Top 10 Players With an Inflated Shot Percentage

Tom Collins

2020-04-13

When you sit down later this summer and try to figure out which players are in line to regress, the first statistic you should look at is shooting percentage.

It's not the only stat to consider, but it's a good starting point. Any player who saw an increase of at least five percentage points this year deserves a closer look as to whether they can repeat that next year.

After all, a player taking 200 shots with a shooting percentage of 10 per cent will score 20 goals. If that same player has a shooting percentage of 15 per cent on 200 shots, that's 30 goals. That's a significant uptick.

Look at last year's list as an example: Players such as Joe Pavelski, Max Domi, Matt Duchene, Tomas Hertl and Viktor Arvidsson all had inflated shooting percentages in 2018-19, and all came crashing down in a big way this year. Of course, for some, there are other reasons for a decrease in production, but as I said, shooting percentage a good starting point.

We're not looking at rookies for this list as there's no baseline as to what constitutes a high shooting percentage for them. Also keep in mind the list is about players who shot significantly higher than what they usually do, so players with high shooting percentages (such as TJ Oshie) won't be found on this list.

10. Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Immediately after trading for him at the deadline, the Islanders gave Pageau a five-year, $25-million deal. However, there should be some concerns about whether he can keep up his 32-goal pace. To start, his 2.25 shots per game were the highest of his career, and only the third time he's averaged more than 2 shots per game. As well, his 17.2 shooting percentage is significantly higher than his 9.3 per cent he averaged coming into this year. It was also the first time in four years that he had a double-digit shooting percentage. Last season, he was at 4.8 per cent. I wouldn't expect him to get that low again, but if he goes back to under two shots per game and a shooting percentage below 10 per cent, he won't reach 15 goals next year.  

9. Andre Burakovsky

Burakovsky's season must have been a shock to most fantasy general managers. His best season in Washington was 17 goals and 38 points. This year in Colorado, he scored 20 goals and 45 points in 58 games (a 28-goal, 64-point pace). It helped that he saw career highs in power-play time and overall ice time. It also helps that he saw a career high in shots per game, which bodes well when combined with his 19.4 shooting percentage. Compare that to Washington, where he averaged 12.8 per cent per season.

8. Zach Hyman

Hyman seems destined to be a player (similar to Pascal Dupuis) that compliments elite linemates, and that will help lead him to greater success. This year was insane, even by his standards. Going into this year, he averaged a 10.3 shooting percentage, and was at 14.6 per cent in 2018-19. This year, he missed the first month-and-a-half of the season, getting back just in time for Mike Babcock's firing. This year, Hyman had a 19.8 shooting percentage, and tied a career high with 21 goals in 51 games (a 34-goal pace).

7. William Nylander

In 2018-19, Nylander had a deflated shooting percentage, which should have been a clear sign it wouldn't take much for a bounce-back season. Last year, he shot 5.4 per cent, down from an average 11.1 per cent in the three campaigns before that. This year, he jumped back up with a 15.7 shooting percentage. It makes sense though, as he was playing with Auston Matthews or John Tavares most of the season, saw an increase in ice time by almost three minutes per game and was moved to the top power-play unit.

6. Travis Konecny

Thanks to the NHL suspending the season, if there are no more regular games, this would mark the third straight year that Konecny has hit 24 goals exactly. This year was a little different than previous years, as he did it in 16 fewer games while seeing an insignificant decrease in shots per game (from 2.22 last year to 2.14 this year). His shooting percentage rose from 13.2 per cent in 2018-19 to 17 per cent this year. There's no real reason for this increase, as his linemates were pretty much the same (Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier) and he only scored five power-play goals (one goal higher than 2018-19).

5. Jack Eichel

Elite superstars aren't immune to being on this list, but they are less likely. They generally take so many shots that the shooting percentage levels out over time. Eichel came into this season with a career average shooting percentage of 9.7 per cent and a career high of 10.2 per cent. This year, he exploded for 15.9 per cent. That's the kind of shooting percentage you want from an elite player.

4. Mika Zibanejad

Zibanejad is going to be one of the most debated players next year when it comes to projections. On one hand, an argument that he can build off this season and finish with a 50-goal, 100-point pace next year makes sense. But you can also envision him coming back to earth with a 30-goal, 75-point pace. This year, Zibanejad led the league in goals per game at 0.72 and his 41 goals were fifth. However, his 19.7 shooting percentage was second highest among all players with at least 10 goals. In his three previous seasons with the Rangers, he averaged 12.5 per cent. If he had that average this year, we're talking about Zibanejad's 26 goals, and not his 41.

3. Bryan Rust

I've covered Rust numerous times over the past couple of months, and there are plenty of reasons why he did so well this season: Playing with elite linemates, getting top power-play minutes, upping his shot rate, etc. All that also led to a career high in shooting percentage. Coming into this year, he averaged a shooting percentage of 10.7 shooting per cent. This year, that jumped up to 17.9 per cent. When added up with the other factors, it led to a career high 27 goals in 55 games (or 40 goals in an 82-game campaign).

2. Sebastian Aho

While there was plenty of talk about David Pastrnak, Alexander Ovechkin and Auston Matthews quests for 50 goals, lost in the discussion was Aho's season. With 38 goals in 68 games, Aho was on pace for 46 goals (he scored 15 goals in his last 21 games). He averaged more than three shots per game for the first time in his career, but he also shot 18.4 per cent (he came into the season averaging 12.6 per cent). Aho is still underrated by many general managers, but he should be considered a threat to score 50 goals at some point in the next few years.

1. Alex Killorn

Killorn led the NHL this season in shooting percentage among players with at least 10 goals. Coming into this season, the Lightning forward had a career shooting percentage of 10.3 per cent. This year he almost doubled that to 20 per cent. That's a key reason why he was on pace for 31 goals, despite never posting 20 goals before. I'd be worried about overvaluing him next year as he normally finishes with around 150 shots.

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
EVGENI MALKIN PIT 5 4 7 11
ADAM FOX NYR 4 1 6 7
JAKUB VORACEK PHI 6 0 10 10
NATHAN MACKINNON COL 5 2 6 8
MIKA ZIBANEJAD NYR 29 25 19 44
NIKITA KUCHEROV T.B 24 16 20 36
KEVIN FIALA MIN 11 9 7 16
EVANDER KANE S.J 7 5 5 10
KYLE CONNOR WPG 7 8 2 10
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS EDM 17 8 16 24

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency NSH Players
24.2% MATT DUCHENE FILIP FORSBERG MIKAEL GRANLUND
20.8% NICK BONINO ROCCO GRIMALDI CRAIG SMITH
12.7% VIKTOR ARVIDSSON RYAN JOHANSEN COLTON SISSONS

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