How many goals will Jordan Eberle score next season?

Jonathan Willis
July 16 2012 09:27AM

Jordan Eberle had a great 2011-12 season. However, his goal-scoring was largely shooting percentage-based – does that mean it’s going to drop off, or is Eberle one of the league’s rare high-percentage shooters?

To try and answer that question, I decided to look at a group of 15 players since the mid-1990’s who had posted shooting percentage totals similar to Jordan Eberle over their first two seasons. The list is as follows, with the group average compared to Eberle’s totals over his first two seasons at the bottom:

Rk Player From To GP G A PTS S S%
1 Mark Parrish 1999 2000 154 50 31 81 281 17.8
2 Jonathan Toews 2008 2009 146 58 65 123 339 17.1
3 Paul Stastny 2007 2008 148 52 97 149 323 16.1
4 Alexander Radulov 2007 2008 145 44 51 95 279 15.8
5 Evgeni Malkin 2007 2008 160 80 111 191 514 15.6
6 Steven Stamkos 2009 2010 161 74 67 141 478 15.5
7 Lee Stempniak 2006 2007 139 41 38 79 266 15.4
8 Thomas Vanek 2006 2007 163 68 64 132 441 15.4
9 Ilya Kovalchuk 2002 2003 146 67 51 118 441 15.2
10 Ryan Malone 2004 2006 158 44 43 87 292 15.1
11 Dany Heatley 2002 2003 159 67 89 156 454 14.8
12 Martin Havlat 2001 2002 145 41 51 92 278 14.7
13 Alexander Semin 2004 2007 129 48 47 95 335 14.3
14 Sidney Crosby 2006 2007 160 75 147 222 528 14.2
15 Jonathan Cheechoo 2003 2004 147 37 26 63 269 13.8
  Average     151 56 65 121 368 15.3
* Jordan Eberle 2011 2012 147 52 67 119 338 15.4

As we can see, the averages compare very well to Eberle’s two-year totals, so this would seem to be a comparable group. How did they do in their third NHL season?

To answer that question, I’ve nixed Alexander Radulov (he left for Russia after his second NHL season) and gathered the numbers for this group’s third year:

Player GP G SH SH%
Mark Parrish 70 17 123 13.8%
Jonathan Toews 76 25 202 12.4%
Paul Stastny 45 11 118 9.3%
Evgeni Malkin 82 35 290 12.1%
Steven Stamkos 82 45 272 16.5%
Lee Stempniak 80 13 162 8.0%
Thomas Vanek 82 36 240 15.0%
Ilya Kovalchuk 81 41 341 12.0%
Ryan Malone 64 16 125 12.8%
Dany Heatley 31 13 83 15.7%
Martin Havlat 67 24 179 13.4%
Alexander Semin 63 26 185 14.1%
Sidney Crosby 53 24 173 13.9%
Jonathan Cheechoo 82 56 317 17.7%
Total 958 382 2810 13.6%
Average 68 27 201 13.6%

The games played total is lower, but I wouldn’t read too much into that – it’s really a function of three players (Stastny, Heatley and Crosby) missing time in their third seasons. Overall, shooting percentage fell significantly – Stamkos and Cheechoo were the significant exceptions, though Cheechoo would fall off the map over the next two seasons – but an increase in shot rates made up the vast majority of the difference.

Based on this group, we would expect Jordan Eberle to see a jump in total shots, a slight dip in shooting percentage, and maintain similar goal-scoring numbers next season. Or would we?

The Other Way of Looking At It

In our initial look at this problem, we considered the first and second years of these players as one sample, not bothering to split up those two seasons to see how much progress each player made. If we do that, how does Eberle compare to the average?

Player 1GP 1G 1S 1SH% 2GP 2G 2S 2SH%
Mark Parrish 73 24 129 18.6% 81 26 152 17.1%
Jonathan Toews 64 24 144 16.7% 82 34 195 17.4%
Paul Stastny 82 28 185 15.1% 66 24 138 17.4%
Evgeni Malkin 78 33 242 13.6% 82 47 272 17.3%
Steven Stamkos 79 23 181 12.7% 82 51 297 17.2%
Lee Stempniak 57 14 100 14.0% 82 27 166 16.3%
Thomas Vanek 81 25 204 12.3% 82 43 237 18.1%
Ilya Kovalchuk 65 29 184 15.8% 81 38 257 14.8%
Ryan Malone 81 22 139 15.8% 77 22 153 14.4%
Dany Heatley 82 26 202 12.9% 77 41 252 16.3%
Martin Havlat 73 19 133 14.3% 72 22 145 15.2%
Alexander Semin 52 10 92 10.9% 77 38 243 15.6%
Sidney Crosby 81 39 278 14.0% 79 36 250 14.4%
Jonathan Cheechoo 66 9 94 9.6% 81 28 175 16.0%
Average 72 23 160 14.3% 79 34 208 16.1%
Jordan Eberle 69 18 158 11.4% 78 34 180 18.9%

In the first year, things look very comparable – Eberle’s shooting percentage (and consequently his goal-scoring) is a bit lower than the group average, but overall he’s in the range. The group managed 2.22 shots/game, on average; Eberle managed 2.30.

