It’s been a particularly tumultuous offseason for hockey fans. The NHL added its 32nd franchise, the Seattle Kraken, and numerous teams maneuvered to fit under the stagnant salary cap. A new city means new opportunities, and these 3 NHL players are primed for a breakout year in the 2021-2022 season.
The Kraken poached Vince Dunn from the St. Louis Blues during the NHL Expansion Draft. The 24-year-old defenseman looks like a lock to earn a top-4 spot on the Kraken’s defense corps, something that remained elusive during his time with the Blues.
Seattle’s General Manager Ron Francis coveted Dunn for his puck-moving abilities, and he should have room to roam next to prospective partner Jamie Oleksiak. It’s all but certain he’ll be able to improve on his career-high of 35 points, as he looks to be the most offensively capable defenseman on the Kraken’s roster. He’ll reap the benefits of power-play time, another thing St. Louis couldn’t afford him.
Buchnevich, originally drafted by the New York Rangers, headed to St. Louis in an offseason trade. The winger tallied 48 points in 54 games last season and figures to play on the Blues’ top forward line with Selke-winner Ryan O’Reilly.
Buchnevich is an industrious player who’s just now rounding into his own after 5 seasons in the NHL. He’s developed his game as a power forward and fits perfectly within the Blues’ identity as a gritty, hard-nosed hockey club. As the Blues look to part ways with all-star winger Vladimir Tarasenko, Buchnevich will be given ample opportunity to shine.
The Detroit Red Wings acquired Jakub Vrana from the Washington Capitals at least season’s trade deadline. After joining the Wings, Vrana scored at a torrid pace with 6 goals and 5 assists in 11 games. He single-handedly injected life into Detroit’s anemic offense and brought fans out of their seats with numerous highlight-reel plays.
Vrana, long-buried on the Capital’s depth chart, is guaranteed a spot on Detroit’s top line next season. Detroit has limited options on offense, so Vrana will every opportunity to pick up where he left off.