Sophomore Slump Threat Index: How will Matthews, Laine perform?

Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine had incredible rookie campaigns in 2016-17 -- and they had lots of company. Which rising second-year players are most in danger of the dreaded sophomore slump? Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

In the future, we might look back at the 2016-17 class of rookies as one of the best the NHL has ever seen.

Only a year removed from Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel owning the spotlight, the 2016 No. 1 and No. 2 picks put on a show in their debuts. And they were hardly the only ones. Fans around the league saw the emergence of exciting rookie scorers, top-pairing defensemen and even a franchise goalie.

But every season, some of the top rookies from the previous campaign hit a wall. Whether it's because opponents adapt or because coaches put more on the shoulders of their young players or simply a regression to the mean, the sophomore slump can be "a thing" in the NHL.

In 2015-16, for example, Arizona winger Anthony Duclair looked like a rising star, putting up 44 points in his rookie campaign. He followed that strong start with just five goals and 10 assists in 58 games in 2016-17 and saw his shooting percentage drop from 19.0 percent to 6.6.

On the other hand, we also saw McDavid rocket from a strong start as a rookie to winning the Hart Trophy as league MVP.

How will the historically good 2016-17 class fair in their sophomore seasons? We're breaking out the Sophomore Slump Threat Index:

  • Green: Not a candidate for a sophomore slump

  • Yellow: Sophomore slump a possibility

  • Red: Good chance of sophomore slump

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Auston Matthews, F, Toronto Maple Leafs
Key 2016-17 stats: 82 games, 40 goals, 29 assists, league-leading 32 even-strength goals, 14.3 percent shooting percentage
Threat level: