THW’s Big Lists Revisited: Rookie Sleepers

Deep breathe, the NHL season is over.

Now, it is time to reflect.

Back at the beginning of September, prior to training camps and even before the prospect tournaments, I released a four-part Big List series previewing Rookie Sleeper, Breakout, Comeback and Bust candidates for the 2014-15 season. In total, I listed 378 players under the four categories, with 126 Breakout, 109 Comeback, 105 Rookie Sleeper and 38 Bust.

NHL Square LogoIn hindsight, I fared much better with the young guns — both Rookie Sleeper and Breakout — while I was pretty hit-and-miss with Comeback and missed the mark more often than not with Bust, which I admittedly found the most difficult to predict even back then.

Nevertheless, it was a fun undertaking and provided a little extra entertainment — for better or worse — over the 82-game season. Times that by 30 teams and it provided 2,460 games of enjoyment, not to mention another exhilarating edition of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Rather than rehash all 378 players, I decided to keep this recap to my 15 biggest successes and fails from each Big List. Well, except for a couple cases. I felt I had more Rookie Sleeper successes, 28 to be exact, worth noting — or bragging about — while I limited Bust to 13 of each for a grand total of 130 players, or essentially one-third of my original lists.

Without further a do, I will let the results speak for themselves, starting with the Rookie Sleeper candidates:

(Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports) Filip Forsberg had a dynamite rookie season for the Nashville Predators and probably deserved to be nominated for the Calder Trophy. Falling just short of that honour, Forsberg definitely made the Washington Capitals regret giving up on a star in the making.
(Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports)
Filip Forsberg had a dynamite rookie season for the Nashville Predators and probably deserved to be nominated for the Calder Trophy. Falling just short of that honour, Forsberg made the Washington Capitals regret giving up on a star in the making.

Big Success

Filip Forsberg (F Nashville)

Playoff Stats: 6 GP-4 G-2 A-6 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 82 GP-26 G-37 A-63 PTS

Then: He had plenty of fanfare in recent years due to success at the world juniors and being a former first-round pick, but he was stuck behind a couple other guys on this list (Calle Jarnkrok, Colton Sissons) in 2013-14. It’s very possible he’ll be the leading candidate for a roster spot in 2014-15 under new coach Peter Laviolette, who will welcome and encourage his offensive creativity.

Now: He topped my overall list and lived up to that billing by playing all 82 games with 26 goals and 63 points to finish third overall in rookie scoring, just one point behind the co-leaders, who just happen to be the next two guys on this list. Forsberg also scored the first hat trick in Predators playoff history on the day he was snubbed for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.

Johnny Gaudreau (F Calgary)

Playoff Stats: 11 GP-4 G-5 A-9 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 80 GP-24 G-40 A-64 PTS

Then: Certainly not a surprise to any Flames (or NCAA) fans, but the 2014 runaway Hobey Baker winner is not yet a household name. Maybe it’s because he wasn’t a first-round pick (4th round, 104th overall in 2011), or because he’s generously listed at 5-foot-9 (he’s probably closer to 5-7). Regardless, that could change in the early stages of 2014-15 if his skill-set translates to the pro game. He looked great in his debut to end 2013-14 and even scored a goal.

Now: Ironically No. 2 on my Top-10 list, he didn’t disappoint and might be the frontrunner for the Calder Trophy after finishing with 24 goals and 64 points while fitting in perfectly on Calgary’s new top line with Sean Monahan and Jiri Hudler. Gaudreau’s definitely diminutive but he’s also dynamic and durable, playing in 80 games and helping lead Calgary over Vancouver in the first round of playoffs.

Mark Stone, Ottawa Senators, P.K. Subban, NHL Playoffs
(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)
If you had Mark Stone among your Calder finalists prior to the season, you are either a genius or a liar. I expected him to score some goals if he got a chance in the top-six, but I didn’t anticipate him putting up 60-plus points for the Ottawa Senators. And as far as I know, nobody else did either.

Mark Stone (F Ottawa)

Playoff Stats: 6 GP-0 G-4 A-4 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 80 GP-26 G-38 A-64 PTS

Then: The guy knows how to score goals. Give him a set-up man and he might score 25 as early as this year. His skating has come a long way and he’s always had good size, so he could be a nice fit next to Mika Zibanejad on the second line.

