Frozen Tools: Success by shot type



The new NHL playoff format is right around the corner. A few weeks ago we took a look at our high profile playoff performers, and revitalized a column that went through potential 'unlikely' playoff heroes. For the sake of your playoff prep go take a quick look at some of the players mentioned there.

This week I wanted to follow up on the shot type theme we addressed last week. In that column we focused on rebounds specifically as they are the highest percentage shot type that an NHL player can take. Unfortunately, they are also one of the most uncommon. This week I wanted to focus in on wrist shots, as they represent the majority of shots taken in the NHL.

As a quick recap we are reviewing the Dobber report Sh% by Type. It, as the name suggests, breaks out player shots by type as displayed in the abbreviated table below.


Wrist Backhand Slap
Name Pos Age Team GP Goals G SOG SH% G SOG SH% G SOG SH%
RYAN PULOCK D 25 NYI 68 10 5 64 7.8 0 1 0 4 89 4.5
BRENT BURNS D 35 S.J 70 12 4 94 4.3 1 5 20 5 87 5.7
P.K. SUBBAN D 31 N.J 68 7 1 33 3 0 8 0 4 83 4.8
NEAL PIONK D 24 WPG 71 6 2 76 2.6 1 5 20 3 80 3.8
ALEX OVECHKIN L 34 WSH 68 48 20 139 14.4 2 22 9.1 12 79 15.2


Also in last week's article, we saw the overall amounts and effectiveness of each shot type (again in the table below).


Wrist 3356 38046 8.82%
Backhand 612 5385 11.36%
Slap 662 9910 6.68%
Tip In 614 3710 16.55%
Snap 947 8962 10.57%
Wrap-around 44 611 7.20%
Deflected 203 1338 15.17%
Off Rebound 593 2046 28.98%


What we failed to address last week is that 54 percent of the total shots taken in the NHL are wrist shots (and even 51 percent of the shots coming from defensemen who we might expect to take more slap shots). From these data we also know that about 48 percent of the goals in the NHL in 2018-19 were scored from wrist shots (that makes sense as we see from the table above that some types of shots are more effective at converting than wrist shots). Given all of that it seems necessary to dive a little bit more into wrist shots in particular and see what we notice about the data.

To summarize briefly, wrist shots account for 54 percent of the total shots, 48 percent of the total goals, and have an NHL conversion rate of 8.82 percent.

To start then let's take a look at which players get the largest portion of their goals from wrist shots. (Remember league wide it is 48 percent). Below we have a selected table for wrist shots. It is sorted by the percentage of a player's total goals that came from wrist shots (% Wrist G) assuming that they had at least 20 goals.


Name Pos Age Team GP Goals G %WristG SOG SH%
JACK EICHEL C 23 BUF 68 36 27 75.00% 161 16.8
ANDRE BURAKOVSKY L 25 COL 58 20 15 75.00% 76 19.7
BRANDON SAAD L 27 CHI 58 21 15 71.43% 87 17.2
SEAN COUTURIER C 27 PHI 69 22 15 68.18% 113 13.3
WILLIAM NYLANDER C 24 TOR 68 31 21 67.74% 108 19.4
FILIP FORSBERG L 25 NSH 63 21 14 66.67% 113 12.4
NATHAN MACKINNON C 24 COL 69 35 23 65.71% 182 12.6
MAX PACIORETTY L 31 VGK 71 32 21 65.63% 192 10.9
ELIAS LINDHOLM C 25 CGY 70 29 19 65.52% 107 17.8
MATTHEW TKACHUK L 22 CGY 69 23 15 65.22% 110 13.6


Our top performers here get 75 percent of their goals from wrist shots, which is no small feat given league average is 48 percent. All of these players (unsurprisingly) are above the league average in shooting percentage. This is definitely expected as our data includes players who are very ineffective at scoring in general. We should note though a couple of the players (looking at you Max Pacioretty) are really pretty close to that league average. Pacioretty still put up 21 total goals from wrist shots, so output was not the problem (as you can see below); it just took him 80-90 more shots to get there than some of his peers.


