Frozen Tools Forensics: Secondary Assist Rates for Ovechkin, Kopitar, Donskoi, and Others

Chris Kane

2021-12-10

Everyone will be happy to hear that since last week's article was posted about Winnipeg (recommending folks hold on to Winnipeg players) they have put up 16 goals in three games and there are now only three cold streaks listed in their player profiles. The only real cold streak of note is Josh Morrissey. We won't be diving into Winnipeg again this week though, I just hope the weekend was some vindication to anyone who held on.

This week we turn our collective attentions to assists. On the score sheet, all assists are great. In my fantasy matchups I will take them all. In terms of repeatability and predictiveness though they definitely aren't. The odd one out is secondary assists. They can vary quite wildly over smaller sample sizes, even samples as large as a season. The reason for this is pretty straightforward. That assist requires two other individuals to execute the play and there is a lot of randomness at work there. A player can make a great pass only to have the next player in line mess it up, or in an opposite situation they make the breakout pass, get off the ice and the next two in line make the magic happen.

As a quick example, let's take Connor McDavid. If it were possible to be good at secondary assists you would think that a generational talent like McDavid would be the one to do it. His secondary assist rate still varies very significantly. In this case we are looking at the percent of his assists that are secondary versus primary.

YearSec Asst %
2020-2130.6%
2019-2039.7%
2018-1924.0%
2017-1841.8%
2016-1737.1%
2015-1650.0%

This also means the total secondary assists McDavid can count on each year varies. So far his range is from 28 to 45 for a full season. Now for McDavid 17 secondary assists can be the difference between a 130-point pace and a 113-point pace ̵