Nothing is ever for certain going into the NHL season. The best players are always met with certain expectations and are paid the way they are to meet them. But at the same time, there are never-ending circumstances and reasonings for a player to have a “down” year. These are players who were considered to have had “down” years in 2016-17 and are expected to bounce back with better stat-lines in 2017-’18.
Corey Perry (ANA)
- 2016-’17 stat line: 19-34-53 pts. in 82 GP
- The 2016-’17 season was full of bad breaks for the Ducks’ winger who has 717 points in 886 career NHL games. His 19 goals and 8.8% shooting percentage were the lowest totals of his career since the 2006-’07 season. Anaheim knows that their big stars in Getzlaf and Perry are no longer kids, and the two should approach this upcoming season with a sense of urgency, knowing their window is closing. A shooting percentage that low is nearly impossible to sustain for a player of Perry’s caliber, and after three OT playoff-winning goals in last year’s playoffs, expect Perry’s point and goal totals to rise in ‘17-’18.
- 2017-’18 stat line prediction: 30-35-65 pts.
Matt Duchene (COL)
- 2016-’17 stat line: 18-23-41 pts. in 77 GP
- The entire Colorado Avalanche team sort of imploded into itself last season, and center Matt Duchene felt the effects of one of the worst regular seasons by a team in history. After the second-lowest goal total, lowest point total, and lowest +/- of his career, Duchene will be looking to perform better in every aspect of the game this season. The 26-year-old has made it known to the public that he no longer wants to be part of Avs roster this season. Expect the team’s no. 1B center to boost his play and point totals this season, in order to garner interest from teams lacking at the center position.
- 2017-’18 stat line prediction: 25-30-55 pts.
Anze Kopitar (LAK)
- 2016-’17 stat line: 12-40-52 pts. in 76 GP
- Prior to the start of the ‘16-’17 season, Kopitar signed a monstrous 8-year, $80 million contract, which put him in the top five highest-paid players in the NHL. How did the now-30 year old no. 1 center respond? With the lowest goal and point totals of his career. Like Corey Perry, Kopitar shot at the lowest percentage of his career: a lousy 8%. A simply unattainable number for a player like Kopitar, who has proven a scoring touch in his 10 NHL seasons. Expect the Kings’ captain to step up in 2017-’18.
- 2017-’18 stat line prediction: 25-40-65 pts.
Henrik Lundqvist (NYR)
- 2016-’17 stat line: 2.74 GAA, .910 Sv. %, 2 SO in 57 GP
- By far the most important player in the New York Rangers franchise since his debut in the 2005-’06 season, “Hank” had the worst NHL season of his career last year. Posting career lows in Goals-Against-Average and Save % in ‘16-’17, it is arguable that Lundqvist also played behind the worst defensive core to have ever been suited up in front of him. After letting Antti Raanta (ARZ) start a good amount of games so he could work with goaltending guru Benoit Allaire, Lundqvist performed exceptionally well in the playoffs, posting a 2.25 GAA and a .927 Sv. %, both stats being up there with his career postseason best. Now, with a much improved D-core in front of him, thanks to the buyout of statistical black-hole Dan Girardi and the arrivals of statistical revelation Kevin Shattenkirk and young, promising Anthony DeAngelo, expect the King to bounce back in a big way in 2017-’18.
- 2017-’18 stat line prediction: 2.35 GAA, .920 Sv. %, 4 SO
Alex Ovechkin (WSH)
- 2016-’17 stat line: 33-36-69 pts. in 82 GP
- By no means is a season in which a player scores 30+ goals and almost 70 points a disappointment of any kind. But Alex Ovechkin is not just any player, and his 33 goals were the lowest in a full season from Ovi since 2010-’11, his 69 points- the second-lowest total of his career. But last year saw the Caps boast one of their deepest forward groups in years, and as a result, Ovi was not counted on to provide the majority of the offense. The 32-year-old Russian superstar saw his average ice-time drop almost two minutes from ‘15-’16, and his shooting percentage was the lowest it’s been since 2010-’11. That deep forward group is now not quite as deep as it was, with the departure of Justin Williams (CAR) and Marcus Johansson (NJD) who combined for 48 goals a season ago. Ovi will be counted on again to provide much of the offensive production this season, and will most likely see his ice time and shooting percentage increase. The Caps’ captain also trained differently in the offseason and arrived at camp lighter and faster than years past.
- 2017-’18 stat line prediction: 45-35-80 pts.