-term answer to the Flyers’ biggest problem. He was one of the main reasons for optimism heading into this season. Then he completely planted his face with one of the worst individual performances in the league. He’s much better than he’s shown this season, and the Flyers should expect a lot more in 2021-22. At least that’s what they can hope for. His game will largely determine the Flyers’ future success.
2. Patrik Laine, Columbus Blue Jackets. It was pretty quickly obvious that his playing style didn’t quite fit what John Tortorella envisioned. Will a new coach and a new start to the season (not to mention playing for a new contract) will give anything a boost for him this season? The talent is definitely there.
3. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues. Injuries have limited him to just 42 games overall (regular season and playoffs) over the past two seasons, and when he’s played he clearly hasn’t been 100%. He will be 30 in December, but a healthy Tarasenko should still be able to score over 30 goals in a full season. This will help the Blues a lot.
4. Sean monahan, Calgary Flames. A lot of people in Calgary have had a bad season, but Monahan’s drop in production was particularly evident. You might not expect him to be the point per player he was a few years ago, but his pace of 82 games this year would have been a 16-goal, 45-point season. Better than that.
5. Rasmus Dahlin, Buffalo Sabers. He looked like a different player in Buffalo after the change of coach. It’s a good sign that whatever was holding him back at the start of the season can be fixed. Huge talent the Sabers need to be a star.
6. Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings. He was a bright spot in Detroit during that rebuild, but his production fell a bit during the 2020-21 season. One of the league’s fastest players, Larkin is entering his 25-year-old season (expected to be his record year) and is coming off a career-low shooting percentage season. Expect a rebound.
7. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Capitals of Washington. The question here is will this rebound season happen in Washington, or elsewhere via trade? He missed time because of COVID twice and had the worst individual season of his career. Always an exceptional talent and playmaker. I think he still has a few really productive years to come.
[Related: What is next for Capitals after another First Round exit]
8. John gibson, Anaheim Ducks. Gibson is considered one of the best goalies in the NHL (and he is), but his numbers over the past two seasons have dropped dramatically. A big part of that is probably due to playing behind one of the worst teams in the league.
9. Viktor arvidsson, Nashville Predators. Just 10 goals in 50 games is a big drop for Arvidsson, and it was driven almost entirely by a massive drop in shooting percentage. If he maintains the same ability to generate shots and the puck luck rebounds, he could be in line for a great season next year.
10. Star trio Tyler seguin, Alexander Radulov, Ben Bishop. Those three are just about rebounds from injury and nothing at all related to performance. They combined for just 14 men’s games in the 2020-2021 season (just 11 for Radulov and just three for Seguin; zero for Bishop) and this played a huge role in the Stars’ passage from the Cup final. Stanley in the absence of the playoffs. Get them back to good health and the Stars should be a playoff team again.
11. Seth jones, Columbus Blue Jackets. Jones has regressed a bit in the past two seasons, but like Laine, I want to see what happens with a change of coach. Plus, you can’t rule out the possibility of a contract year bump, especially given its apparent desire to test the open market.
12. Jason zucker, Pittsburgh Penguins. It has been a difficult year for Zucker. He missed time due to injury and never really seemed to find a permanent spot on any line. He’s still a good player and the Penguins could really use a year of rebound given the contract and the price they paid for him in a trade.
13. Jeff skinner, Buffalo Sabers. I want to think he didn’t just forget how to score goals. It’s surely a better system, a bigger role and maybe a little luck to get it back on track. I want to think that. Buffalo probably does too.
14. Erik Karlsson, Sharks of San Jose. Is this really how his career will end? The injuries have taken their toll, but he is still only 31 years old. It might not be his prime, but he should still have good years ahead of him.
15. Jacob Markstrom, Calgary Flames. The Flames paid a lot of money for Markstrom to solve their goalie revolving door, and his first season was mixed. Some good, so not so good. He might not be an elite goalie, but he has a long history as a stable and durable goalkeeper who can play a big workload and play it well. He should be better than he was this season.