Now: Boom, nailed it! He was a force in the second half of the season, helping lead the Senators into the playoffs by scoring 26 goals and 64 points while surging into the Calder conversation with the aforementioned two and Florida’s first overall pick, Aaron Ekblad. Stone failed to find the back of the net in Ottawa’s first-round loss to Montreal, but he was playing hurt after taking a vicious slash from P.K. Subban early in that series.

Derrick Pouliot (D Pittsburgh)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 34 GP-2 G-5 A-7 PTS

Then: Had off-season shoulder surgery, so may be getting a late start in his first pro season, but he has familiarity with new Penguins coach Mike Johnston and that could translate into increased opportunity and responsibilities as the season progresses. It wouldn’t surprise me if Pouliot was an NHL regular by season’s end, possibly even leapfrogging Olli Maatta.

Now: Bang on, again. He was No. 7 in my Top 10 and exceeded most people’s expectations by producing 2 goals and 7 points in 34 games while staking claim to a top-six role in Pittsburgh for next season. Pouliot was injured and unavailable for Pittsburgh’s first-round exit against the Rangers. With the Penguins likely losing Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff to free agency, expect Pouliot to play a prominent role on their blue-line and make my Breakout list for 2015-16.

David Pastrnak (F Boston)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 46 GP-10 G-17 A-27 PTS

Then: The Bruins don’t like to rush their prospects, but Pastrnak could be that Ryan O’Reilly type that cracks a contender’s roster out of the blue. He’d have to beat out some older prospects for any openings, but there’s room for at least one kid on the right side behind Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith. I have a hunch that Pastrnak might win that job.

Now: He didn’t make the opening-night roster but was dominating the AHL to earn a call-up and then put up 10 goals and 27 points in 46 games to finish 13th in rookie scoring. Pastrnak was really coming into his own to end the season and might be good for 50-plus points next year.

(Amy Irvin/The Hockey Writers) Nobody really knew where Jori Lehtera would slot into the St. Louis Blues' depth chart despite centering Vladimir Tarasenko in Russia during years past. Turns out, that chemistry was easily rekindled and they both reaped the benefits this season.
(Amy Irvin/The Hockey Writers)
Nobody really knew where Jori Lehtera would slot into the St. Louis Blues’ depth chart despite centering Vladimir Tarasenko in Russia during years past. Turns out, that chemistry was easily rekindled and they both reaped the benefits this season.

Jori Lehtera (F St. Louis)

Playoff Stats: 5 GP-0 G-2 A-2 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 75 GP-14 G-30 A-44 PTS

Then: He could be the best player the casual hockey fan has never heard of heading into 2014-15. He’ll be 27 in December and has been putting up good offensive numbers in Europe over the past 7 years, including the last 4 years in the KHL. He has been across the pond once before but only played 14 games in the AHL with 3 points, but that was back in 2008-09. He’s got pretty good size and lots of potential.

Now: He was No. 2 on my personal My 10 list and although not Calder eligible, he fit the bill as a first-time NHLer and he didn’t take long to adjust from Europe, recording 14 goals and 44 points, which would have put him 6th in the rookie scoring race. Lehtera didn’t do much in the playoffs, but nor did his veteran teammates as the Blues bombed out again.

Andre Burakovsky (F Washington)

Playoff Stats: 11 GP-2 G-1 A-3 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 53 GP-9 G-13 A-22 PTS

Then: All eyes will be on 2010 first-rounder Evgeny Kuznetsov who was impressive in his brief debut to end last season, but this 2013 first-rounder might steal the spotlight sooner than later or form a dynamic duo in D.C.

Now: No. 4 on My 10, Burakovsky was a bright spot from the outset but faded towards the end. He still tallied 9 goals and 22 points in 53 games to tie for 20th in rookie scoring, which was pretty impressive. Burakovsky also had a two-goal game in the playoffs, helping Washington come within a win of reaching the Eastern Conference final.

