NHL’s Top 10 Breakout Candidates for 2022-23 Season

For the purpose of this piece, I am leaving players with rookie eligibility off of this list. The top 10 breakout candidates for the 2022-23 NHL season will include players who have shown promise and have been building up to becoming much better players.

With many or all of them getting better opportunities this season, each of them has the ability to break out and raise their value. It is the perfect time considering every one of them will be talking contract extensions with their teams in the near future. Let’s check out the group.

10. Klim Kostin

The St. Louis Blues will likely give Klim Kostin an amazing opportunity to enter the top-nine this season, seeing as there is one vacant spot with David Perron’s departure. Last season, every single member of the Blues’ top-nine scored at least 20 goals. There was shuffling throughout the season, but they had the deepest forward group in the league and very talented players playing on all three lines.

Kostin will be given the best chance to succeed this season in that role. He must seize the opportunity while it presents itself before top prospects like Jake Neighbours, Zachary Bolduc, or Jimmy Snuggerud get their shot. Kostin’s had his chances before, as he played 40 games for the Blues last season. But he couldn’t stick around, scoring just four goals and nine points. The 23-year-old spent the other part of the season in the American Hockey League (AHL). The former first-round pick has a great opportunity to have a breakout season, and it may very well be a make-or-break season.

9. Mathieu Joseph

Mathieu Joseph was a decent third-line player for the Tampa Bay Lightning before the trade that sent him to the Ottawa Senators. With a better opportunity, we saw a glimpse of just what sort of talent he could be. He scored four goals and 12 points in 11 games once joining the Senators after posting just eight goals and 18 points in 58 games with the Lightning.

Mathieu Joseph Ottawa Senators
Mathieu Joseph, Ottawa Senators (Photo by Steven Kingsman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

A big part of why Joseph saw a huge uptick in his offence was due to the increase in over three minutes of average ice time per game and better linemates. He likely won’t be a point-per-game player since, without an injury to any member of the top-six, he will be playing on the third line. His linemates won’t be as talented as they were at the end of last season, but he should have young and hungry players to play with, like Shane Pinto and Alex Formenton. Joseph will play a big role on the penalty kill, as well as more time on the second power-play unit, helping him grow all around.

8. Alex Newhook

The Colorado Avalanche are coming off a Stanley Cup win and lost two top-six pieces from last season’s team. Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky’s departure leaves lots of opportunity for third-line players to step up and fill those roles. Alex Newhook is at the top of that list and could very well see time in the top-six this season.

Related: Avalanche’s Newhook Poised For Breakout Season After Kadri Exit

Newhook will be competing with J.T. Compher and Evan Rodrigues for the second-line centre position, but it may switch hands a few times throughout the season. Newhook has the brightest future of the three, but he’s also the youngest. He had a solid rookie season, scoring 13 goals and 33 points on the third line, and could make big strides in his development coming into 2022-23. He has a great team around him and every chance to succeed.

7. Cole Sillinger

The Columbus Blue Jackets are going to be very much improved this season, with some big additions and young talent developing and coming into the lineup. Cole Sillinger surprised and impressed, making the team out of training camp at 18 years old and having himself a great rookie season last year.

Cole Sillinger, Columbus Blue Jackets
Cole Sillinger, Columbus Blue Jackets (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

He recorded 16 goals and 31 points in 79 games as the Blue Jackets’ third-line centre, a position he may start out at in 2022-23. With a good start, Sillinger could see his ice time and role increase since the Blue Jackets don’t have a real number one centre on their team. Boone Jenner is projected to be centering the top line, but he’s a second-line centre at best, while Jack Roslovic is inconsistent. The hope is that Sillinger and Kent Johnson will turn into the team’s top two centres, and that could start as soon as this season.

6. Eric Comrie

Eric Comrie is the only goaltender that appears here, and for good reason. More often than not, it is difficult for a generally unproven goaltender to get a lot of starts. It’s even more difficult for us to predict which starters may get injured and open up the opportunity for those inexperienced goalies to step up as well. Luckily for Comrie, he more than proved to be a great backup option in Winnipeg last season and may see at least half of the starts in Buffalo in 2022-23.

