Commentary

Next wave of 30-goal scorers

Frolik, Tavares and Duchene among those primed for a scoring breakthrough

Originally Published: August 26, 2011
By Neil Greenberg | Special to ESPN Insider
Michael FrolikJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesChicago's Michael Frolik could surpass the 30-goal mark next season.

There is no standard definition of what a breakout season is, but here's one that works: when potential and raw talent come together for the first time at the pro level to create a full season of achievement that a player wasn't expected to have and/or hadn't previously accomplished.

There is also no exact science to predicting NHL success; there always will be a few players who break out in a way that nobody expected and others who do not live up to the hype. Players like Nikolai Kulemin, who went from 15 goals as a rookie to 16 as a sophomore before nearly doubling that total to 30 goals in 82 games, seem to burst on to the scene out of nowhere.

Or did he?

By examining the season before the first 30-goal season of past high scorers, we can narrow down the field and come up with the next wave of players on the brink of making their mark among the NHL's scoring elite. We've done just that and found some interesting names in the process.

Neil Greenberg is ESPN Insider's NHL analytics expert. His columns have appeared on the Washington Post website, and he is a regular guest on Sirius XM NHL Radio.