Tobias Rieder (F Arizona)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 72 GP-13 G-8 A-21 PTS

Then: The undersized German could beat out recent first-rounders Henrik Samuelsson, Max Domi and Brendan Perlini for a roster spot in an offensive role. At least those are the rumblings out of Arizona.

Now: No. 9 on My 10, Rieder solidified himself as an NHL player and earned Dave Tippett’s trust in all situations while scoring 13 goals and 21 points in 72 games. He could double that point total pretty easily next season.

Kevin Hayes New York Rangers
(Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)
Kevin Hayes took a while to adjust to the NHL pace from college, but once he got the hang of things, he was dominant and led the New York Rangers in scoring after the all-star break.

Kevin Hayes (F N.Y. Rangers)

Playoff Stats: 19 GP-2 G-5 A-7 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 79 GP-17 G-28 A-45 PTS

Then: The former first-rounder drew a lot of interest as an unrestricted free agent and joined the Rangers after not signing with the Blackhawks. He was linemates with Chris Kreider when Boston College won an NCAA championship in 2012 and they could be reunited in the Big Apple for 2014-15. First things first, Hayes has to make the team over the likes of Jesper Fast and fellow NCAA forward Ryan Haggerty.

Now: Not only did he make the team, Hayes scored 17 goals and 45 points in 79 games to finish 5th in rookie scoring. He was pretty impactful in New York’s playoff run too, a big body who should only get better going forward.

Anders Lee (F N.Y. Islanders)

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

Regular Season Stats: 76 GP-25 G-16 A-41 PTS

Then: Had an improbable finish to 2013-14 when most had already stopped watching the Islanders. It would seem unlikely for that hot streak to carry over into 2014-15, but if he happens to start on the top line with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, then the sky is the limit. But that spot is likely going to Brock Nelson, leaving Lee further down the lineup.

Now: No. 10 in my Top 10, he did see a lot of time with Tavares this season and his numbers got a boost as a result, finishing with 25 goals and 41 points in 76 games. Like Hayes, Lee has size and a good nose for the net, so he’ll be a player for years to come.

Damon Severson (D New Jersey)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 51 GP-5 G-12 A-17 PTS

Then: He’ll be competing with Adam Larsson, Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill for 1 or 2 spots on the blue-line. The others all have NHL experience, but Severson should make a pretty smooth transition as well and could see NHL time in 2014-15.

Now: He opened a lot of eyes by making the Devils out of training camp and was one of the best rookie stories prior to breaking his ankle. Severson wound up with 5 goals and 17 points in 51 games and likely secured an NHL job for next season.

Michael Hutchinson (G Winnipeg)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 38 GP-.914 Save %-2.39 GAA-2 SO

Then: Barring a last-minute trade for James Reimer or signing of Martin Brodeur/Tim Thomas/Ilya Bryzgalov, it looks like Hutchinson is set to back-up Ondrej Pavelec, who might have a short leash in 2014-15. It’s possible if Hutchinson’s AHL success translates to the NHL that he could supplant Pavelec at some point.

Now: He certainly had an impressive rookie campaign, starting 36 games and winning 21 of them, just one victory shy of rookie leader Jake Allen (22). Hutchinson had solid stats across the board, with a .914 save percentage and 2.39 goals-against average. Pavelec was the clear starter down the stretch and into the playoffs, but Hutchinson will continue to push him for playing time next season.

sharks salaries
(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)
Chris Tierney turned into a bright spot for the San Jose Sharks in an otherwise doom-and-gloom year that saw the team miss the playoffs and subsequently fire longtime head coach Todd McLellan.

Chris Tierney (F San Jose)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 43 GP-6 G-15 A-21 PTS

Then: He’s been a big-time scorer in the OHL and could be their next Logan Couture, although it seems Tierney is destined to start in the AHL.

Now: The Couture name-drop might have been a stretch, but Tierney was on a tear to end the season and looks like a lock to be in San Jose next year after racking up 6 goals and 21 points in 43 games.

Rickard Rakell (F Anaheim)

Playoff Stats: 15 GP-1 G-0 A-1 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 71 GP-9 G-22 A-31 PTS

Then: Might have the inside track on the third-line centre job after an 18-game audition in 2013-14. He only managed 4 assists in the regular season but scored his first NHL goal in the playoffs. There should be more to come in 2014-15.

