THW’s Big Lists Revisited: Busts

This is the fourth and final part of a series reflecting on the Big Lists that I posted in early September to preview the 2014-15 NHL season.

From the outset, I found Bust candidates the most difficult to predict and could only come up with 38 possibilities. In the end, I learned not to bet against superstars as most all of them proved me wrong. Fortunately, I saved a little face on some lesser talents to justify this list of 26 players.

(Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports) Mike Smith was a big-time bust this season, with his struggles causing the Arizona Coyotes to be out of playoff contention by Christmas. Smith picked up his play down the stretch, but that might have been more costly as the Coyotes failed to finish in last-place overall and guarantee the franchise either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in this week's NHL draft. Instead, the Coyotes will pick third overall thanks to Smith.
(Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)
Mike Smith was a big-time bust this season, with his struggles causing the Arizona Coyotes to be out of playoff contention by Christmas. Smith picked up his play down the stretch, but that might have been more costly as the Coyotes failed to finish in last-place overall and guarantee the franchise either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in this week’s NHL draft. Instead, the Coyotes will pick third overall thanks to Smith.

Big Success

Mike Smith (G Arizona)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 62 GP-.904 Save %-3.16 GAA

Last Season Stats: 62 GP-.915 Save %-2.64 GAA

Then: He was Canada’s third-string alternate but nevertheless another Olympian who could come crashing down in 2014-15. The Coyotes are worse on paper as a whole and he’ll be asked to handle a heavy workload again as Devan Dubnyk tries to rediscover his game in a backup role. If Smith falters, this could be a lottery team.

Now: Smith struggled for a majority of the season before finishing strong and then backstopping Canada to gold at the world championship. But Smith was only at that tournament because he failed to give the Coyotes a chance to win on most night before the all-star break. Arizona finished with the league’s second-worst record in the regular season and Smith was largely to blame. Yet, given the way the campaign ended for him, there is reason for optimism heading into next season and Smith could end up on the Comeback list.

Reilly Smith (F Boston)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 81 GP-13 G-27 A-40 PTS

Last Season Stats: 82 GP-20 G-31 A-51 PTS

Then: He’s without a contract extension because the Bruins reportedly believe he caught lightning in a bottle in 2013-14 and is unlikely to repeat that 20-goal, 51-point campaign. It was certainly an unexpected breakthrough for the 22-year-old former third-round pick of Dallas who was widely seen as a throw-in alongside Loui Eriksson in the deal that sent Tyler Seguin to the Stars. Smith, who only had 3 goals and 9 points in 37 games as a rookie for Dallas in 2012-13, wound up outshining Eriksson (10 goals, 37 points) for Boston, but don’t be surprised if their totals are flipped for 2014-15.

Now: Impressive on my part to not only get Smith as a Bust but Eriksson as a Comeback candidate. Eriksson did outscore Smith with 22 goals and 47 points. This is probably more in line with what was expected from both of them when they were acquired from Dallas for Seguin. Eriksson still has 60-point potential going forward, but I would expect Smith to stay in that 40- to 50-point range for next season.

(Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr) Chris Kunitz will probably never again flirt with 70 points, but he busted even beyond my expectations by topping out at 40 points, including only 17 goals, this season.
(Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr)
Chris Kunitz will probably never again flirt with 70 points, but he busted even beyond my expectations by topping out at 40 points, including only 17 goals, this season.

Chris Kunitz (F Pittsburgh)

Playoff Stats: 5 GP-1 G-2 A-3 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 74 GP-17 G-23 A-40 PTS

Last Season Stats: 78 GP-35 G-33 A-68 PTS

Then: If Crosby misses any length of time, that obviously impacts Kunitz as well. Even with Sid healthy, most believe Kunitz overachieved in 2013-14 with 35 goals and 68 points. The Penguins would be satisfied with another 30-30 showing in 2014-15, which sounds more reasonable.

