In last week’s column, we focused on players who saw a significant decrease in shooting percentage this season. This week, we’re going to look at players who saw a substantial boost in shooting percentage.
As a quick refresher, a player who takes 200 shots a season (just under 2.5 shots per game) and has an increase of five percentage points will score an extra 10 goals. Three hundred shots and an increase of six percentage points equals 18 more goals. This is enough to turn potential busts into keepers.
Usually, a higher-than-average shooting percentage should be a red flag going into next season. A veteran player who usually scores on eight per cent of his shots all of a sudden scoring on 14 per cent can sometimes be one great year to be followed by a regression next season. However, for younger players, a notable increase in shooting percentage could be the start of a great run of seasons.
Below are 10 players who saw noteworthy increases in shooting percentage this season.
10. Brock Nelson
Teammate Justin Bailey could have been in this spot, but he doesn’t shoot enough to be fantasy relevant. Instead, Nelson deserves recognition after scoring 37 goals, smashing his previous high of 26. His 2.4 shots per game are on pace with what he’s done the last few years, but his 21.6 per cent shooting is easily a career high. He came into the season averaging 14.3 per cent in his previous four seasons and 13.2 per cent in his career. That’s a difference of about 12-14 goals this season compared to what he usually would have potted.
9. Dylan Strome
Strome has always had a high shooting percentage (he shot 12.4 per cent in his worst season), but he doesn’t shoot often enough to be considered a goal scorer. He has yet to reach two shots per game in any season. This year, he averaged 1.8 shots per game, but his shooting percentage of 17.5 per cent was a career high, up from 12.7 per cent last year and a career average of 12.9 per cent. This led to 22 goals in 69 games for Strome, who is a restricted free agent but is rumoured to be on the trading block.
8. Clayton Keller
Keller would have posted his first 30-goal season if he had stayed healthy, and might have reached 35 goals if everything went perfect. Instead, he finished with 28 goals in 67 games thanks to a career-high 15.8 per cent shooting. His previous high was 11.3 per cent last year, and his career average before this season was 9.4 per cent. Since he shot seven per cent in 2017-18, he has improved his shooting percentage in each season, so this could be a new normal for Keller.
7. Anthony Duclair
Many times, a player who sees a skyrocketing increase in shooting percentage can often be written off as simply playing with elite linemates. That may seem to be the case for Duclair at first glance, but it’s not that simple. A year ago, he played mainly with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, but scored on only 9.6 per cent of his shots. This year, Duclair continued to play that top-six role with those two, but shot 18.6 per cent. That’s an obscene increase. A small factor is the power play, where he scored nine goals on 42 sho