Now: He scored 9 goals and 31 points in 71 games, filling a key role for the Ducks and quietly finishing 12th in rookie scoring. Rakell only scored once in Anaheim’s playoff run, but it was an overtime winner against Winnipeg in the first round. He’ll continue to centre the third line next season and for years to come.

Dmitrij Jaskin (F St. Louis)

Playoff Stats: 6 GP-0 G-1 A-1 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 54 GP-13 G-5 A-18 PTS

Then: Similar in size but 6 years younger than Lehtera, Jaskin got a taste of the NHL in 2013-14, only managing 1 goal and 2 points in 18 games. He’s capable of much more, especially if he makes the team out of training camp in an offensive role for 2014-15.

Now: He saw a bit of time in the minors again, but made the jump and established himself as an NHL player going forward by scoring 13 goals and 18 points in 54 games. Jaskin has a lot of upside and could double those totals as early as next season.

Alexander Wennberg (F Columbus)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 68 GP-4 G-16 A-20 PTS

Then: Not sure if there’s room for any new kids in Columbus’s forward ranks, but Wennberg could force his way onto the roster. Marko Dano might also be in the mix, but neither would be hurt by some AHL seasoning as they adjust to the North American game.

Now: A rash of injuries rushed Wennberg into the fold in Columbus, but he held his own and got better as the season progressed, finishing with 4 goals and 20 points. If the Blue Jackets are healthy to start next season, he’ll be in a battle to make the opening-night roster, but Wennberg will definitely be a regular sooner than later.

Petr Mrazek Red Wings
(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
Petr Mrazek emerged as the Detroit Red Wings’ surprise starter for the playoffs and didn’t disappoint despite the team’s first-round exit against eventual finalist Tampa Bay. Expect Mrazek to take another step towards becoming an elite netminder next season.

Petr Mrazek (G Detroit)

Playoff Stats: 7 GP-.925 Save %-2.11 GAA-2 SO

Regular Season Stats: 29 GP-.918 Save %-2.38 GAA-3 SO

Then: He’s probably capable of being an NHL backup already, but he’ll have to bide his time in the AHL again with Detroit bringing back Jonas Gustavsson to play behind Jimmy Howard. Fortunately for Mrazek, they are both pretty injury-prone, so he should still get some starts in 2014-15.

Now: After shining in spot-duty during the regular season, Mrazek stole the starting job from Howard for the post-season and nearly backstopped Detroit to an upset of Tampa Bay in the first round. Mrazek will be assured of a spot on the NHL roster to start next season and is clearly the goalie of the future for the Red Wings.

Jiri Sekac (F Montreal/Anaheim)

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

Regular Season Stats: 69 GP-9 G-14 A-23 PTS

Then: One of the more heralded free-agent signings out of Europe, he should have a decent shot at making the Canadiens out of training camp. He could be the Michael Raffl of 2014-15.

Now: Sekac showed lots of potential as a rookie, that he has the tools to be an effective NHL player, but he struggled to put it all together. He was surprisingly traded from Montreal to Anaheim, where he bounced around the lineup and was unable to secure a regular role in the playoffs. It was still a decent debut, with lots of room for improvement going forward.

Teemu Pulkkinen (F Detroit)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 31 GP-5 G-3 A-8 PTS

Then: He had an excellent first season in North America and even got into 3 games with the Red Wings in 2013-14, but there are just too many young guns ahead of him (not to mention healthy veterans) to start 2014-15.

Now: Pulkkinen played more than a third of the season in Detroit and made enough of an impression that he’ll likely crack the opening-night roster next season when he could be in for a big breakout. He scored 14 goals in 16 AHL playoff games after netting 34 goals in only 46 regular-season games down on the farm, so expect that scoring ability to translate to the NHL in the near future.

Vincent Trocheck (F Florida)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 50 GP-7G 15 A-22 PTS

Then: Another one of those former 100-point OHLers, he surprisingly got into 20 games with the Panthers in 2013-14, scoring 5 goals and 8 points. With Gerard Gallant now coaching and preferring to play an offensive style, that could bode well for Trocheck’s chances of cracking the roster in 2014-15. I think he’s more likely to start in the AHL and work his way back up.

