2008-2009 brought us the breakout performance of Joel Ward. He put up 17 goals and 18assists for a total of 35 points, which was far more than anyone expected from him. 2009-2010 brought us the unbelievable season of Patric Hornqvist. Horndog put up 30 goals and 21 assists for a total of 51 points, which was tied for the team-lead in points with Steve Sullivan. Last year, Ward had 34 points, which was virtually the same as his previous year minus one point. And based off his intensity in the pre-season, it doesn't look like Patric Hornqvist's numbers are going to be taking a dip. On the contrary, it looks like his numbers may rise if he stays healthy.
So who is it going to be this year? Who will be the breakout player for the Predators in the 2010-2011 season? Will it be someone like Jordin Tootoo who finally puts up the offensive numbers that were expected from him when he was drafted(He was drafted for scoring, not being an enforcer)? Or will it be a goaltender? Will Anders Lindback step up and make a huge difference in relief of Pekka? My personal pick: Marcel Goc. Depending on where Goc is placed on a line, I think he can have a very successful year. You've got to figure that Colin Wilson is going to play on a wing because of his versatility. So where does Goc go? Lombardi is almost certainly going to be our top line center. Jerred Smithson is almost certainly going to be the 4th line center. So what happens with Legwand and Goc? Do you put Legwand as the 2nd line center? Leggy has had a pretty decent pre-season. Goc also has a lot of qualities that would be great for a second line center like: Face-off winning percentage, Playmaking ability when in open ice, and he's shown constant improvement.
Another thing to think about here is Cal O'Reilly. The general consensus is that O'Reilly is probably not going to make it here simply because there may not be any room for him. Heck, Colin Wilson is playing on the wing because there's no room for him right now at center. And, if O'Reilly does happen to make the team, you can't put him at the 3rd or 4th line. He's simply not a 3rd or 4th line player, so that means he'd have to be the 2nd line center and I'm not sure if he's ready for that yet or not.
I think the competition is between Legwand and Goc. You've got to figure the lines are going to go something like this:
LW: Steve Sullivan C: Matthew Lombardi RW: Patric Hornqvist
LW: Colin Wilson C: Legwand/Goc RW: Martin Erat
LW: Sergei Kostitsyn C: Legwand/Goc RW: JP Dumont
LW: Joel Ward C: Smithson/Spaling RW: Jordin Tootoo
These lines are, of course, flexible to change simply because the Preds have so much depth this year. That's why this could be a great year. Who is your breakout player this year?