Every year there are young players across the NHL who finally have their breakout seasons. Some players in this list you could argue have already experienced their breakout years. However, we will be taking a look at five young NHL players who are poised to not necessarily break out but explode and become stars during the 2022-23 season.
Young NHL Players Ready to be Stars
Patrik Laine comes in as the oldest player on this list at 24 years old. Many thought Laine would become a superstar after his three 30-plus goal years to start his career, which included a 44-goal year. However, since then, he hasn’t managed to reach the 30-goal mark again. Laine was shipped to the Columbus Blue Jackets back in 2021 and last season he began to find his footing once more.
He posted 56 points in as many games, including 26 goals, and inked a brand new four-year deal this offseason with the Jackets. This alone would be a good indicator of his projected upward trajectory this season. However, Laine will also have one of the league’s premier playmakers on his wing this year in newcomer Johnny Gaudreau. Having Gaudreau feeding him the puck all year makes Laine a prime candidate to have his best season to date as he looks to reach the 40-plus goal mark once more.
Tim Stutzle put up an impressive 58 points in his second season with the Ottawa Senators last year. The 20-year-old German-born forward is looking to build on his solid season and this year he has the cast to help him do it. The Senators acquired Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux this offseason and they will begin the year flanking Stuetzle.
Having a veteran like Giroux who is also an elite passer, and one of the league’s top snipers in Debrincat on his wings is a recipe for success for Stuetzle. The young forward is poised to explode offensively and could finish the year at over a point per game. Stuetzle has all the tools necessary to become a star in the league and it’s only a matter of time before he does just that. Luckily for the Senators, he’ll have lots of opportunities after signing an eight-year 8.3 million AAV deal.
Cole Caufield had a rollercoaster rookie season last year. He managed only one goal in 30 games before bouncing back with 22 to finish the year under Martin St. Louis. He prepares for a sophomore season that will see him start on a line with new captain Nick Suzuki. Caufield has looked in mid-season form during the preseason and is ready to live up to the “Goal Caufield” nickname this year. The Montreal Canadiens sniper could hit the 40-goal plateau for the first time in his career and cement himself as one of the league’s premier goal scorers.
Alexis Lafreniere is a player on this list that hasn’t had his breakout year yet. The former first-overall pick has underwhelmed to begin his career in New York. Lafreniere managed only 31 points last year, as he’s struggled to find his footing offensively at the NHL level. Lafreniere turns 21 next week and there’s no denying the young forward’s talent.
This year, the New York Rangers are going to be a top team in the NHL. Lafreniere should take a step and be a big part of the team’s success. If he can get time in the top six with the likes of Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, and Chris Kreider as well as some power play minutes, then you can expect him to break out offensively. Lafreniere is still beaming with offensive potential just waiting to be unlocked. Hopefully, it’s the year he comes into his own offensively and blossoms into a star for the Rangers,
Jack Hughes is probably the most established forward on this list. Some may say Hughes is already a star, but injuries have held him back from showcasing it over a full season. Hughes did have an impressive 56 points in 49 games last year and looks to build on that. The New Jersey Devils acquired Ondrej Palat from the Tampa Bay Lightning this offseason. The former Lightning winger should provide Hughes with some stability on his wing this season.
With the Devils trending upward, good health to start the year, and a new linemate, the stars are aligning for Hughes. At only 21 years old Jack Hughes could legitimately cement himself as one of the top centers in the league this year. Hughes’ 56 points in 49 games would’ve seen him on a 93-point pace over an 82-game span. If he can remain healthy and maintain those numbers he will become a bonafide NHL superstar.
Even after breaking out like most of these young NHL players have, oftentimes that’s not enough to declare them stars. They all need to explode offensively this year to earn that title and they all have the potential to do so. These five young players all undoubtedly have immense levels of talent. They will become stars in this league at some point as they’re just too talented to falter. However, if healthy they all have a legitimate chance to blossom into NHL stars as soon as this season.
jAck hughes pic.twitter.com/rPLzHHeQ1E
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) September 29, 2021