Sometimes, the signs are just obvious that it's time for an NHL player's glow-up.
In 2020-21, his second NHL season, Hughes worked hard to add size, shoot the puck more often and even changed the curvature of his stick. His sophomore success suggested that 2021-22 would be his breakout. "I think for players like Jack, it's like dog years. That's how much he learned: How good defensemen are, how they take space away," Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald said at the time.
Last season, he proved those predictions accurate: 56 points in 49 games, in a season cut short by injury. A star was born, literally: Hughes played in the 2022 NHL All-Star Game, the first of his career.
Every NHL season, there are players bubbling under the surface ready to pop. Rookies who level up in their second seasons. Supporting cast members given a larger spotlight. Solid contributors who, through offseason additions or subtractions, find themselves with a promising new role.
Here are 25 players who are primed for breakout campaigns in the 2022-23 NHL season, placed into handy tiers.