Now: Kunitz was definitely a Bust this season, especially since Crosby stayed healthy in playing 77 games. This was a bad season for Kunitz, but you can probably split the difference for next season and expect 25 goals and 50 points. I guess that might make him a Comeback candidate — from one extreme to the other.

David Perron (F Edmonton/Pittsburgh)

Playoff Stats: 5 GP-0 G-1 A-1 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 81 GP-17 G-24 A-41 PTS

Last Season Stats: 78 GP-28 G-29 A-57 PTS

Then: He rode a wave of momentum and slightly overachieved in his debut season with the Oilers, so he’ll have his work cut out for him to match those totals (28 goals, 57 points) in 2014-15.

Now: Perron also took a step back, getting off to a slow start with the Oilers before getting traded to the Penguins in January. Perron caught fire on Crosby’s line, but it didn’t last and he flamed out down the stretch, failing to score a goal in Pittsburgh’s playoff loss to the Rangers. Perron will be entering a contract year next season, so look for him to bounce back if he’s playing with Crosby from start to finish — yes, another Comeback candidate for 2015-16.

Shane Doan (F Arizona)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 79 GP-14 G-22 A-36 PTS

Last Season Stats: 69 GP-23 G-24 A-47 PTS

Then: He’s not getting any younger and has had some hard miles on his body over the years given his power-forward playing style. Brenden Morrow and Ryan Smyth tailed off in recent years, and Doan could be due for a similar decline in 2014-15 at age 38.

Now: Indeed, Doan appeared to lose a step this season as his Coyotes sunk to the bottom of the standings. Apparently Doan is feeling rejuvenated about next season, but I wouldn’t expect much more from him or Arizona in general. Doan might hit 20 goals and 40 points, but I fully expect the Coyotes to be in the Auston Matthews sweepstakes.

 (Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr) James Neal failed to hit 40 points in his first season with Nashville, but it wasn't as bad as it sounds considering he put up Cy Young numbers with 23 goals and only 14 assists. Now that he's comfortable with his new surroundings and has developed chemistry with Filip Forsberg, Neal should be closer to 60 points again next season.
(Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr)
James Neal failed to hit 40 points in his first season with Nashville, but it wasn’t as bad as it sounds considering he put up Cy Young numbers with 23 goals and only 14 assists. Now that he’s comfortable with his new surroundings and has developed chemistry with Filip Forsberg, Neal should be closer to 60 points again next season.

James Neal (F Nashville)

Playoff Stats: 6 GP-4 G-1 A-5 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 67 GP-23 G-14 A-37 PTS

Last Season Stats: 59 GP-27 G-34 A-61 PTS

Then: He scored 40 goals with Evgeni Malkin as a full-time linemate three years ago, matched that output during the lockout season and was on pace for 38 goals in 2013-14 if not for injuries to both himself and Malkin. Neal will be fortunate to score 30 goals alongside whoever centres Nashville’s top line in 2014-15. It will be a significant downgrade and Neal’s numbers will likely reflect that.

Now: I was certainly right in that description, even though Neal did show decent chemistry with rookie sensation Filip Forsberg. Because of that connection, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Neal score 30-plus next season as a Comeback candidate. But for the season that was, especially the regular season, the numbers don’t lie in terms of being a Bust.

Patrick Sharp (F Chicago)

Playoff Stats: 23 GP-5 G-10 A-15 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 68 GP-16 G-27 A-43 PTS

Last Season Stats: 82 GP-34 G-44 A-78 PTS

Then: He was hell-bent on making Canada’s Olympic team and played like a man possessed in the month prior to that roster announcement, which became mission accomplished. And like Kunitz in Pittsburgh, Sharp wanted to make it on his merit and not on the coattails of linemate Jonathan Toews. He’ll line up alongside Toews again in 2014-15, which makes Sharp a good bet for 30 goals and 60 points, but 78 points seemed like a stretch in 2013-14.

