Three seasons ago, Tage Thompson was not yet Tage Thompson.
He was a 23-year-old forward with the Buffalo Sabres, hitting a career high of eight goals and best known for being one of several players in the 2018 Ryan O'Reilly trade with St. Louis. But then he scored 38 goals in 2021-22. That was his breakout. He followed that up with 47 goals, the sixth-highest total in the NHL during the 2022-23 season. After that, he was a star.
That's how quickly momentum can build for an NHL player. Sometimes it's a young player getting a bigger role. Other times it's an established player getting a change in scenery or linemates. Suddenly, someone bubbling under the surface becomes an All-Star, or a vital part of a contending team.
Here are 25 players that are primed for breakout campaigns in the 2023-24 NHL season, placed into five handy tiers: