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NHL Top Breakout Players: 2021-22 Season

The 2021-22 NHL season was filled with surprises and shocks. A handful of these surprises included players that overcame their projections and emerged as superstars. Here are 5 players that defied expectations and broke out into star players.

Jack Hughes, C, New Jersey Devils

The 2019 first overall pick, Jack Hughes had a ton of pressure on his shoulders entering his 3rd NHL. In his first two seasons, Hughes had underwhelming statistics as a former 1st overall pick, combining for 52 points in 117 games with many people skeptical of his development. This season, Hughes proved those doubters wrong with an incredible breakout season. Hughes colletected 56 points in just 49 games. Hughes’ breakout season was on par with other star players at 20 years old such as Connor McDavid, Jaromir Jagr, Sidney Crosby, and Alex Ovechkin. Injuries limited Hughes’ production this season but his impressive play is a promising sign for his development. With a new eight years, $8 million contract for Hughes, it will be exciting to see what he can accomplish in the future.

2020-21 Stats: 56 games, 11 goals, 20 assists, 31 points

2021-22 Stats: 49 games, 26 goals, 30 assists, 56 points

Jesper Bratt, RW, New Jersey Devils

Sticking on the theme of the New Jersey Devils, the next breakout star this year is Jesper Bratt who turned from a middle six winger into a bonafide first line winger. Bratt has always been labeled as an underrated player in the league with his elusive skating and impressive playmaking abilities. This year he finally pieced it all together with and recorded 70 points in 71 games. Bratt truly unlocked his goal scoring potential which is a significant factor for his notable campaign. Bratt is a pending RFA this summer and based on his production this past season, he is bound to receive a huge payday from the Devils.

2020-21 Stats: 46 games, 7 goals, 23 assists, 30 points

2021-22 Stats: 71 games, 25 goals, 45 assists, 70 points

Tage Thompson, C, Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres were expected to be one of, if not, the worst team in the league this season. But to everyone’s surprise, the Sabres outplayed their projected placement led by some breakout performances. The biggest one being Tage Thompson, who looked to be a bottom 6 forward after his first 3 seasons in the NHL, totaling 35 points in 144 games. However, the 6’7 center emerged into a top line center with 36 goals and 27 assists for 63 points in 74 games. The Sabres were desperately lacking a first line center with the absence of Jack Eichel, but it looks like they found a capable replacement in Tage Thompson.

2020-21 Stats: 38 games, 8 goals, 6 assists, 14 points

2021-22 Stats: 73 games, 36 goals, 26 assists, 62 points

Troy Terry, RW, Anaheim Ducks

Just like previously mentioned Tage Thompson, in his first few seasons in the big leagues, Troy Terry didn’t enter the league as a highly anticipated prospect. In his first three seasons, Terry put up between 10-20 points and looked like a future 3rd liner based on his potential and production. That was until this year when Terry earned a 1st line role and alongside rookie Trevor Zegras where both of them took their play to a different level. Terry earned 36 goals and 63 points in just 70 points which is well above his previous totals. Terry has established himself as a significant part of the Ducks future.

2020-21 Stats: 48 games, 7 goals, 13 assists, 20 points

2021-22 Stats: 71 games, 36 goals, 28 assists, 64 points

Ville Husso, G, St. Louis Blues

Prior to this season, it looked like the St. Louis Blues had their goaltending situation all handled with Jordan Binnington who led the St. Louis Blues to a Stanley Cup in 2019 and just signed a big 6 years, $36 Million contract with the Blues. But with Binnington’s inconsistent play to start the year ,it left the door open for Vile Husso to take over the starting job this season. The 27 year old goalie has a surprising record of 24-6-6 with a 2.46 GAA and .923 SV%, which ranks him top ten in both of those categories. It will be interesting to see how the Blues will handle their goaltending situation in the playoffs and what type of money pending UFA Ville Husso will receive in the open market.

2020-21 Stats: 9-6-1, 3.21 GAA, .893 SV%

2021-22 Stats: 24-6-6, 2.46 GAA, .923 SV%




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