Now: Sharp had a pretty terrible regular season, but fortunately for the Blackhawks, he picked it up in the playoffs. Fortunate, not only because they went on a run to capture their third Stanley Cup in six years, but also because Sharp is expected to be trade bait at the upcoming draft. Chicago needs to shed salary with new contracts kicking in for Toews and Patrick Kane, so Sharp has been deemed expendable with the hope he can return a first-round pick for Chicago. His playoff experience will be valued by another team, but Sharp is more of a 50- to 60-point player than a 70-plus guy at this stage of his career.

Jonathan Bernier (G Toronto)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 58 GP-.912 Save %-2.87 GAA

Last Season Stats: 55 GP-.923 Save %-2.68 GAA

Then: He finally got to be a starter, or get the bulk of the starts for Toronto in 2013-14 after riding the pine behind Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles for three-plus seasons. Bernier played 55 games and won 26 of them (good for 16th overall), while also cracking the top 10 in save percentage at .923 (8th). Even though James Reimer somehow remains in the picture, this should be Bernier’s team going forward. Keyword is “should” as things can change quite quickly in Randy Carlyle’s world, and Bernier’s health has also been a bit suspect over the years, so he’s still a risk for regression in 2014-15. There’s a better chance that he’ll take a step backward or suffer a lengthy injury than there is of him becoming a Vezina candidate.

Now: Bernier is a victim here, with the Maple Leafs going off the rails as a whole and dragging him along for the ride. Any time a team ends up with a lottery pick, its starting goaltender is partially to blame, but Bernier wasn’t one of the bigger factors for Toronto’s sudden demise. With Mike Babcock taking over behind the bench, Bernier’s numbers could improve despite the obvious rebuilding phase the Leafs are about to embark on. But if he’s part of that retool and not traded away this off-season, I wouldn’t be picking Bernier in any fantasy leagues with goalie wins as a main category. Save percentage perhaps, but not wins.

Frans Nielsen (F N.Y. Islanders)

Playoff Stats: 7 GP-1 G-1 A-2 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 78 GP-14 G-29 A-43 PTS

Last Season Stats: 80 GP-25 G-33 A-58 PTS

Then: Likewise, he has been bumped down by the signing of Mikhail Grabovski. But Nielsen, at age 30, was coming off a career year of 25 goals and 58 points (8 and 11 more than his previous bests, respectively), so his totals will most likely be impacted in a negative way for 2014-15. Expect a 20-25 (45-point) season.

Now: Pretty much what I expected here, a good player in a reduced role resulting in decreased output. Nielsen still got extensive time on the top power-play unit, so he probably should have been closer to 20 goals, but he was never going to repeat that career year. Nielsen could split the difference next season, getting back to 20 goals and roughly 50 points.

Valtteri Filppula (F Tampa Bay)

Playoff Stats: 26 GP-4 G-10 A-14 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 82 GP-12 G-36 A-48 PTS

Last Season Stats: 75 GP-25 G-33 A-58 PTS

Then: His first year in the Sunshine State was a smashing success, finishing second in team scoring, with 58 points and a career-high 25 goals, behind only rookie sensation Ondrej Palat, with 59. A repeat is possible in 2014-15, but his role (and production) might also be lessened by a healthy Steven Stamkos and all the young talents emerging in Tampa, including potential Calder candidate Jonathan Drouin.

Now: Filppula’s totals dropped pretty significantly in the regular season and he brought up the rear on a line with Stamkos and Alex Killorn throughout the playoffs. Filppula isn’t a bad player by any means, but he’s in over his head centering a top line. I would expect him to find his way back down the depth chart next season, with Stamkos possibly shifting back to centre, which probably spells a stat-line similar to this season for Filppula.

James Wisniewski (D Columbus/Anaheim)

Playoff Stats: 0 GP-0 G-0 A-0 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 69 GP-8 G-26 A-34 PTS

Last Season Stats: 75 GP-7 G-44 A-51 PTS

Then: He tied for 7th in scoring amongst defencemen for 2013-14 behind these all-too familiar names: Karlsson, Keith, Weber, Hedman, Subban, Yandle and Pietrangelo. Is Wisniewski expected to be next on that list again? Not likely, as his 51 points overshot his previous career high by more than 20. Split the difference and have him penciled in for 40 points in 2014-15.