The Sabres are sticking with a young group of players, and general manager Kevyn Adams doesn’t want veterans taking opportunities away from said players. Since his projected goalie partner, Craig Anderson, is 41 years old, a full-time starter role just isn’t in the cards anymore. He played just 31 games last season, and if Comrie plays well enough, he could earn up to 45-50 starts.

The Sabres are a young and dynamic team looking to make some noise. They should be better than last season as they are slowly on the rise. The defence in front of Comrie is also very young, with the oldest defenceman being 28 years old. But seeing as he had a .920 save percentage and 2.58 goals against average last season behind a sub-par Jets defence, there isn’t a ton to worry about. The 27-year-old netminder should assume the full-time start role by the end of the season and give immediate help in net for the Sabres.

5. Adam Boqvist

Adam Boqvist has earned his spot on the top defence pairing alongside Zach Werenski and will see his ice time and role increased. He played just 17 minutes per game last season but still scored 11 goals. With a much-improved team, the scoring should increase significantly, and the young defender will be able to get in on more of the offence.

Adam Boqvist Chicago Blackhawks
Adam Boqvist with the Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Boqvist won’t be a star just yet, but he has the opportunity and skillset to grow and really break out. The 22-year-old defenceman has now spent parts of three seasons in the NHL and is ready to take the next step. The team doesn’t have any top defenceman to take time away from him, and his ability to score goals is a great example of his potential right now.

4. Cole Caufield

Cole Caufield and the rest of the Montreal Canadiens got a major boost when Martin St. Louis took over as head coach. He was able to connect with his players, especially Caufield, who is a similar size and plays a similar game as St. Louis.

For the first 30 games, Caufield scored one goal and eight points and was even sent down to the AHL. But once St. Louis took over for the final 37 games, Caufield immediately changed his whole dynamic. He then finished the season strong, scoring 22 goals and 35 points in 37 games. Considering how his season was night and day, and he will have St. Louis as a coach for the entire season, Caufield will have himself a breakout season without a doubt.

3. Alexis Lafreniere

Alexis Lafreniere continues to show his goal-scoring ability for the New York Rangers despite the lack of opportunity and playing time. He has been stuck on the third line, but will get into the top-six this season. It’s even projected that he will find himself on the top line playing beside elite talent like Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, or Vincent Trocheck.

Alexis Lafreniere New York Rangers
Alexis Lafreniere, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Now that Lafreniere isn’t a teenager anymore, has two full seasons under his belt, and has earned a great opportunity, look for him to break out in a big way. He could very well top the 30-goal mark with the linemates he will be playing with and maybe even earn some more power-play time.

2. Matt Boldy

Matt Boldy burst onto the scene mid-way through last season and provided some much-needed offence. He scored 15 goals and 39 points in 47 games and should realistically find himself in the top-six this season for the Minnesota Wild after the departure of Kevin Fiala.

He was an immediate help on the power play, providing three goals and 10 points. With more skilled linemates, a better opportunity, and a number of games under his belt, Boldy will come out even better this season. The Wild will definitely need that from him with so much cap space tied up in buyouts. The team is really hoping he can make up for a lot of what was lost when they traded Fiala. We will see if Boldy can keep up the great play now that his former linemate has moved on.

1. Seth Jarvis

The number one breakout candidate for the 2022-23 season is Seth Jarvis. He had an impressive rookie season all around and is a great option for the Carolina Hurricanes on the wing for cheap while he’s still on his entry-level contract. He fit right in and found chemistry with Sebastian Aho on the top line, where he should remain this season.

Seth Jarvis Carolina Hurricanes
Seth Jarvis, Carolina Hurricanes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Especially with the Max Pacioretty injury, Jarvis is going to be expected to replicate the success he had as a rookie when he scored an impressive 17 goals and 40 points in 68 games. He did this without producing much on the power play. But with the opportunity the youngster has to play on the top line with elite players, it will only rub off on him more and help him really break out this season.

The crop of young players in the NHL is impressive, and many will get great opportunities to show their team and the league what they’re really made of in 2022-23. Not all of these players may have breakout seasons, but given their potential and opportunity, it is going to be a great year for this group.

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