Where Did These Guys Come From? Former Prospects Making NHL Impact


It seems this season that breakout players are taking over the NHL. These players had to have come from somewhere, so we want to examine how they became NHL studs over night.

Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

Starting out in the KHL in Russia, Kucherov was a second round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011, when he was 18 years old. He went on to play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League after he was drafted, where he scored 63 points in 33 games to lead the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (he played just six games with the Quebec Ramparts). He made his AHL debut the next season with the Syracuse Crunch, where he scored 24 points in 17 games before getting a shot with the Lightning. In his debut season, Kucherov scored 18 points in 52 games.

2014-2015 has been the breakout season for the Lightning prospect, with 43 points in 52 games thus far and a +27 rating. Kucherov joins a Lightning squad that leads the NHL in scoring along with fellow breakout players Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson.

Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators

Nashville has seen good fortune all season, tied for the lead in the western conference. Forsberg, their prize rookie, has been one of their keys to their success. Originally a first round pick of the Washington Capitals, the Swedish star was traded to Nashville in early 2013 as a part of the Martin Erat trade.

In four seasons with a Swedish pro team, he scored 90 points. In 2012, Forsberg played in five games for the Predators, where he had one assist and a -1 rating. He played 47 games last season with the Milwaukee Admirals where he scored 34 points with the AHL club.

Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames

“Johnny Hockey” has never seen Canadian junior hockey nor the AHL; he was drafted in 2011 but signed with the Flames after his NCAA career with the Boston College Eagles. He scored 80 points in his last NCAA season over 40 games.

Gaudreau did see some junior hockey with the United States Hockey League, where he had 72 points in 60 games. Now in his first full NHL season, Gaudreau has 37 points through 49 games.

Ryan Strome, New York Islanders

The Islanders have been a surprise team this season, and Ryan Strome has been a part of it. The former 5th overall pick played four seasons of junior hockey with the Barrie Colts and Niagara Ice Dogs. In the 2010-2011 season, Strome put up 106 points for Niagara.

After being drafted, Strome played in the AHL with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. In 37 games he put up 49 points before being recalled to New York, where he had 18 in 37 games. This season Strome has been an offensive leader with 34 points thus far.

Mike Hoffman, Ottawa Senators

Hoffman has been up and down between the NHL and other leagues for many seasons. He has broke out with 25 points this season, 17 of them goals to lead the Senators.

Over this hockey career, Hoffman has played with the Binghampton Senators often over the years67 points as his caree rhigh in 2013-2014. He has even played in the ECHL with the Elmira Jackals.

Jori Lehtera, St Louis Blues

The Blues are full of offensive talent, including a breakout season from Vladimir Tarasenko. However, rookie Jori Lehtera has been a pleasant surprise. The 27 year old rookie was drafted in 2008 but did not chose to play in the NHL until signing in July.

He has played in the KHL since 2010. Before that he played for seven games where he put up one assists with the Peoria Rivermen in the AHL.