Now: Wisniewski was a healthy scratch throughout Anaheim’s entire playoff run, so who knows what the future holds for him. He didn’t pile up nearly as many points in the regular season either despite scoring one more goal than last season. Wisniewski will get another shot, be it in Anaheim or elsewhere, and I can’t see him doing any worse. Therefore, consider him a Comeback candidate.

Ben Scrivens (G Edmonton)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 57 GP-.890 Save %-3.16 GAA

Last Season Stats: 40 GP-.924 Save %-2.49 GAA

Then: The sample size is still pretty small on him, but he managed to put up pretty stellar numbers in 2013-14 even behind Edmonton’s shoddy defence. Minor improvements to that back end this off-season won’t be enough to save Scrivens from an onslaught of rubber on a nightly basis in 2014-15. Expectations are also sky high among the Oilers’ fan base, so he’ll certainly be scrutinized if he stumbles as was the case with Dubnyk in 2013-14.

Now: The Oilers were a mess under Dallas Eakins, so much like Bernier, that stat-line wasn’t all Scrivens’ fault. Problem is, Scrivens struggled with consistency and for that reason, he likely won’t get another opportunity to be Edmonton’s starter under new coach Todd McLellan. The Oilers will be aggressively pursuing a new No. 1 netminder via trade or free agency, which will relegate Scrivens to a backup role. He might very well show improvement statistically next season, but he won’t make enough appearances to be considered fantasy relevant.

Tom Sestito (F Vancouver)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 3 GP-0 G-1 A-1 PTS-7 PIMS

Last Season Stats: 77 GP-5 G-4 A-9 PTS-213 PIMS

Then: He was one of John Tortorella’s go-to guys (yes, that’s a fair and fitting descriptor, believe it or not), but it’s doubtful Willie Desjardins will play him as much. He certainly won’t be taking any shifts with the Sedins or seeing power-play time in 2014-15. Even with those favourable minutes, Sestito only managed 5 goals and 9 points in 77 games while being considered a “bright spot” in a very dim 2013-14 for the Canucks.

Now: As predicted, Sestito was rendered useless under Desjardins, sent down to the minors for a brief 10-game stint (1 G-0 A-1 PTS-20 PIMS in AHL) before terminating his contract and disappearing entirely. I highly doubt Sestito will resurface next season, not now that the enforcer role is essentially obsolete.

(Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports) Alex Ovechkin was the furthest thing from a bust this season. The Washington Capitals sniper scored 50-plus goals for the second straight year and sixth time in his career.
(Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)
Alex Ovechkin was the furthest thing from a bust this season. The Washington Capitals sniper scored 50-plus goals for the second straight year and sixth time in his career.

Big Fail

Alex Ovechkin (F Washington)

Playoff Stats: 14 GP-5 G-4 A-9 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 81 GP-53 G-28 A-81 PTS

Last Season Stats: 78 GP-51 G-28 A-79 PTS

Then: Call it the Barry Trotz factor. He’s always got the best out of his defencemen but rarely has he had a top-20 or even top-40 scorer in the league. I just can’t see Ovechkin scoring 50-plus goals again in 2014-15. Not to mention, his former fiancée, Russian tennis player Maria Kirilenko, called off their engagement this summer, so Ovie’s mind might be elsewhere to start the season.

Now: It was more of the same from the Great 8 this season, as Ovechkin hit it off with Trotz and kept up his torrid scoring pace. Ovechkin almost seems like a lock for 50 goals every season, and he’s only turning 30 in September, so don’t expect that trend to end in 2015-16.

