July 23, 2015

Michael Clifford


Looking at how goal scoring has changed in the NHL recently, and what that means for fantasy.


I was going to talk about the need for a youth movement in the NHL, on the heels of an excellent article from Travis Yost of TSN. I was beaten to the punch in yesterday's Ramblings by Steve Laidlaw, though that's far from a bad thing. Steve does a very good job looking at some younger players that may be primed to take a leap in production, and I encourage the readers to click that link and read through if they have not yet.

If we’re looking at players even younger than that, I encourage the readers to check out the latest Prospect Ramblings from Zach Hopkins. He covers a lot of guys that dynasty fantasy hockey owners may want to start brushing up on. 


As always on Thursdays, I will have an open thread set up around lunchtime (EDT) in the Dobber Forums for readers to come in and ask any fantasy (or even non-fantasy) hockey question that comes to mind. It's a good way to get answers that might require a bit more nuance than just 140 characters on Twitter, or a comment at the bottom of an article.


For the bulk of this Ramblings then, I'm going to go through something that almost seems like an afterthought in fantasy, and that's goal scoring.

Ok maybe it's not exactly an afterthought, but there's always a lot of chatter about peripherals like hits and face-offs and penalty minutes and on and on it goes. That's a fair thing to do, after all, seeing as being at the top of your roto league in penalty minutes provides as many points as being at the top of the goals column. There's more to it – goals beget power play points, shots, and plus/minus – but I see why it's the case.

There is a need to look at what's going on in goal scoring, though, because there is a shift going on in the NHL.

For four years now, goals per game per team has been relatively unchanged. Since the start of the 2011-2012 season, all four campaigns have been somewhere between 2.72 and 2.74 goals per game per team. The 2014-2015 season saw as many goals (2.73) as the 2011-2012 season (2.73). Goal scoring isn't going down, but the distribution of goal scoring is still changing.

Here is what's going on (it's something I've glossed over before, but bear with me):

  • – In 2011-2012, 30 players cracked the 30 goal mark, and four players cracked 40.
  • – In 2013-2014, 21 players cracked the 30 goal mark, and three players cracked 40.
  • – In 2014-2015, 15 players cracked the 30 goal mark, and three players cracked 40.

The number of 30 goal scorers has been cut in half in just three years, despite there being just as many goals per game per team in 2011-2012 as there was last year. There are several reasons for this, but here's a big one:

  • – In 2011-2012, 19 defencemen cracked the 10 goal mark, and four scored 15 or more.
  • – In 2013-2014, 28 defencemen cracked the 10 goal mark, and six scored 15 or more.
  • – In 2014-2015, 32 defencemen cracked the 10 goal mark, and 10 scored 15 or more.

The number of defencemen with at least 10 goals has increased nearly 40-percent while the number of d-men who scored 15 increased by a factor of 2.5. That's an enormous shift in the allocation of goals and has a lot of fantasy hockey implications.