Player Preview: Bryan Little

Trin Potratz
August 22 2014 10:57AM

For the past few seasons, Bryan Little has been one of the bright spots in the Jets organization. The former 12th overall pick blossomed into a contributing centre a little bit more every season since becoming a pro at the ripe age of 19.

Little may not be one of the NHL's elite, but after posting a career high of 64 points last season at 26 years young, the Edmonton native may be ready to become a top pivot for years to come.

PERFORMANCE

Little extra skater

Despite being small in stature by NHL standards, Little has developed his overall game to a point where he can comfortably play in the NHL's most difficult position as a number one centre. 

2014-15 will be Little's 8th season and he is entering his prime. Little has seen his career trajectory go up with every season, with the exception of a 34-point performance in 2009-10. The year previous to his fallout was a shocking and surprising 31-goal sophomore season, moving the inevitable jinx back one year.

Ever since his first fallout, Little has stayed consistently in the late 40 to early 50's point totals and was a capable 2nd line centre. Little eventually found chemistry on the Jets top line last year, and turned the extra time into a 64-point season.

There's no reason to believe Little can't eclipse those totals if he keeps improving, but it's a safe bet that he will stay in the 60's. There's nothing wrong with centres who can score 60 points, and Little should be able to hold on to the first line centre job until Mark Scheifele is ready to take it over in a few seasons.

EXPECTATIONS

It was once thought that Little would always be between 45-55 points, and that kind of production is a solid for a second line centre in today's in NHL. It seemed as if Little was a good fit in that role, but last season has escalated people's expectations.

Once again, Little will be the club's top line pivot and will play over 20 minutes a night so he'll have plenty opportunities to add to his personal point totals. 

Like I mentioned earlier, it's not out of the question for Little to score 70 this year, but the realistic number should be in the 60's. I think he'll be on par with last season's totals.

THN has Little at 61 points, scoring 21-40, and I happen to be very close to that in my projection. If you're looking for a nice steal in your fantasy draft, take a flyer on Little. He's been healthy his entire career playing a minimum of 74 games, and he scores at a decent enough rate that he should be worthy of a dark horse pick. 

I'm going to say Little plays 78 games and score 23-42-65 to set a new career high by one.

MAJOR QUESTIONS

1.     Is Little a bonafide top-line centre?

On this team yes, but he’d be a perfect fit on many other NHL teams’ second line. In the current NHL, point production is declining, and 80 points a year is considered elite. With that being said, having a centre that scored 64 points solidifies his label as a top-line centre.

2.     Will Little continue to stay healthy?

I mentioned earlier that Little has stayed healthy throughout his entire career, a feat that is extraordinarily difficult to accomplished. The fact of the matter is that with more production comes more attention and that can lead to injuries. It’s possible though that Little is one of the rare iron men in the NHL.

3.     Who will be Little’s wingers?

As much as I’d love to check out Little’s “Extra Skater” page for best linemates, I can’t because the stupid Toronto Maple Leafshad to create an entire analytics team. Little has played with Ladd and Wheeler more often, but Wheeler spent time playing opposite wing with Dustin Byfuglien and Michael Frolik took his place on Little’s wing. They are a few different options and that will contribute to Little’s success.

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Potratz is SAIT Journalism graduate and has worked as a reporter for the Grande Prairie Daily-Herald Tribune and Strathmore Standard. After keeping his own personal blog at www.potratzhockey.com he aspired to join the Nation Network. Follow him on Twitter @PotratzHockey
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#1 garret9
August 22 2014, 11:10AM
Trash it!
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Use stats.hockeyanalysis.com for linemates

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