NHL Metropolitan Division: Each team’s breakout candidate

Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images /
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Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images /

The Metropolitan Division is among the NHL’s most talented and competitive. Which players could be the next stars? Here’s a look at each team’s breakout player.

Few divisions in the NHL have as much elite talent as the Metropolitan Division. Even after factoring in John Tavares‘s departure to the Atlantic Division, Mathew Barzal was a breakout player, replacing him as the Islanders best center. There’s also Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Seth Jones, and Taylor Hall, just to name a few.

But let’s look past all those stars. It’s easy to overlook players because of how great those around them are. Each season, whether you play fantasy hockey or not, it’s a lot of fun to keep an eye out for breakout candidates.

First, let’s define what a “breakout candidate” is because people use the term a lot, so its meaning is sometimes lost. These players are guys who are very promising but might not be known to the casual hockey fan. However, each of these players has the potential to be a household name as soon as next season or to significantly increase their production.

These players should be on everyone’s radar. Because, whether it’s because of an increased role or impressive underlying numbers, each of them is most likely going to be significantly better in 2018-19. Most of these players are younger, for somewhat obvious reasons.

Before we begin, let’s take a look at some honorable mentions. While Andre Burakovsky‘s role with the Washington Capitals has declined, he still has a ton of potential. If he can stay healthy (which he has struggled to do), he could be primed for a breakout season. Getting away from former head coach Barry Trotz, who never really trusted him that much, could be a great thing for him.

The New York Islanders have a number of intriguing young forwards, but since their lineup is a huge question mark, I didn’t include them. Instead, I went with a much more obvious candidate, who we’ll get to later.