In year two, things change dramatically – because while our average group enjoys a modest bump in shooting percentage and a big bump in shots-per-game (they go from 2.22 shots/game up to 2.63 shots/game), Eberle sees no increase in shots-per-game and a massive increase in shooting percentage. Eberle literally goes from firing 2.30 shots per game in his rookie season to 2.31 as a sophomore.

The fact that Eberle’s increase – unlike our group average – is based on shooting percentage and not an increase in shots is troubling, because it raises doubts that his shot totals will increase in the same manner that the group as a whole did. We also know, barely short of a certainty, that his shooting percentage is going to fall from his second year totals.

Knowing what we do, there are three individuals on the chart above worth looking at in more detail: Paul Stastny, Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Cheechoo. What makes those three interesting?

Stastny and Crosby are of interest because they’re the only two players from our sample to see their shot totals in their second season either decrease or show zero growth. Every other player saw their shot totals improve significantly. In both cases, the players went on to show negligible growth over the rest of their careers to date. Stastny fired 2.26 shots/game as a rookie, while on his career he’s fired 2.37 shots/game; Crosby fired 3.43 shots/game as a rookie and his career average currently sits at 3.39 shots/game.

Cheechoo is of interest because he’s the only player on this list with a similar improvement in shooting percentage. Like Eberle – and like nobody else on this list – his shooting percentage jumped ~160 percent from year one to year two. In Cheechoo’s case, he was able to ride the shooting percentage wave for one more season before a long, slow, slide pushed him into the AHL. In his last NHL season (with Ottawa in 2009-10) he scored five goals on 117 shots (4.27 SH%) and he’s now been an ~11% shooter over two AHL seasons.

What are you saying!?!?

It’s important not to draw too firm a conclusion from the players we’ve looked at above – this is a small group and it gets smaller when we look at three individuals who relate to Eberle in some way. However, based on this data, if I had to project how Eberle fares next season I’d go with the following:

  • A small increase in shots/game
  • A large decrease in shooting percentage
  • A significant decrease in goals scored

If I’m forced to pick a number? Over a full season I’d guess Eberle fires the puck ~190 times and scores ~26 goals. There’s any number of ways that could be wrong – particularly if Eberle finds a way to increase the number of shots he takes this season in a significant way – but if I were drawing a line in the sand that’s where I’d put it. I do not expect him to match 2011-12's totals in 2012-13.

THIS WEEK BY JONATHAN WILLIS

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Team Hall
July 16 2012, 10:46AM
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The stats do tell part of the story, no question. Statistically speaking, you can't maintain a high shooting percentage like that. But as some have pointed out, shooting percentage is not the only variable in this experiment. What about, as some have mentioned, the quality of the shots? Some players (Hall) just throw everything on net and hope it goes in. So they have a lower shooting percentage, and everyone says, they should be able to maintain that. Fact is, it could go lower. Then you have smarter players like Ebs who only shoot if they think they have a high chance of scoring, therefore, shots remain low, and shooting percentage stays high. And the geeks look at the shooting percentage and say, hmmm, he can't maintain that. Fact is, he could go higher. That's why they play the games guys.. lets wait and see.

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#52 Dman09
July 16 2012, 10:46AM
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Macy wrote:

@Dman I dunno, do they have that long to accept? Apparently it's for $1.075 million. Seems reasonable I suppose.

As long as its one year but I still think we have to many players unless they use him in a trade

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#53 Macy
July 16 2012, 10:47AM
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nevermind...just read Willis's article that said he signed the qualifying offer. Anyway, how bout that Eberle golf classic? $240,000 raised, pretty nice.

