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TOP 10 BREAKOUT PLAYERS AT PAUSE
NOTES: Breakouts are young players (non-rookies) who far exceeded their average draft position and reached the upper echelon of their positions. Skaters who are 27 years old or older (e.g. J.T. Miller, Bryan Rust) and players who took the next step when healthy this season but missed significant time because of injury (e.g. Anthony Mantha, Oliver Bjorkstrand) have been excluded from this list.
Andrei Svechnikov, LW/RW, CAR
NHL.com rank: 44; ADP: 127.1
Svechnikov not only became a staple on the Carolina Hurricanes' top line but also their first power play, taking huge steps forward in assists (17 to 37), points (37 to 61) and power-play points (five to 20) in his second NHL season. Svechnikov formed one of the best first lines in the NHL with valuable forwards Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen and is a sure-fire top 50 overall fantasy asset moving forward.
Brady Tkachuk, LW, OTT
NHL.com rank: 60; ADP: 117.1
Tkachuk's rare category coverage makes him worthy of a long-term fantasy investment, regardless of team concerns surrounding the Ottawa Senators. Tkachuk ranks second in the NHL in hits (303) and was the only player in the League with at least 200 hits and 200 shots on goal when the season was paused. Tkachuk also had a 20-goal (21), 20-assist (23) season and was ranked among the top 30 overall players in most formats.
Shea Theodore, D, VGK
NHL.com rank: 64; ADP: 128.3
Theodore had been on the fantasy map before but never reached his potential over a full season until now; he ranks among NHL's best defensemen in goals (13; T-9th), points (46; 10th) and shots on goal (219; fourth) at the pause. Theodore belongs among the top 10 at the position entering next season and could even have a higher ceiling if the Vegas Golden Knights have more forward line continuity in the future.
Tom Wilson, RW, WSH
NHL.com rank: 67; ADP: 144.5
Wilson is one of the most polarizing players in the League because of his physical play but has become a fixture on the Washington Capitals' top line with elite left wing Alex Ovechkin in recent years. Wilson has taken his category coverage to an elite level this season, reaching NHL career highs in assists (23), points (44), power-play points (seven) and SOG (154). Brady Tkachuk and Wilson are the only two players with at least 20 goals (21 each) and 250 hits (Wilson: 253); they rank second and third respectively in hits behind Ryan Reaves (316).
Travis Konecny, RW, PHI
NHL.com rank: 69; ADP: 163.9
Available late in fantasy drafts or off the waiver wire, Konecny surprisingly leads the Philadelphia Flyers in goals (24), points (61) and PPP (23) at the pause. Konecny has shattered his previous NHL career highs in assists (37 this season), points, PPP and tied his best goal total. In the second half of the season, he maintained his productivity on the second line with center Kevin Hayes, proving Konecny is not just a product of valuable forwards Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier and could have staying power among the fantasy top 75 overall.
Kevin Fiala, LW/RW, MIN
NHL.com rank: 78; ADP: N/A
Fiala is a player that fantasy owners should look at drastically different compared to the past after his breakout second half of the season; he ranks third in the NHL in scoring (26 points in 19 games) and seventh in SOG (79) since the beginning of February. Although the Minnesota Wild made an in-season coaching change and showed signs of a rebuild, Fiala emerged as their clear fantasy MVP and could have an even higher ceiling if Russian forward Kirill Kaprizov joins the Wild next season.
Pavel Francouz, G, COL
NHL.com rank: 80; ADP: N/A
Goalie Philipp Grubauer may have been the fantasy breakout candidate from the Colorado Avalanche in the preseason, but Francouz ended up emerging as the more efficient option and earned a new two-year contract. Among the 45 goalies to play at least 30 games this season, Francouz ranks tied for third in save percentage (.923 in 34 games) and has filled in admirably whenever Grubauer dealt with injury. Francouz is a fringe top 10 goalie in NHL.com's fantasy rankings for next season and worth reaching for inside the top 100 overall.
Neal Pionk, D, WPG
NHL.com rank: 85; ADP: 159.6
Acquired by the Winnipeg Jets from the New York Rangers for Jacob Trouba, Pionk has far outperformed him in fantasy production and is shockingly ranked third among defensemen in standard leagues behind Roman Josi and John Carlson. Pionk, who has frequently played on the first power-play unit, is tied with rookie standout Quinn Hughes for third among NHL defensemen in power-play points (25) and ranks among the leaders in assists (39, eighth), points (45; T-11th), and shots on goal (177; T-9th). Pionk is also the only NHL defenseman with at least 40 points, a plus-10 and 150 hits (165).
Tony DeAngelo, D, NYR
NHL.com rank: 86; ADP: 157.3
DeAngelo went from being undrafted in most leagues to ranking tied for fourth among all defensemen in scoring (53 points) behind Carlson (75), Josi (65) and Victor Hedman (55). Although DeAngelo will continue to have some competition with defenseman teammates Trouba and rookie standout Adam Fox, he has run away with the first power-play job for an elite offense (3.33 goals per game, 5th in NHL; 22.9 power-play percentage, seventh), which features top 15 players in Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad.
Juuse Saros, G, NSH
NHL.com rank: 97; ADP: 172.9
Among the 22 goalies to play at least 40 games this season, Saros ranks tied for eighth in SV% (.914). His four shutouts were tied for fifth in the League, and he has outperformed veteran Pekka Rinne in three of the four standard fantasy categories. Saros should no longer be viewed as a quality backup but rather the likely starter in Nashville for next season and a top 15 fantasy option at his position.
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