Name Pos Age Team GP Goals G %WristG SOG SH%
AUSTON MATTHEWS C 22 TOR 70 47 28 59.57% 167 16.8
JACK EICHEL C 23 BUF 68 36 27 75.00% 161 16.8
SEBASTIAN AHO R 22 CAR 68 38 24 63.16% 105 22.9
NATHAN MACKINNON C 24 COL 69 35 23 65.71% 182 12.6
KYLE CONNOR L 23 WPG 71 38 23 60.53% 166 13.9
CONNOR MCDAVID C 23 EDM 64 34 22 64.71% 139 15.8
WILLIAM NYLANDER C 24 TOR 68 31 21 67.74% 108 19.4
MAX PACIORETTY L 31 VGK 71 32 21 65.63% 192 10.9


This table is the same information, just sorted by total goals. Again Pacioretty stands out by how low his shooting percentage is. Autson Matthews is also of note here, as he leads the league in wrist shot goals, but has the lowest percentage of total goals from wrist shots. It definitely helps him here that he has 10+ more goals to his name than most on this list. Another interesting note here is Sebastian Aho's 22.9 shooting percentage from wrist shots.

That leads us to the next table, sorted by shooting percentage (again minimum of 20 total goals required).


Name Pos Age Team GP Goals G %WristG SOG SH%
SEBASTIAN AHO R 22 CAR 68 38 24 63.16% 105 22.9
ALEX KILLORN C 30 T.B 68 26 16 61.54% 74 21.6
KYLE PALMIERI C 29 N.J 65 25 14 56.00% 69 20.3
ZACH HYMAN C 28 TOR 51 21 11 52.38% 55 20
ANDRE BURAKOVSKY L 25 COL 58 20 15 75.00% 76 19.7
JAKE GUENTZEL C 25 PIT 39 20 12 60.00% 61 19.7
WILLIAM NYLANDER C 24 TOR 68 31 21 67.74% 108 19.4
DOMINIK KUBALIK L 24 CHI 68 30 17 56.67% 90 18.9
ZACH PARISE L 35 MIN 69 25 14 56.00% 74 18.9
ELIAS PETTERSSON C 21 VAN 68 27 15 55.56% 80 18.8


Aho leads the pack here, but Alex Killorn is not too far behind.

Three things stand out to me from these data reviews; Pacioretty's volume and low shooting percentage, Matthew's goal total, and Aho's wrist shot shooting percentage. Let's dive into these players a bit more and see what their specific data can tell us.


Max Pacioretty:

Pacioretty has a history of being a strong shooter (wrist shot, slap shot, you name it), so on the one hand it should not be surprising to see him able to make the top wrist shot goal list because of strong shooting. On the other hand, over the four seasons leading up to 2019-20 he dropped almost a full shot on goal per game on average. He left 2018-19 with fewer than three shots per game for the first time essentially ever as a full time NHLer. 2019-20 changed that dramatically. He shot up to 4.3 shots per game and jumped back up over 30 goals (which didn't happen in 2017-18, or in 18-19). Clearly moving to Vegas has agreed with him in many ways and he was able to keep his shot pace up throughout the season. It is totally reasonable to think that his shot pace (wrist and otherwise) can continue, and given his very reasonable shooting percentage (his total shooting percentage is almost identical to his wrist shot percentage) he seems very capable of another 2019-20.


Auston Matthews:

Matthews has put up a number of excellent goal scoring seasons to date. 2019-20 is definitely the best, his 47 goals seven higher than his previous high in his rookie season. Matthews's shot count and his shooting percentage were both up overall, but not in a necessarily unsustainable way. He saw a significantly higher percentage of his team's power play but did not score more power-play goals (12). He also had more total time on ice (about a minute and a half of power-play time, but a minute and a half at even strength too). Moral of this story it looks like he made our wrist shot list by virtue of scoring a lot of goals, which seems pretty sustainable.


Sebastian Aho:

Aho came to our attention because of a very high shooting percentage from his wrist shots. Unsurprisingly, he has a relatively high total shooting percentage as well. His 18.4 overall percentage is four percent higher than his previous high, and about six percent higher than his previous three-year average. His power-play time stayed pretty constant and his power-play goal totals actually went down so it isn't necessarily that he was just putting in more goals from higher percentage situations. In this case it looks like that wrist shot production from that high shooting percentage isn't likely sustainable and he will need an increase in shot production to keep it up.


That is all for this week. Thanks for reading.

Stay safe out there.



Want more tool talk? Check out these recent Frozen Tool Forensics Posts.

Frozen Tools Forensics: Rebounds to Glory

Frozen Tool Forensics: Sorting through defensive prospects

Frozen Tools Forensics: Top Prospect Watch


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