Last season, forwards Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars, Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks and Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers went from reliable fantasy producers to elite-level assets. On the defenseman and goalie fronts, fantasy owners witnessed Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames and Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche joining the likes of stardom at their respective positions.
These were players who made their mark on the fantasy landscape before, but never to the degree of statistical prowess that they put forth this past season. Sleepers are under-the-radar players who are drafted much later than they should be. Breakout players are players we respect from a fantasy standpoint that elevate their level of production to new heights.
Targeting breakout candidates in your fantasy draft can go a long way in building a championship-caliber roster. Here are five players I believe will take the jump from household name to superstar in 2014-15. Pete Jensen will release his five breakout players on Tuesday, Sept. 23.
1. Logan Couture, C/LW, San Jose Sharks
In NHL.com's aggregate top-275 overall fantasy rankings, Couture came in at No. 32. Not too bad, right? I disagree. I think he should've been ranked a lot higher, and in my personal ranks I showed that, slotting him at No. 18 overall.
As I wrote in my top-50 fantasy breakdown, among players 25 or younger, only Stamkos, Tavares and Toews have more goals than Couture's 112. And his 924 shots on goal rank second. Yet for some reason, Couture is never included in the discussion as one of the NHL's best young players. He should be. Despite missing 17 games last season, Couture still finished as the 66th-ranked player in Yahoo fantasy leagues, scoring 23 goals, 54 points, a plus-21 rating, 20 penalty minutes, 13 power-play points and 233 shots on goal. His 3.6 shots on goal per game were 11th best in the NHL. Had he stayed healthy for the full season, he likely would've been an easy top-20 player.