Now: Trocheck did spend a bit of time in the AHL, but once he got up to the NHL, he made it difficult for the Panthers to send him back down. Trocheck more than doubled his games played and points from the previous season, establishing himself as an NHL player going forward and a potential Breakout candidate for next season.

Adam Lowry (F Winnipeg)

Playoff Stats: 4 GP-1 G-2 A-3 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 80 GP-11 G-12 A-23 PTS

Then: He’s a big kid that isn’t too far off from being an NHL regular. It would be a shock to see him stick out of training camp, but he should get a cup of coffee in 2014-15.

Now: Lowry exceeded everybody’s expectations this season, including my own, by cracking Winnipeg’s opening-night roster and climbing up the depth chart as the season progressed. Come playoffs, Lowry was arguably the Jets’ best player. He’ll probably settle back into that third-line centre role for next season, but Lowry certainly made a name for himself in 2014-15.

Barclay Goodrow (F San Jose)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 60 GP-4 G-8 A-12 PTS

Then: He was signed as an over-ager out of the OHL and has the pro size to play a depth role. Some have suggested Goodrow could be the Tanner Pearson of 2014-15, but that might be a stretch.

Now: Goodrow did in fact earn a roster spot in San Jose, which probably came out of left field for most casual fans. He didn’t produce a ton of points, but he became a pretty important player in terms of killing penalties and providing energy. It’ll be interesting to see where Goodrow slots in next season, now that Peter DeBoer has replaced Todd McLellan as the Sharks’ coach.

John Klingberg Stars
(Michael Connell/Texas Stars Hockey)
John Klingberg, the $30-million-dollar man! Didn’t see that kind of star in the making, but boy does he ever have a bright (and rich) future with the Dallas Stars.

John Klingberg (D Dallas)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 65 GP-11 G-29 A-40 PTS

Then: He got his feet wet in the AHL to end 2013-14, with 1 assist in 3 games, and will likely start there again to better adjust to the North American game. There are spots available in Dallas and he could challenge for them, but he’d have to beat out Jordie Benn and Kevin Connauton, among others.

Now: I didn’t exactly predict a 40-point, near Calder-candidate season from Klingberg, but nor did anybody else. He made my list as a long-shot, but Klingberg made the most of his opportunity after getting called up to Dallas and has since signed a seven-year extension worth almost $30 million. Safe to say he’s no longer a sleeper in any way, shape or form.

Bo Horvat (F Vancouver)

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

Regular Season Stats: 68 GP-13 G-12 A-25 PTS

Then: He’s going to be an NHL player, it’s just a matter of when and what role. He’s already a mature beyond his years and has the size that Vancouver lacks down the middle. It’s NHL or back to junior for Horvat this year, so it wouldn’t shock me to see him earn a 9-game audition to start the season and then go from there.

Now: Horvat went from there to becoming a legitimate NHL player as a teenager — he turned 20 in April — and is now a prime Breakout candidate for next season. Horvat worked his way up to the second line and a scoring role by the playoffs and it’s unlikely he’ll take a step back.

Chris Terry (F Carolina)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 57 GP-11 G-9 A-20 PTS

Then: He had a 100-point season in the OHL and has worked to become a point-per-game player in the AHL as well. He’s similar to Zach Boychuk in that he’s small by NHL standards and almost needs to play in a scoring role, which might not be available again in 2014-15.

Now: Terry got off to a hot start under new coach Bill Peters, but then he got hurt and faded from the scene in the second half. He’ll need to prove himself all over again next season, but this season taught us not to write-off Terry’s career just yet. He could emerge as a Mike Hoffman type in the future.

Micheal Ferland (F Calgary)

Playoff Stats: 9 GP-3 G-2 A-5 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 26 GP-2 G-3 A-5 PTS

Then: He’s a fourth guy from Calgary to look out for, but he’s more of an energy player. Reminds me a lot of Jordin Tootoo when he was an effective player, or Steve Downie for that matter.

