The Avalanche Ahead — Breakouts and Disappointments Part 1


With the 2013/14 season rapidly approaching – 27 days!!!! – it’s time to look towards the upcoming season with an eye on expectations.

Every year, every team has its breakout players; the guys who rise to prominence either as a rookie, totally out of nowhere, or as an established player making a big jump. Each team also has its share of disappointments (some more than others). Over the next several days, we’ll look at three of each for the Avalanche for 2013/14 and just why their name is mentioned.

April 15 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) checks Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Adrian Aucoin (33) during the first period of the game at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

We’ll start with the good and our first breakout candidate of the year. It’s not exactly the most surprising pick in the world but expect a huge year out of none other than the captain of the Avs, Gabriel Landeskog.

Landy came into the league a highly-regarded prospect – second overall pick in the 2011 Draft – and revered as a leader of the highest order. He did not disappoint, scoring 22 times (five of which were game-winners) for 52 points. For his efforts, Landy was named the winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year. He was also given the team’s captaincy in the off-season, making him the youngest captain in NHL history, narrowly beating out Sidney Crosby.

Hard to follow that up, right? Well, yeah, actually that’s true. With the season shortened to 48 games, he probably wasn’t going to top his 52 points from the year before but surely, Landy would take his game up another notch and make himself an elite player? Yeah, about that.

When he wasn’t battling injury – a nasty concussion gave him trouble for awhile – he was battling inconsistency on his way to just 9 goals and 17 points in 36 games, including a big fat goose egg on the power play. The latter is unlikely to repeat itself.

So if you haven’t jumped to your own conclusions as to why he’s a breakout candidate, you may be asking your computer screen “so why is he a breakout candidate?” Well I’m glad you asked because it might be rude of me to just talk and talk without any provocation.

Firstly, he’s unlikely to deal with injury issues like he had last year. Going back to Junior, he’s historically a durable player and he’s got the size (6’1” 205) to avoid those nagging little injuries.

Secondly, history is on his side as a second overall pick. For forwards, year two seems to typically be the year where they really take the next step. Eric Staal and Evgeni Malkin both hit 100 points in year two, Jason Spezza and Tyler Seguin made significant jumps, ditto Bobby Ryan. I understand that it’s technically year three for Landy but last year was only 36 games and almost doesn’t really count. This will be his second “full” season and history says he’ll blow up.

Thirdly, I mean, watch this and you’ll get why he’s a breakout candidate.

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Lastly, he’s gonna have talent around him AND he’ll likely avoid other teams’ top defensive pairings as that duty will fall on the Ryan O’Reilly/Matt Duchene/PA Parenteau line. Playing with a playmaker the quality of Paul Stastny and a veteran scoring winger like Alex Tanguay will only benefit the young Landeskog.

Look for Landy to break out in a big way this year. He’s playing with two guys known for their playmaking skills and someone has to be the benefactor of that. He’ll likely see his share of power play time and should stay healthy this season. I’m not saying he’ll hit the 100-point mark but 40 goals and 80+ could be a real possibility.

If the Avs want to turn things around and take aim at the playoffs, a breakout season from Landeskog will be absolutely necessary.

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