Other than Gabriel Landeskog, who on the Avs do you think will have a breakout year this year?
I deliberately did not provide any criteria for this question as I wanted to let each writer to come up with their own. The end result is that we got a wide variety of answers. Er, with one exception.
Clearly, I'm a genius because Galiardi was the overwhelming favorite response.
Angélique Murray, Colorado Avalanche Prospects, Mile High Hockey & Chicks Who Give A Puck: I'm looking at TJ Galiardi as the player I expect to breakout this upcoming season. No, he's not going to put up 90 points, but I expect we'll see more of the player we saw against the San Jose Sharks in the 2010 Western Conference Quarterfinals. So, I'm predicting a 20 goal/30 assist season for Mr. Galiardi.
Mike @ MHH, Mile High Hockey: The hipster pick is T.J. Galiardi, right? That's a thing now, right?
Geoff Rosenthal, The Avs Factor: T.J. Galiardi. If all goes according to plan, he will finally be playing on the third line, a role that he is exceptionally suited for. He will play alongside Ryan O'Reilly (another breakout candidate) and hopefully channel the energy he had in the 2010 playoffs when he became a monster against the San Jose Sharks. Don't let me down, Gali.
Derek and Ryan were on the same wavelength, choosing Galardicus and Peter Mueller.
Derek Bell, Mile High Hockey: There are a couple of players that I'm looking for to have a big year. Peter Mueller and TJ Galiardi. Can Mueller shake the concussion symptoms which kept him out all of last season and recapture some of the brilliance he showed during the Avs short playoff run 2 seasons ago? Or will he fall by the way side due to injuries? Can Galiardicus solidify himself as a top 6 forward in the NHL and earn himself a long term contract after this season? I believe he can, and will, be in the top 3 in scoring this year for the Avs behind Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene.
Ryan Boulding, The Avalanche Guild: I think Peter Mueller will stay healthy this season and that he'll easily top his 54 points from his rookie year. A lot of this depends on who he plays with and if he can mentally overcome the fear of missing another entire season due to injury. TJ Galiardi has something to prove after being demoted to the AHL and having two broken bone injuries last season as well. Look for him to come out heavy as well.
Cheryl also mentioned Galiardi, along with Cameron Awesome and Radar O'Reilly.
Cheryl Bradley, Mile High Hockey & Avalanche Breakaway: I anticipate three players having true breakout years: TJ Galiardi, Cameron Gaunce and Ryan O'Reilly. I picked Gaunce because he has great vision and is so smart with the puck. Between watching him in games at the Pepsi Center and at practices, it's clear the young defenseman has the "it" factor. His development from training camp to his final NHL game last season was impressive and showed his ability to adapt and improve his game. He also paid his own way to make it to what's becoming a highly sought after and in-demand week-long off-season clinic in Canada: the BioSteel camp. In late August, he joined the likes of Steven Stamkos, Jeff Skinner and Steve Mason in the brutal week of on-ice scrimmages and drills, as well as off-ice workouts. This shows that he is serious about his career and dedicated to improving his skills.
O'Reilly and Galiardi will feed off each other to create a dual breakout. Paired on the third line together, they are going to hit that groove they once had back in 2009-2010. Their penalty kills were incredibly impressive, and they seemed to develop a mental link that allowed them to know exactly where the other one would be in order to create an effective forecheck. That chemistry will translate to their forward line in such a way that they create space for one another and anticipate the pass for better scoring opportunities. There won't be a clear "goal scorer" and "set up man" for them; each will feed the other when his linemate has the better shot and take one when he knows it's his to have. Moreover, both players are strong defensively, and when you add Chuck Kobasew to the right wing, this line will become a formidable one with added versatility.
Her buddy AJ went with ORLY as well.
AJ Haefele, Mile High Hockey: I struggled with this one quite a bit. I think this year we finally see what Ryan O'Reilly is going to give us on both ends of the ice. His play on defense is well-documented and respected around the league. He's an extremely intelligent player who does the little things better than most guys in the league, an especially impressive feat given his age. However, this year I think he shows up more on the scoreboard and makes a leap from sub-30 points to the 40-50 range. Anything less than 30 would be seen as a significant letdown in my eyes.
One name I expected to see more here was Stefan Elliott. I'm thinking the Avs crowded blueline is probably what held more people back from making this pick.
Adrian Dater, Denver Post: Stefan Elliott, for sure. I see this guy getting 40 points this year.