Now: Ferland definitely looked like Downie in the playoffs, getting the best of Kevin Bieksa and the Canucks in the first round. Some even compared him to Milan Lucic, but that’s probably a level above Ferland’s ability. Nevertheless, he’ll be a fun player to watch going forward and might just be his own player, Micheal Ferland. And yes, it’s “e” before “a” in Micheal.

Vladislav Namestnikov (F Tampa Bay)

Playoff Stats: 12 GP-0 G-1 A-1 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 43 GP-9 G-7 A-16 PTS

Then: Somewhat similar to Pulkkinen’s situation in Detroit, Namestnikov is probably good enough to play in the NHL in 2014-15, but Tampa Bay has too many other up-and-comers ahead of him in the pecking order. He got into 4 games in 2013-14 and should see at least a handful again, but earning a full-time role appears unlikely.

Now: Namestnikov took a big step towards becoming a full-time NHLer and now it’s almost expected that he’ll be on the opening-night roster for next season. Namestnikov didn’t do much in the playoffs, but he showed why he was a late first-rounder by flashing his offensive upside in the regular season.

(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) No, that's not Andrei Vasilevskiy, but rather Kristers Gudlevskis in what might go down as one of the only photos of him ever wearing a Tampa Bay Lightning jersey. Gudlevskis was looking like a legit prospect after stoning Canada at the Olympics, but he struggled in the AHL this season and now has an uncertain future in Tampa's system.
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
No, that’s not Andrei Vasilevskiy, but rather Kristers Gudlevskis in what might go down as one of the only photos of him ever wearing a Tampa Bay Lightning jersey. Gudlevskis was looking like a legit prospect after stoning Canada at the Olympics, but he struggled in the AHL this season and now has an uncertain future in Tampa’s system.

Big Fail

Brandon Gormley (D Arizona)

Playoff Stats: 5 GP-1 G-4 A-5 PTS (AHL)

Regular Season Stats: 27 GP-2 G-2 A-4 PTS (NHL)

Then: He’s been on the cusp for several years already as a former first-rounder in 2010, but Gormley is going to get more opportunity in 2014-15 and should secure a full-time spot with the Coyotes.

Now: Injuries played a factor, but Gormley left a lot to be desired again this season. He’s now 23 years old and needs to establish himself sooner than later to remain relevant and avoid being labeled a bust. Defencemen do take longer to develop and he did finish strong in the AHL playoffs, so perhaps there is still reason for optimism with Gormley.

Petri Kontiola (F Toronto)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 11 GP-0 G-0 A-0 PTS (AHL)

Then: He’s not Calder eligible in that he’ll turn 30 in October, but he’s only played 12 NHL games to date and that was with Chicago back in 2007-08. Since then, he’s developed a decent scoring touch in the KHL and will try to bring that to the Leafs in 2014-15. But he’ll be in tough just trying to crack the roster, likely competing with Peter Holland, Mike Santorelli and Trevor Smith, plus 2014 first-rounder William Nylander and 2013 first-rounder Frederik Gauthier, for the final 2 or 3 centre spots behind Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri.

Now: Kontiola was a bust for Toronto, failing to even play a game with the Leafs and also failing miserably in his brief stint with the Marlies before heading back to the KHL. That’s likely the last we’ve seen of him on this side of the Atlantic.

Alexander Khokhlachev (F Boston)

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

Regular Season Stats: 3 GP-0 G-0 A-0 PTS

Then: He might be penciled into a roster spot heading into training camp and has given no reason to doubt his capabilities of locking it up. It will be a battle, but his pro experience and success with Providence in 2013-14 might be the deciding factor.

Now: Khokhlachev is still a solid prospect after producing 15 goals and 43 points in 61 regular-season AHL games, but he fell short of my expectations for 2014-15. I was confident that he’d become an NHL player, so confident that I made him No. 1 on my personal top-10 list of potential Rookie Sleepers. Perhaps we can blame Claude Julien for not giving him that opportunity, but unlike Pastrnak, he didn’t exactly force his way onto the roster either. Maybe next year?

