Frozen Pool Forensics: Shayne Gostisbehere

by Cam Robinson on February 19, 2016

Digging deep into the record-breaking rookie himself – Shayne Gostisbehere. Is he for real?


This week, we’re looking at just the second defenseman profiled on Frozen Pool Forensics this season. A few months ago we profiled John Klingberg and likened him as potentially the next Erik Karlsson. Well, now its time to liken Shayne Gostisbehere as the next John Klingberg.


Gostisbehere has always been a free wheeling player. He was a standout for Union College during his three seasons in the NCAA, which culminated in a NCAA National Championship, as well as taking home the Most Outstanding Player honours for the Frozen Four Tournament; an award he undoubtedly deserved. Don’t believe me, check out this highlight package from that final game where he ended up with a goal, two assists and plus-seven rating! That’s right, plus-seven in a game that ended 7-4.


Gostisbehere’s highlights from National Championship Game.



Gostisbehere’s first professional season was derailed early with an unfortunate ACL injury that cost him all but seven games split between the Flyers and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL. He performed admirably in that short time, producing five assists in five AHL contests and did not look out of place in his two game stint with the big club. During his cup of coffee with the Flyers, his penchant for sparkling offensive plays was missing, likely due to trying to impress now former bench boss, Craig Berube with a strong defensive game.


After being sent to Lehigh Valley to begin this season and producing 10 points in 14 games, a horrible sounding injury to Mark Streit– pubic plate detachment – was the opportunity Ghost had been waiting for. He was recalled on November 14th and if all is right in the world, it will be the last time he finds himself moving up or down from the NHL.




Just to toot my own horn for a moment, but I wrote this less than 10 days after Gostisbehere was recalled. While we’re still waiting to see if Connor Hellebuyck has the chops to keep up to the amazing numbers Petr Mrazek is putting up these days, I don’t think anyone can argue that Gostsisbehere has been everything Klingberg was and more for Dallas last season.


In fact, Gostisbehere is currently producing at a 0.84 point per game rate; much higher than Klingberg’s 0.61 point per game totals last season and slightly higher than Klingberg’s 0.81 per game rate this season. On top of that, he is in the midst of an amazing, NHL-record setting 13-game point streak for rookie defenders.


Let’s rattle off a few numbers from Gostisbehere’s current streak just to put into context how phenomenal the 22-year-old has been. Credit to the Sons of Penn for a few of these stats.


Ghost has scored 11 goals this season, and every one of them have changed the lead of the hockey game. This means that all of his goals either tied the game, put the Flyers up one or ended up as the game winner.


Gostisbehere’s three overtime goals are a franchise-record and he reached that mark quicker than any player in NHL history, completing the feat in just 17 games. He’s got a long way to go if he wants to break Paul Coffey’s 28-game streak from 1986, which stands as the longest ever by a defenseman.


Fellow rookie, Artemi Panarin, who was featured on this column not that long ago, is the odds on favourite to take home the Calder trophy this season. However, Gostisbehere has been making a charge despite missing the first six weeks of the season. He currently sits third in points-per-game (0.84) behind only Connor McDavid (1.20) and Panarin (0.97), and leads all freshmen in power play points with 18.



Let’s take a look at how Gostisbehere is producing such eye-popping numbers. Using Dobber’s Line Combination’s Tool, we can see that the affectionately named GhostBear has yet to have a locked in defense partner at even-strength; seeing chunks of time with Brandon Manning, Michael Del Zotto, Evgeny Medvedev and more recently next to the anchor that is Andrew MacDonald.




Line Combination
























Yet its not so much his even-strength play that has poolies swooning, its his power play performance; and in that respect he is spending his time on the ice with some pretty fantastic line mates and situations. Since the promotion to the big club, Gostisbehere slid right onto the first unit power play with Claude Giroux, Jakob Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn. That unit has come together to convert at a 20 percent clip since December 1st, a nice bump from the 12.5 percent they were converting on in October, before Gostisbehere was recalled.


Now its not all puppies and sunshine when digging into Gostisbehere’s numbers. Checking out his player profile, we can see that he’s converting on 12.4 percent of his shots. That’s certainly a high number for a defenseman, but not completely unheard of. Mike Green operated at over a 12 percent mark a couple of times during his hay day. As did greats such as Paul Coffey, Ray Bourque and Phil Housley. While it’s encouraging to see Gostisbehere convert on such a high rate of his shots while at the same time taking a strong number each game – his 89 total shots are good for just under three per game – it is likely we see a regression in this category. Unless of course we’re looking at the next Phil Housley, who stylistically, isn’t too far off the mark.


Gostisbehere is seeing 61.56 percent of his shifts starting in the offensive zone. That’s some plum assignments. Some of that has to do with the 3:53 of power play time per contest he is averaging and some of that has to do with him not facing tough shutdown assignments. The message is clear though: Gostisbehere is an offensive player and he is being put in places to succeed and maximize his talents. This alone is a great representation as to why Dave Hakstol was brought in from the University of North Dakota. He allows young players to play to their strengths and with it comes confidence and productivity.


What can fantasy owners expect from Gostisbehere in the final 26 games and beyond? This is a player who has shown fantastic skating ability, high-level on-ice intelligence and a spin-o-rama that would make Denis Savard nod in approval. He is just 22 years of age and has a ceiling that is sky-high. To suggest he has a Kris Letang-like future isn’t out of the question. Better yet, maybe in the not-so-distant future, we’ll be comparing the next hot-shot offensive defenseman as the next GhostBear.


Projected point-per-game pace for the remaining schedule: 0.7 – 0.8


Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I mostly retweet other people’s witty thoughts and occasionally add my own.