Sidney Crosby (F Pittsburgh)

Playoff Stats: 5 GP-2 G-2 A-4 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 77 GP-28 G-56 A-84 PTS

Last Season Stats: 80 GP-36 G-68 A-104 PTS

Then: If his wrist is bothering him into the regular season, his playoff struggles could also carry over. A new coach could make for another adjustment, although Mike Johnston likes to play highly offensive so once his systems are in place, it could actually help not hinder Crosby. If healthy, no worries here, but that’s always an IF to be concerned about with Sid. That said, if I had the first overall pick in a points-only draft as of today, I wouldn’t shy away from him.

Now: Crosby put up 20 fewer points, which would be indicative of a bust at first glance, but when you consider he still finished third in league scoring and only three points behind the leader, Jamie Benn, it’s tough to categorize that as a bust-worthy season. Maybe by Crosby’s lofty standards, but the league was lower scoring in general and that impacted Crosby as much as anybody else. That said, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get back to triple-digits and win another Art Ross Trophy next season.

Erik Karlsson (D Ottawa)

Playoff Stats: 6 GP-1 G-3 A-4 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 82 GP-21 G-45 A-66 PTS

Last Season Stats: 82 GP-20 G-54 A-74 PTS

Then: Not a knock on him, but sadly he just doesn’t have the supporting cast to pull off 70-plus points again. Most would consider 65 a disappointment by his standards (following 78 and 74 the last two seasons), but that still would have led the league in 2013-14. Expect a slight 5- to 10-point drop again in 2014-15 even though Karlsson should be healthier having fully recovered from that torn Achilles. If he’s named Ottawa’s next captain, that extra pressure could also become a burden.

Now: Karlsson did drop another eight points, but he also scored one more goal in setting a career high. Karlsson was firing on all cylinders in the second half of the season, coming from behind to again lead all defencemen in scoring by six points. Karlsson is the furthest thing from a bust and should be the first defenceman picked in points-only fantasy leagues again next season.

Dustin Byfuglien (D Winnipeg)

Playoff Stats: 4 GP-0 G-1 A-1 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 69 GP-18 G-27 A-45 PTS

Last Season Stats: 78 GP-20 G-36 A-56 PTS

Then: This forward “experiment” can’t possibly go over well, especially given he’d rather play defence. If him and Paul Maurice start clashing over that, which seems inevitable, Big Buff could be out of town before Evander Kane.

Now: Byfuglien outlasted Kane in Winnipeg and went back to being a dominant defenceman in the process. Injuries forced that shift to the blue-line mid-season, but Byfulgien was clearly more comfortable there and played well enough to convince Maurice that’s where he belongs going forward. Byfuglien finished tied for 16th in defence scoring this season with guys by the names of Shea Weber and Duncan Keith — not bad company to be in by any means. Expect Byfuglien to put up similar numbers next season, with 15-plus goals and 40-plus points.

Joe Pavelski (F San Jose)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 82 GP-37 G-33 A-70 PTS

Last Season Stats: 82 GP-41 G-38 A-79 PTS

Then: He blew up for 41 goals in 2013-14, but expect closer to 30 in 2014-15 and for his point total to return to 65ish from 79. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau aren’t getting any younger and could also decline in production and ice-time as the Sharks attempt to rebuild from within.

Now: Joe Thornton deserves some credit here too, but Pavelski nearly matched his totals from 2013-14 and is clearly capable of finishing off the chances Thornton creates for him. Will that success continue under new coach Peter DeBoer? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’m done betting against Pavelski for the time being.

Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL, NHL Playoffs
(Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Ben Bishop, the bust? Not quite! Not even remotely close in reality, as he backstopped the Tampa Bay Lightning all the way to the Stanley Cup final. In other words, he’s legit.

Ben Bishop (G Tampa Bay)

Playoff Stats: 25 GP-.921 Save %-2.18 GAA

Regular Season Stats: 62 GP-.916 Save %-2.32 GAA

Last Season Stats: 63 GP-.924 Save %-2.23 GAA

Then: He’s coming off surgeries on his elbow and wrist, although the Lightning must not be too concerned as they gave him a two-year contract extension this off-season worth almost $6 million annually. Now he’ll need to live up to that salary going forward, which is easier said than done.

