Most likely to Succeed is our newest series which points out one player from every team and explains why that player is poised to increase their point totals. While some teams may have more than one player likely to breakout and some none, we will focus on the ones who actually should improve with a full healthy season. File this article under a sleeper-type but sleepers would not be called that if people saw them coming.
Bryan Little disappointed most pundits with his paltry 13 goals and 21 assists last season after coming off a 31 goal season. His first round pedigree, promising ice time and knack for scoring put him on our short sheet for a potential steal. Knowing he would play a full season on a weak Thrashers team may have put him lower on most depth charts and savvy general managers took the risk.
Well, it turned out to be just that: a risk.
Considering Little really only played in 48 games prior to his 31 goal season, the 23-year-old forward may have experienced a bit of a sophomore slump. Young players can become prone to inconsistency and simply need a boost in confidence to play at that higher level once again. At stretches he showed ability to regain that form, namely when Ilya Kovalchuk left for greener pastures (or redder depending on your perspective), but ultimately fell into what we call a lost year.
Little definitely holds the skills to succeed in the NHL. Has the league figured him out? Possibly, but one year seems a bit hasty to judge a young player. Keep your eye on him come draft day, he seems like an excellent gamble for a league with more than six forward positions. Very few players on this Atlanta Thrashers team can say they have put up 30 goals or have the potential to do so.