Kristers Gudlevskis (G Tampa Bay)

Playoff Stats: 3 GP-.833 Save %-4.96 GAA (AHL)

Regular Season Stats: 46 GP-.900 Save %-2.81 GAA (AHL)

Then: He came out of nowhere last year, standing on his head with Latvia against Canada in the Olympics and even seeing limited action with the Lightning. Tampa signed Evgeny Nabokov as a veteran backup and Gudlevskis is expected to battle top prospect Andrei Vasilevskiy for AHL playing time, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get into some big-league games again in 2014-15.

Now: Gudlevskis had a bad year, making that Olympic performance look more like a fluke. He was especially bad in the AHL playoffs and will now have to battle with Adam Wilcox, an NCAA standout, to keep the starter job for the Syracuse Crunch next season. With Vasilevskiy now firmly entrenched as Ben Bishop’s backup, Gudlevskis’s future in Tampa’s organization is iffy at best and he could end up back in Europe before long.

Ryan Sproul (D Detroit)

Playoff Stats: 5 GP-0 G-0 A-0 PTS (AHL)

Regular Season Stats: 66 GP-5 G-19 A-24 PTS (AHL)

Then: There does appear to be potential for a rookie blue-liner to make the Red Wings out of training camp and Sproul has to be the favourite now that Adam Almquist left to play in the KHL. Sproul has a high offensive ceiling but can also be mistake-prone at times, so it’ll be interesting to watch his continued development in 2014-15.

Now: Sproul was a big disappointment this season, taking a significant step back in his development after scoring 11 goals and 32 points as an AHL rookie in 2013-14. He needs to have a good off-season and great training camp to get back in the good books with Jeff Blashill, who was recently promoted to Detroit’s bench boss from AHL Grand Rapids.

Jake McCabe (D Buffalo)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 57 GP-5 G-24 A-29 PTS (AHL)

Then: There’s going to be at least 2 spots for young blue-liners in 2014-15 and he acquainted himself quite well in a seven-game stint to end 2013-14. Some time in the AHL wouldn’t hurt him, but he might stick in the NHL right out of the gate.

Now: McCabe was decent in his first full pro season, but he only got into two NHL games after playing seven to end off last season. He’ll be back in the mix for an NHL roster spot to start next season under new coach Dan Bylsma, but the Sabres have plenty of good young defencemen, so McCabe still has his work cut out for him.

Brenden Kichton (D Winnipeg)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 65 GP-8 G-21 A-29 PTS (AHL)

Then: Enjoyed an impressive AHL debut after dominating the WHL for a couple seasons. Kichton might have a better shot at a roster spot than 2013 first-rounder Josh Morrissey.

Now: Kichton also took a step back this season and failed to earn a call-up despite Winnipeg’s defence corps being decimated by injuries. Instead, guys like Ben Chiarot got into 40 games and leapfrogged Kichton in the pecking order going forward.

Nicolas Kerdiles (F Anaheim)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 51 GP-9 G-17 A-26 PTS (AHL)

Then: Another candidate for that vacant third-line role, likely slated for a youngster. He had 1 goal and 4 points in 6 AHL games after turning pro to end 2013-14, and some believe he could beat out Rakell for that spot.

Now: Kerdiles was behind Rickard Rakell and William Karlsson from the outset and didn’t exactly dominate the AHL as a rookie. Karlsson has since been traded and Nate Thompson is likely going to miss the start of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery, so it’s possible Kerdiles could be a Rookie Sleeper again for next season.

Joel Armia (F Buffalo/Winnipeg)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 54 GP-12 G-21 A-33 PTS (AHL)

Then: He gradually got better throughout 2013-14, his first season in North America. Now that he’s made the adjustments, Armia could push for a spot with the Sabres in 2014-15. He still could be the next Thomas Vanek.

Now: Armia saw only a modest increase in his AHL numbers and struggled to adapt to his change of scenery after being packaged to Winnipeg in the blockbuster Evander Kane for Tyler Myers trade. Armia will be in Winnipeg next season, but most likely with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. Going forward, it might be easier for Armia to earn a role in the Jets’ organization than it would have been with the Sabres, especially if Winnipeg allows wingers Michael Frolik and Drew Stafford to leave as unrestricted free agents this summer.