Now: Bishop lived up to his contract and proved he’s a Vezina-calibre goalie year in and year out. Bishop battled through a torn groin muscle in the Stanley Cup final, backstopping the Lightning to within two wins of lifting the Cup. It was a heroic effort by him this season, and providing he’s fully recovered for next season, there is no reason to expect anything less from big Ben. In saying that, Bishop will continue to be pushed by up-and-comer Andrei Vasilevskiy and that could cut into Bishop’s playing time, albeit not significantly.

Nick Bonino (F Vancouver)

Playoff Stats: 6 GP-1 G-2 A-3 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 75 GP-15 G-24 A-39 PTS

Last Season Stats: 77 GP-22 G-27 A-49 PTS

Then: He had a sheltered, complementary role in Anaheim, so it’s unlikely he’ll be able to fill Ryan Kesler’s skates and drive a line in Vancouver. His power-play time and production will probably dip, putting his point total closer to 40 than 50 in 2014-15.

Now: Bonino’s stat-line did dip much like I predicted, but he actually impressed me in his ability to anchor a second line. The drop-off in actual performance wasn’t as drastic as I anticipated, although he did slow down in the second half. I would assume Bonino will stay in that 15- to 20-goal range with right around 40 points next season. It is also safe to assume that Bo Horvat will overtake Bonino, which will prevent him from bouncing back with a bigger point total.

Ondrej Palat (F Tampa Bay)

Playoff Stats: 26 GP-8 G-8 A-16 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 75 GP-16 G-47 A-63 PTS

Last Season Stats: 81 GP-23 G-36 A-59 PTS

Then: An even less likely success story from 2013-14, he was a 22-year-old former seventh-round pick that hadn’t quite reached a point-per-game in the AHL and wasn’t even a roster lock with the Lightning to begin the season. But by the end, he led the team in scoring with 59 points and was nominated for the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie, finishing as a runner-up to 2013 first overall pick Nathan MacKinnon of Colorado. So is Palat the real deal or a flash in the pan? Considering he had only scored 9 and 13 goals in his first two AHL seasons before exploding for 23 in the NHL, it’s best to exercise caution with regards to Palat’s potential and temper expectations to a 20-20 (40-point) encore in 2014-15.

Now: The Triplets’ line is legit and Palat is reaping the benefits of that chemistry with Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov. I wouldn’t necessarily say Palat’s riding their coattails either. He’s a valuable contributor to Tampa Bay’s success and probably will be for years to come. Sure, Palat scored seven fewer goals as a sophomore, but he still put up four more points and nobody would call his season a Bust.

Jaromir Jagr (F New Jersey/Florida)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 77 GP-17 G-30 A-47 PTS

Last Season Stats: 82 GP-24 G-43 A-67 PTS

Then: With Selanne finally calling it quits, Jagr now seems the most likely candidate to “feel his age” in 2014-15. He came back from Europe to silence his critics once before, then enjoyed his best year since leaving in 2008-09 by recording a team-high 67 points as a 41-year-old in 2013-14. Jagr will start 2014-15 in a starring role for the Devils again, but he could finish it further down the lineup and contemplating a curtain call on his Hall-of-Fame career.

Now: Jagr’s still got game and he showed that in his brief stint with Florida (20 GP-6 G-12 A-18 PTS). Yes, his overall total is down 20 points, but Jagr salvaged his season with that post-trade production and earned a one-year contract extension from the Panthers to see if he can pick up where he left off next season. It’s entirely possible and I wouldn’t bet against Jagr putting up 50-plus points again.

Alex Steen (F St. Louis)

Playoff Stats: 6 GP-1 G-3 A-4 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 74 GP-24 G-40 A-64 PTS

Last Season Stats: 68 GP-33 G-29 A-62 PTS

Then: He set the bar high with his fast start to 2013-14, leading the entire league in scoring prior to getting concussed, but Steen projects as a 25-goal, 55-point guy in 2014-15 (down from 33-62).

