If you happened to catch FrozenPool’s tweet (or Dobber’s retweet) about the site’s new tracking feature, you already know where this ramblings is going…
That’s right – we can now keep track of what kind of shot players are favoring and avoiding, and I’m going to take a look at the rookies leaders in a few categories from last season to check out their preferred methods of attack. Let’s dive in.
Let’s start with some tip-ins. This is clearly a tough stat to accumulate, since there were no rookies even close to the top scoring in this category (for reference, the league leaders were Jake DeBrusk and Matt Tkachuk with 9 apiece). Rookie leaders in 2018-19 were:
Oskar Lindblom – 4
Anthony Cirelli – 3
Colin White – 3
Andrei Svechnikov – 3
Michael Rasmussen – 3
Michael Dal Colle – 3
An interesting note on this category – Dal Colle only had 3 goals on the year. So he is currently tipping in 100% of his NHL goals!
One observation we can make is that everyone on this list are 6′ or over. Relatively big by today’s standards for rookies. This isn’t hard evidence for any kind of conclusion – Mathieu Joseph, Filip Chytil, and Lucas Wallmark all came up blank for tip-ins despite surpassing the 6′ mark – its just an interesting observation that the players with this skill in their toolbox happened to be above-average height among their peers.
Despite only notching one goal on the year recorded as a “tip-in”- if Brady Tkachuk can learn from his older brother he’s going to be dangerous. He led all rookies with 21 attempts – good for top-20 in the league. Just has to start converting…and when he does his totals are going to see a nice little bump.
As tracking for this information gets better, I would love to combine shot distance, rebound goals, and tip-ins to really get a good analysis of who I want working the crease.
Let’s move on to a skill being used less and less in today’s game: the slap shot.
No one will be surprised to hear the shot league leaders for forwards in 2018-19 were Ovi and Stammer with 110 and 78, respectively. The list drops off pretty quickly after the top-5 names, so we get to see some rookies not too far down the rankings:
Elias Pettersson – 31
Conor Garland – 17
Lucas Wallmark – 13
Denis Malgin – 10
Pettersson stood out from his peers up front quite a bit in this category in the total number of shots, and he also stood out in terms of capitalization. He scored 8 slap shot goals, good for a 28.6% conversion rate – 7th among players who actually shot more than once or twice. The other players on the list above only managed 1, 0, and 1 goal each respectively from their shot totals.
Not only is he converting on his slap shot attempts, but he’s using this weapon a TON. 22% of the time to be exact. This is only a few percent behind Patrick Laine (25%). Several high-profile rookies (at least among prospect junkies) didn’t register a single slapper on the season, including Jesse Puljujarvi, Lias Andersson, and Max Comtois. Time to bring it back into style guys!
On the back end, its still much more popular. Burns broke 100, and Yandle, Subban, Josi, Pulock, and Boychuk were in the 90s. The top rookies on the blueline were:
Rasmus Andersson – 51
Rasmus Dahlin – 47
Erik Cernak – 39
In Andersson’s and Cernak’s cases, they favored the clapper much more than a forward, using it 44% and 36% of the time, respectively. Dahlin though only used it 27% of the time, similar to Pettersson. So it’s by no means a defenseman’s top option anymore.
Ok let’s do one more – the backhand.
League scoring leaders: Skinner and Gaudreau each with 8.
League attempt leaders: Skinner and Crosby with 44 each.
Rookie scoring leaders:
Andrei Svechnikov – 5
Anthony Cirelli – 4
Oskar Lindblom – 4
Mathieu Joseph – 4
For the big names like Crosby, Skinner, and Gaudreau, their backhands account for roughly 20% of the goals on the season. This is true for other high-profile scorers on the list such as Huberdeau, Radulov, and Oshie. Obviously for some top scorers, this percentage is far lower (Tavares got 5 but this is only 12% of his, and Kane got 6, but this is only 13% of his total). Svechnikov is at 25%, which essentially tells me that his backhand is fine, he now just need to get the rest of his repertoire a little more use. Once he can score the typical wristers and snapshot like the rest of the names in this paragraph, he’s going to be one diverse sniper.
In terms of backhand attempts, Svechnikov is again at the top of the rookie list with 27 (roughly 14% of the shots he takes). This is on par with most of the names in the top-30 for backhand scoring, which once again tells me that this is for sure a top-end skill he has in his toolbox already being deployed. A surprising name close on the list was Filip Chytil, who took 26 backhand attempts, accounting for roughly 20% of his total chances! FOr reference, this is the percentage that Crosby sits at, so unless Chytil amps up that skill a thousand percent, he needs to diversify a bit because he won’t be getting anywhere near Crosby’s totals. Brady Tkachuk wasn’t far behind him with 22 attempts, but only scoring on 3 of them. Just like the tip-in observation above – once he starts converting on these chances that he’s already getting at a high rate, he’s going to be an extremely dangerous and diverse scorer. The sky is the limit if he nails down these skills.
This is a dangerous rabbit hole and I need to sleep, but there is so much more details we could dig into with this information. I highly encourage you to dive in yourself with Dobber’s FrozenTools report generators that you can find here:
Thanks for reading, and best of luck as the first week of regular-season hockey is finally upon us!