If you haven’t had a chance to check out the new Frozen Tool changes over at Dobber – I suggest you do so -> (Frozen Pool: Sidney Crosby). Excellent stuff – really quick info on some advanced stats. You will be at a disadvantage next year if you’re not utilizing this information when making trade decisions.
This week I’m going to jump over to the center position in the Metro division and check out who excelled at scoring goals this year compared to their three year career average. Typically I’m not jumping into the center position until much later in the draft since there are so many good centers available in the later rounds. I prefer to have a center that is heavy in assists and shoots the puck a lot – for this reason I’m going to be doing some digging on primary assists for pivots that will follow the goal analysis in the coming weeks.
I ran the data for expected goals for centers minus their actual goal totals for the year, so a positive number would indicate that they left some goals out of the net and that we can reasonably expect them to improve on their goal total next year (Data source: Corsica Hockey). Additionally I subtracted their previous two season average shooting percentage from this year’s shooting percentage. A positive number in this area indicates that their shooting percentage should increase next year as well. This makes players in the upper right more likely to positively regress next year in the goal scoring department.
Here is the information plotted with the size of the players coordinate point being the amount of goals they scored last year.
Nico Hischier had a nice season this year for his entry level campaign. Check out the stats from Dobber’s Frozen Tool:
I’d expect to see his shooting percentage as a whole to increase given his skill level. He had a reasonable Individual Points Percentage as well. The lack of career sample years makes it difficult to plot in the graph above but from a goal scoring metric, but it does appear he left some goals on the table. Given his pedigree reaching the high 20s in goals while being flanked by Taylor Hall next year is more than a reasonable expectation.
Jordan Staal had a fairly typical goal total this year, 19 goals in 79 games. He also maintained a fairly consistent shooting percentage at 11.9% compared to a career average of 11.6%. I point out Staal because for those who count FOW he’s typically worth a roster spot. I’d expect Staal to continue at his current place next year and would bet good money that he does not flirt with his career best 25 goals for the remainder of his career.
John Tavares went on an absolute tear in the beginning of the season which helped inflate his goal scoring totals on the year -14 goals in the first quarter compared to 8 in all other quarters. He shot 14.1% compared to a career average of 12.7% this year. I’d expect that his shooting percentage is due for a decline next year regardless of where he plays. His points/60 this year was one of the highest numbers he’s been able to produce over his career, so again I’d expect his numbers to come down a bit. However he did not start as many shifts in the offensive zone this year most likely since Mathew Barzal was being sheltered from D-zone starts. We will have to wait and see where JT ends up next year.
Mika Zibanejad produced an excellent season while missing 10 games. He scored a career high of 27 goals doing so with a reasonable shooting percentage of 12.7% compared to a career average of 12%. It does appear that he scored more than was expected of him from the advanced stats, but that isn’t out of line with the narrative of other premier players. Premier players? Maybe Z isn’t in that echelon of players but I really like his chances to at the very least hit high 20s in goals again next year given the amount of ice time he’ll be seeing. Additionally his 5v5 shooting percentage this year was 6.7% compared to a career average somewhere in the mid 8%- there is room to grow in this area.
Sean Couturier exceeded everyone’s expectations on his way to scoring 31 goals this season….31 goals!
This was aided by the Claude Giroux Resurgence® and helped by his almost 3 minutes more of additional ice time per game this season. Also remember when he scored 5 points in an elimination game against the Pens on a bad knee? He certainly had a high 5v5 shooting percentage of 11% compared to a career average mid 8% and this could reasonable pull him into the mid-20s next year. His shot volume increased significantly this year from 150s to breaking through the 200 shot floor. I have absolutely no idea what to do with Couturier next year – I’m guessing someone will have more faith in him at a much earlier stage in the draft and that is fine by me. I don’t like paying for career years at the draft table – be careful what you wish for if you target him.
Sidney Crosby was snake-bitten for the majority of the season – yes, he scored 29 goals, but we all know he’s capable of much more than that. His expected goal totals on the graph above place him into the mid-30s in goals, which I would imagine he gets back to next year. He was almost 3% points off his career average shooting percentage, with his shot volume that could easily be another 7 goals. It’ll be interesting who the top picks are next year – someone is going to find a nice pot of gold with pick 2 – 4 next year if Kucherov and Matthews sneak in front of Sid in some drafts next year.
Pierre-Luc Dubois was the number one pivot that CBJ has been looking for since Ryan Johansen left. He was able to pot 20 goals this year with a 6.9% shooting percentage in 5v5 situations, with his skill level he can add a couple more goals in this situation. I’d be wary of the sophomore slump, but he certainly has the pedigree to keep marching forward. As long as he’s able to maintain his spot there is a bright future for Dubois in Columbus next year. This feels like an excellent late round pick to round out the center position while you mine for gold at earlier positions.
Evgeny Kuznetsov took off this year scoring 27 goals in route to 83 total points. He had his highest career shooting percentage of 14.4% compared to 12.1%. The thing is that his 5v5 shooting percentage (10.4%) wasn’t too far off his career 10%. What changed? His PP usage – he gained almost a full minute more of power play time this year. For this reason I’d expect he can maintain a higher shooting percentage compared to his career. He was a bit lucky in terms of expected goals scored this year but the usage data appears to show a player on the rise who can maintain these numbers. He’s probably never going to shoot the puck into the mid-200s as long as he is playing with Alexander Ovechkin, so it seems unlikely that he is going to suddenly reach 40 goals next year. I’d keep him in the 25-35 goal range with an expectation that 25 goals just became the floor with his usage.
Questions or comments? You can follow me on Twitter @DH_jcameronmetz.