Jussi Rynnas (G Dallas)

Playoff Stats: 2 GP-.922 Save %-3.02 GAA (AHL)

Regular Season Stats: 2 GP-.841 Save %-4.57 GAA (NHL)

Then: He could be this year’s Marek Mazanec. He’ll start as No. 3 on the depth chart behind Kari Lehtonen and Anders Lindback, but Rynnas had a phenomenal 2013-14 back home in Finland and could steal the show if Lehtonen was to get injured.

Now: Rynnas was really good in the AHL, also posting a .920 save percentage in 39 regular-season appearances, but he failed to impress in his brief NHL stint, which prompted the Stars to trade for Jhonas Enroth. With the writing on the wall and Dallas wanting to push former first-rounder Jack Campbell into the starting role down on the farm team, Rynnas agreed to have his contract terminated for next season and has already signed in the KHL.

Kasperi Kapanen (F Pittsburgh)

Playoff Stats: 7 GP-3 G-2 A-5 PTS (AHL)

Regular Season Stats: 41 GP-11 G-10 A-21 PTS (Finland)

Then: The Penguins have some holes in their lineup and new coaching staff in charge of plugging them. Kapanen will be given every opportunity to make this team and Mike Johnston is sure to like his skill level. If he sticks out of training camp on a line with Crosby or Malkin and chemistry develops, then look out for him in the Calder race.

Now: Kapanen decided to spend another season in Finland before joining Pittsburgh’s farm team this spring. He was pretty good in the AHL playoffs, so perhaps I was just a year early on Kapanen being a Rookie Sleeper. Watch out for him next season if he cracks Pittsburgh’s roster out of training camp.

Bogdan Yakimov (F Edmonton)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 57 GP-12 G-16 A-28 PTS (AHL)

Then: A big Russian coming off a decent KHL season who looked promising in development camp this summer. He could be the next Alexei Mikhnov, but many feel he’ll be a serviceable bottom-six centre sooner than later.

Now: Not a terrible AHL debut for Yakimov, but not a great one either. He was a standout early on in Edmonton’s training camp, but took a while to get going after getting demoted to the minors. Yakimov will be joined next season by fellow Russian forward Anton Slepyshev, so they should help each other push towards the NHL.

Jerry D’Amigo (F Columbus/Buffalo)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 9 GP-0 G-0 A-0 PTS (NHL)

Then: He’s getting a change of scenery from Toronto, but ice time won’t come any easier in Columbus as he’ll be in a battle to crack the Blue Jackets as a fourth-liner or extra forward.

Now: D’Amigo didn’t last long in Columbus, getting shipped off to Buffalo where he got into nine games but failed to produce any points. He only scored 9 goals and 26 points in 59 combined AHL games, so it’s probably safe to forget about him going forward.

Magnus Nygren (D Montreal)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 15 GP-4 G-6 A-10 PTS (AHL)

Then: Lots of people are assuming Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi will ascend to full-time duty with the Habs next season, but Nygren is getting overlooked despite being named the top defenceman in Sweden in 2013-14. Nygren could overtake them both and become a regular sooner than later.

Now: Nygren wound up missing most of the season with a suspected concussion and has since signed in the Swedish league for next season, so he’ll be returning home rather than sticking it out in North America. There was an incident on New Year’s that saw his brother allegedly get mugged in Burlington, Ont., so that might have scared off Nygren from spending another season with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. It’s too bad, though, because he was productive before getting hurt.

Shayne Gostisbehere (D Philadelphia)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 2 GP-0 G-0 A-0 PTS (NHL)

Then: Had the Flyers not signed Michael Del Zotto when Kimmo Timonen was sidelined, he could have had a chance to play that offensive role. Ron Hextall wants his young blue-liners to develop in the AHL, but Gostisbehere might force his way onto the roster midway through 2014-15.

Now: Gostisbehere lost this season to a torn ACL while playing for the Flyers after being a point-per-game player in the AHL — 5 assists in 5 games — to start his pro career. Assuming he’s fully recovered for training camp, Gostisbehere will be an even bigger Rookie Sleeper for next season.

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