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Neutral Zone Wrap: Players to Target Next Season

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Statistical analysis may be able to predict certain trends, but there's no way it can allow for freak injuries or other rare occurrences. But still, the data is available to at least estimate how players will perform months down the road.

Some skaters have struggled this season -- either physically, positionally, or both -- but have the chance to improve. Whether these players have established themselves at some point in the past or possess the pedigree to perform at a higher level, they should be able to help you in time for next season.

Give us your hurt, your unappreciated, your forgotten masses yearning to show what they can do. Use the following examples only as directed, but don't expect any immediate results:

(NOTE: We can't include anyone featured the last few weeks, but keep them in mind. Also, no netminders. But you already knew that.)

Boone Jenner, F, Columbus

Jenner may have missed 40 games due to a broken back but has seamlessly returned to the lineup since being activated last week (two points Saturday, plus-4 in four). After a moderately successful rookie campaign (29 points in 72 games), the former Oshawa General star was expected to claim a bigger role until injury struck. While he won't always get service from Ryan Johansen, there's opportunity for Jenner to display his physicality and decent offensive game no matter his linemates.

John Moore, D, Arizona

The Rangers had high hopes for Moore when they brought him over in 2013, but he ended up being caught behind a glut of blueliners and various inconsistencies (six in 13 right away, 21 in 111 after). The downside is that he comes to a Coyotes squad in the middle of a major rebuild. The upshot is that with Keith Yandle having gone the other way, there's a vacancy alongside superstud Oliver Ekman-Larsson. And that's where Moore finds himself with a chance to stay there if he can maintain his solid initial play (four in 13, skating on the top power-play).

Ryan Murphy, D, Carolina

Murphy understandably gets confused with Columbus defenseman Ryan Murray, even though the two were drafted a year apart. Although like his close namesake, injuries the first two seasons have hindered development. Most recently, Murphy hurt his leg and was forced to miss a month. But around that setback, his 2014-15 has been more than adequate (12 in 31 in the bigs, 17 in 25 -- all assists -- down on the farm). Everyone knows Justin Faulk serves as the Canes' alpha, so there's no reason Murphy can't challenge for No. 1 or at least a more substantial attacking workload.

Teemu Pulkkinen, F, Detroit

If you're looking for next year's Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar, then your search should start and end with Pulkkinen. When he was called up in early March, the Finn had been leading the AHL in scoring (61 in 46, unbelievably still tops the league in goals with 34). The 5-foot-10 winger may not be striking at a similar rate in Detroit (seven in 24), but he's already earning a reputation for his quick release and a willingness to shoot from anywhere (as evidenced from his early 19.90/14.45 Corsi/Fenwick averages).

Teuvo Teravainen, F, Chicago

The Blackhawks drew rave reviews when they took Teravainen with the 18th pick in 2012, but the franchise has been questioned as to how they've handled him since. There's no question the kid is gifted offensively (25 in 39 with the AHL affiliate) but promoting someone and then sitting him on the bench perhaps isn't the best way to earn NHL experience. Even though it may seem he's not fitting in, Teravainen is slowly adding on the minutes (averaging 14 skating on the third line). And he's still only 20, so no need to panic.

(Honorable mention: Mikhail Grigorenko, F, Buffalo; Bo Horvat, F, Vancouver; Dmitrij Jaskin, F, St. Louis; Oscar Klefbom, D, Edmonton; Derrick Pouliot, D, Pittsburgh)

We will conclude the regular season by highlighting players to avoid for 2015-16. See, we really do care.