Call me crazy - and he may not get enough ice time to get that much, but I really think he's got the talent to get that many points. Might he also be a minus-40 out there? Maybe, but I think he definitely has the goods for a good rookie year.
Pavol from Austria, Eurolanche: Well, we have a lot of prospects, but the best one for next season is probably only Stefan Elliott.
David from Slovakia, Eurolanche: It would be a dream if Landeskog would play like a God and the Erik Johnson and Semyon Varlamov would join him - offense, defense and the goalie. I would pray for Varlamov, because his position was our "black hole" after Roy´s retirement. Did we find the right goalie finally? But back to the question - Stefan Elliott is my hottest candidate for not only breakout season but also Calder Trophy nominee.
But, there actually were a bunch of other defensemen not named Elliott mentioned
Jaye Horbay, Mile High Sticking: I'm hoping for Jonas Holos to break through in a big way. Yes, he was thrown straight into the fire last season, but with the exception of a few gaffes, (I got to witness the OT faceoff fuck up in Vancouver in person) I think he had a pretty solid season. Pair him with a competent defenseman in Hejda or O'Brien and I think he'll quietly put together a good season. It won't be flashy on the score sheet, but the small things that win games.
Sandie Gauthier, Mile High Hockey: I think, barring injuries, it's going to be Kyle Quincey's year. His season-ending injury last year was an abnormal one, and one that is unlikely to be a re-occurring problem as long as it has properly healed. Two years ago he was a good, solid, young defenseman. Last year he struggled early in the season, then he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury when he was starting to figure it out.
Austin Snow, Avs Chill Zone: Kyle Quincey. Gotta stay healthy, but I say he puts up 50 points - more than EJ.
Matt Muzia, SBN Denver: Erik Johnson. He has the size and talent, and he finally has an organization that firmly believes in his future. With Hejda staying home, Johnson will be given free range to play a more open style. Potential All-Star this season and our future captain.
Aaron Musick, HockeyBuzz: Two players breakout this year: Matt Duchene and Erik Johnson. Mueller is another one to watch for but just playing a full season would be a good start. Duchene and Johnson will breakout in a big way due to maturity and great offseason training programs. Johnson in particular with a stronger lower body, should be faster and more explosive.
Another guy with a couple of mentions was Joakim Lindstrom
Stephen Crociata, Mile High Sticking and SBNation New York: I believe Joakim Lindstrom has a lot of promise if he makes the Avalanche out of training camp. If he is on one of the top two lines I can see him puttingg up similar numbers to what he put up in the SEL (28 and 32). I also believe Chuck Kobasew has a great opportunity to revert to his old ways.
Brett Shumway, Mile High Hockey: I want to say Galiardi and Lindstrom will have break out seasons, but playing in the bottom 6 will limit them both. Lindstrom may be a sleeper power play specialist. I could see solid PP numbers from him, potentially more than at even strength.
Mike Verminski, Put It On Ice: Yip only because he's my man crush.
Mike Chambers, Denver Post: Brad Malone might make the team as a Cody McLeod-type and hopefully Peter Mueller proves that he can play a full year again. David Jones and TJ Galiardi might have big years.
Finally, Andi went with D) All of the above
Andi D, Mile High Hockey: I think 2011-12 will be a breakout season for not only a number of our players, but for our entire team. Almost everyone is in the final year of their contract, and they have something to prove this year after such a dismal finish last season. I made a list of everyone that I thought could have a breakout season, and it had 11 names on it. However, I think the four that would have the most impact on the team are our core players. I think Duchene will finally break 80 points and begin to establish himself as one of the elite centers in the league. EJ will also have a big season - with Hejda as his partner, he'll be able to jump into the play more and prove that he's a strong 2-way defenseman that was rightfully taken 1st overall. I expect him to lead the blueline in scoring next year. And I'll bet that more is going to be asked of O'Reilly offensively and that he, in true O'Reilly form, will live up to those expectations. He could become one of the very best two way centers in the league, and I think next year is when he'll start to prove it. And Varly, if his health cooperates, could also establish himself as one of the best in the game. He certainly has the talent to be - with Giggy (and hopefully a full time goalie coach) there to guide him, I think he could have a really great year. If all 4 of them live up to their potential and a few other teammates join in, I think the Avs are a playoff team.
I loved the wide diversity of the answers here as well as the wide assortment of potential breakout players (or tear- inducing disappointments). We're going to have even more fun tomorrow, when we gave into our crystal balls and sort out the logjam on the blueline.