Now: Steen scored nine fewer goals this season but made up for it with 11 more assists than last season. As a result, Steen’s point total went up rather than down, but I wouldn’t expect that to happen again. I think Steen could be a minor Bust next season, producing a stat-line similar to what I had predicted for him this season (25 G-30 A-55 PTS).

Marek Zidlicky (D New Jersey/Detroit)

Playoff Stats: 6 GP-0 G-0 A-0 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 84 GP-7 G-27 A-34 PTS

Last Season Stats: 81 GP-12 G-30 A-42 PTS

Then: He hadn’t hit 40 points since 2009-10 and hadn’t scored more than 10 goals since the season before that, so despite 12 goals and 42 points in 2013-14, a drop-off seems predictable for 2014-15. Zidlicky will still figure prominently in the Devils’ offence and power play, surrounded by an improved cast of forwards, but 35 points is a better benchmark.

Now: I was right about Zidlicky, but for a 38-year-old guy he’s not slowing down overly fast. He was a good fit in Detroit to end the regular season (21 GP-3 G-8 A-11 PTS) and the Red Wings are apparently interested in re-signing Zidlicky despite the fact he was pointless in the playoffs. In Zidlicky’s defence, he suffered a concussion in that series against Tampa Bay, but he’s since recovered and doesn’t plan on retiring. I would think 35 points is a possibility again depending where Zidlicky ends up.

Patrick Maroon (F Anaheim)

Playoff Stats: 16 GP-7 G-4 A-11 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 71 GP-9 G-25 A-34 PTS-82 PIMS

Last Season Stats: 62 GP-11 G-18 A-29 PTS-101 PIMS

Then: He established himself as an NHL regular in 2013-14 and earned a contract extension as a result, but his numbers (11 goals, 29 points) were largely thanks to playing alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on the top line for lengthy stints. That spot is now likely going to Dany Heatley or, if he falters, to prospect Devante Smith-Pelly, a similar power forward type to Maroon but with even more offensive upside. So Maroon is probably going to plummet down the depth chart into a bottom-six plugger/scrapper role for 2014-15, which will result in closer to 20 points than 30. Andrew Cogliano is also coming off a career-high 22 goals (four more than his previous high from 2008-09), so if his shooting percentage and fancy stats return to more normal levels, he could see a slight drop from 42 points in 2014-15.

Now: After several others auditioned in the role, Maroon ended up back alongside Getzlaf and Perry in the playoffs and made the most of his opportunity. Maroon will probably start there next season, so rather than being a Bust, he might actually be a Breakout candidate. Maroon could potentially score 15-plus goals and upwards of 40 points in 2015-16.

Eddie Lack (G Vancouver)

Playoff Stats: 4 GP-.886 Save %-3.03 GAA

Regular Season Stats: 41 GP-.921 Save %-2.45 GAA

Last Season Stats: 41 GP-.912 Save %-2.41 GAA

Then: He’s now expected to play second fiddle to Ryan Miller, so he won’t get into nearly as many games in 2014-15. His stats might still be strong, but he’s no longer a starter.

Now: Lack wasn’t great in the playoffs, or wasn’t good enough for Vancouver to get past Calgary, but he was very solid in the regular season and a big reason the Canucks even made the post-season after Miller went down with an injury. That forced Lack back into the starter role and he didn’t disappoint, at least not until the playoffs. With the way the season ended, Lack’s name has surfaced in trade rumours — that he might be available for a draft pick — because the Canucks are committed to Miller and have Jacob Markstrom knocking on the door after backstopping the Utica Comets to the AHL final. If Lack is moved to a team expecting him to be a starter, that could go either way for next season, be it a Breakout or a Bust.

Larry Fisher is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Follow him on Twitter: @LarryFisher_KDC.