Snipers & Their Shooting Percentages



It’s rather amazing….although not surprising….that Oiler fans, despite all the evidence to the contrary, cannot allow themselves to entertain the notion that the young players on other teams are clearly superior is some ways to the Hall, Hopkins, Eberle, Yakupov group that is little more than pedestrian considering their draft pedigrees.

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet noted in his weekly “30 Thoughts” segment today:

– Players who’ve scored 30 goals at age 20 in the 21st century: Alexander Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jonathan Toews, Evgeni Malkin, Anze Kopitar, Patrice Bergeron, Marian Gaborik, Evander Kane… and Sean Monahan. 

Last night, over at Lowetide’s blog, I happened to note Monohan’s accomplishment and the reaction was immediate, predictable and hilarious in its logical vapidity.

The jist of the argument seems to be that, since Monahan’s shooting percentage is above league average, it MUST regress to the mean.

That, of course, is absolute nonsense, and, in fact, the Lowetidians said exactly the same thing last season when Monahan’s shooting percentage was 15.7%.

Well, here we are a season and 78 games later and Monahan’s shooting percentage is 16.4%

NHL average shooting percentage for forwards hovers around 11% although it has been declining since peaking at over 15% in the “scoring glory” days of the mid 80’s.

Quant Hockey has some great breakdowns for those interested, here.

Now, let’s bear in mind that, to reach an average, some players will be below average and some will  be above average…it does not mean that ALL players are average…they aren’t.

The question then becomes…are there players in the contemporary NHL who have career shooting percentages in the 14% – 16% range which seems like it might be Monahan’s established level of ability.

The answer is….YES.

In the discussion over at Lowetide last night, I cited Alex Tanguay as one example of a player who has maintained a shooting percentage well above league average for many years…but he is far from the only one. (source)

Alex Tanguay – 18.97

Steven Stamkos – 17.17

Brendan Morrow – 15.97

Jonathan Toews – 14.92

Mike Ribiero – 14.93

Milan Lucic – 14.71

Curtis Glencross – 14.66

Thomas Vanek – 14.56

Dany Heatley – 14.50

Sidney Crosby – 14.45

Troy Brouwer – 14.43

Pavel Datsyuk – 14.43

Jordan Eberle – 14.00

The last name on that list is interesting because Oiler fans think of Jordan Eberle as a pure sniper…something I can agree with but I wonder why Oiler fans aren’t calling for him to “regress” to the mean.

Perhaps it’s because he’s a more talented goal scorer than average just as it is entirely possible that Monahan is actually a better sniper than Eberle as all the available evidence suggests he is.

In his second season, Eberle had an 18.9% shooting percentage and there were more than a few who correctly predicted that was not sustainable since, if it was, he would have been among the best snipers in modern history but, 3 seasons later, Eberle is still well above average and I can’t think of any reason why that will change.

In fact, Eberle apparently had wrist issues early in the season which likely means his current season percentage would be higher than it is currently.

Having said that, there is always a chance that Monahan’s percentage will dip in future seasons but to insist it must regress to the mean is a logical fallacy of immense proportions.

And, finally, here’s something else to consider….Monahan got off to a very slow start to the season…scoring only 2 goals on 27 shots in his first 10 games for a shooting percentage of only 7%.

He’s been lights out ever since and I would wager his shooting percentage will remain well above average in the future.


4 thoughts on “Snipers & Their Shooting Percentages

  1. As an oiler fan I can be objective. I truly believe most Oiler fans over value the players on the team. Another problem is reliance on stats when it favours their arguments and not using it when the wonderkids stats look bad.


      1. I have found that having expectations at the bottom of the Bell curve are appropriate involving critical discussion of any of the Oilers’ anointed saviors.


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