Identifying breakout and rebound candidates for the 2022-23 NHL season –

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As we turn our attention to the opening of training camps in the National Hockey League, front offices have begun dissecting their possible rosters. Which players will make the cut? Which players need more time? And which players can deliver a big offensive upside surprise entering the 2022-23 season?

The last question is one that I find fascinating. It dominates preseason guesswork, where all 32 franchises are optimistic about their outlook. It’s impossible to blame teams for being optimistic, but the hype, especially among younger players, can be overwhelming at times.

A quick analysis I like to dust off during the offseason is to identify players who may be primed for breakout or recovery seasons. The NHL can be volatile, and in smaller samples (even entire seasons), strong and effective two-way hockey does not correlate with scoring.

But it tends to do so over time, which makes year-over-year analysis intriguing. If we can identify forwards who were aggressive and involved offensively without being rewarded on the stat sheet, we can reasonably only infer one of three things:

  1. The player is a relatively poor shooter of the puck.
  2. The player is affected by usage, which includes the quality of their teammates; either
  3. The player is unlucky.

It’s simplistic, but it’s generally true. Sometimes scoring rebounds are unavoidable; remember last season when Toronto auston matthews Did you start the year on a losing streak? That was pure lack of luck with the puck, as Matthews was generating a ton of offense without being rewarded. He finished the season with 60 goals. (We also write about Jeff Skinner having had bad luck a few years ago; Skinner scored 33 goals on a lackluster Sabers team last season.)

There’s no exact science, but we love strikers who shoot aggressively at the puck, and more specifically, take those shots from dangerous areas of the ice. It’s one thing to fill the stat sheet with shots, but if they’re coming from the perimeter, the chance of that puck finding the back of the net is small.

Let’s make an attempt to find some of these forwards. Quick and simple, we’re looking for strikers who (a) create shots at frontline pace, per 60 minutes of play; (b) generated expected goals at the front row rate, per 60 minutes of play; and (c) finished the year with the last six real goals scored.

That table is 18 players deep; this is how it looks:

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Of the 18 players we found, eight are also under 25, where body and skill development can be fuel for a big season, certainly more so than a 35-year-old who may be in the twilight of his career. .

If we assume that these forwards will generally produce at a similar rate in the attacking zone, we can see how many hidden goals there may have been last season. For example: what if each of these strikers scored at the goal rate expected of him? Or, what if these players posted their career average shooting percentage from last season, instead of what we observed?

Let’s plot this. The same 18 skaters shown below:

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You’ll notice that when historical shooting percentages are incorporated, the scoring potential is a bit quieter. That’s partly because there are some forwards here who are historically weaker-than-average shooters, as well as some skaters, namely Washington’s. Connor McMichael and the vancouver nils hoglander – with very limited games played in such early parts of his career.

That said, there are clearly several players who deserved a better fate than last season. Based on quality-adjusted shot volume, Florida Patric Hornqvist (+12), from Detroit Andrew Copp (+9) and Seattle Daniel Spring (+8, and in a PTO for next season) They were far more dangerous attackers last year than their scoring numbers suggest.

Looking at shooting percentages, Hornqvist (+7) and Sprong (+6) again look like players who experienced a lack of puck luck last year. But the one from Calgary blake coleman (+9) deserved a much better fate in the 2021-22 season, and I’d say he’s the established players’ best bet to come back strong next year.

However, it is the five youngest players who may be the most interesting to watch. The aforementioned McMichael and Hoglander, as well as those from Detroit Philip Zadina, Philip Quitil of the Rangers and of Edmonton Jesse Puljujarvi He put together very encouraging resumes last season. Our range of estimates on the talent of each of these shooters is wider than their established veteran – such is life when you’re a young player with limited games still in development.

But if you’re looking for a standout candidate among the younger skaters, I’d bet on one or more of the forwards from this group to start next season.

Data via Natural Stat Trick,, Evolving Hockey, Hockey Reference

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