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#55 CGG
July 16 2012, 10:48AM
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There isn't anyting negative about postina realistic prediction based on some logic. I am not saying everything can be laid out in mathmatical terms, in fact I am a huge believer in the intangibles of the game. All I am saying is there is nothing wrong with posting an article with a fair assesment. I would love to see Jordan win MVP this year, but why have such high expectations? Jon's just posting a logical prediction, so instead of hating, put up your own prediction if you have a problem with whats written here and we can see what happens at years end. Could be fun. I think we see a slight increase in shot totals for Eberle because of a improved blueline (hoping that still happens), improved RNH and overall improved team, spreading the oppositions defense thinner. I say 29 goals and say 211 shots on net for Eberle. I am no mathmatician like Willis, but thats what I think. Great read Willis... love the stats and prediction stuff...

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#56 justDOit
July 16 2012, 10:53AM
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First of all - to all you amateur video producers out there - less is more. Less blurry/twisty effects, less club music behind hockey highlights. It's hockey, not a rave. Next time, save the ecstasy tabs for AFTER the project.

As for Ebs, while I think he might score fewer goals this coming season, I think his shooting percentage will remain stupidly high. The reasons for this are that there's even more talent on the club now, and still just one puck to play with. That, and there's bound to be a shortened season.

Edit: typo

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#57 Dman09
July 16 2012, 10:53AM
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@Jonathan Willis

Hey JW, is anyone at ON doing an article up about the CBA situation?

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#58 Ben
July 16 2012, 10:55AM
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A healthy Hall and a healthy RNH can completely fry this theory. If Hall is healthy and producing like people hope he can, defense's will have to choose which line to focus on, if they are separated that is. Even if they are together and Hall is flying it can create room for Eberle. A healthy RNH figures into it because of his set up man capabilities. If both Hall and RNH stay healthy last season, even if Eberle didn't miss those 6 games he's looking a 40 goal season. With those factors falling into place, I don't see him tailing off very much.

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#59 gcw_rocks
July 16 2012, 10:57AM
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Anyone know if its possible to segregate Eberle's shooting percentage between EV and PP? Don't see a split on NHL.com.

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#60 Metal&Oil
July 16 2012, 10:57AM
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@Jonathan Willis

Best shot in the game? No. Best backhand in the game? Absolutely!!!

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#62 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
July 16 2012, 11:08AM
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One thing to factor though, is that Eberle played less minutes then the vast majority of top line players.

It would be totally resonable to see his minutes increase by 20% next year, which should give close to 20% more shots.

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#64 db7db7db7
July 16 2012, 11:24AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

To everyone in the 30-40 goal range, I applaud your enthusiasm, but how does it happen? More shots or a repeat in shooting percentage?

No injuries to Ebs or Nuge would be a big help. So will the 20+ min/game that he'll be playing compared to last season. His shooting percentage will drop for sure, but he will end up with way more shots.

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#65 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
July 16 2012, 11:30AM
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@ JW

Maybe, I'm sure he could find an extra 2 minutes of shelterd time for Ebs if he really wanted.

That said, Eberle and Hall are 3rd year pro's now and should be starting to play power vs power.

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#66 Bucknuck
July 16 2012, 11:37AM
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I am having deja Vu.

JW, didn't you write a similar article about Brule a few years ago. You stated that he wouldn't sustain his incredible shooting percentage after his 17 goal campaign.

The response was similar... hence the deja vu.

The extrapolation on the Brule supposition was that the Oil should "sell high" since Brule had some good trade value at the time and could get a good return. In retrospect that would have been pretty friggin smart. You've taught me to look at shot percentages seriously now.

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So Feb and March Smyth and Horcoff's time goes down. Right? They were sheltering the kids?

Eberle's totals those months 14 goals in 28 games.

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@ Bucknuck

Just like Jones wouldn't be close to his 18 goals again?

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#69 bleedingoil
July 16 2012, 11:42AM
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@Jonathan Willis

shots....definitely more shots. With a healthy squad and proper puck feeding from the D, and Hodichuck/Eager being unleashed to set the rules of touching the kids, we will see more shots from the top 2 lines.

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#70 Oilcruzer
July 16 2012, 11:47AM
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I'd guess but how many games are we expecting the teams to play this season?

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#72 bleedingoil
July 16 2012, 11:53AM
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@Bucknuck

the difference is that Brule was clearly and anomaly, but Ebs should maintain a top 20 shooting percentage in the league, if not higher for the duration of his next contract at least.

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Is it really that far fetched that Eberle ends up with 50 more shots next year, thus making up for a lower shooting percentage? Put up 230 shots with a 13% average gives him 30 goals.

Barring injury I don't think it's far fetched that the kid comes up with 30+.

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#74 TigerUnderGlass
July 16 2012, 12:02PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Eberle's ice-time is worth noting, no question.

Also worth noting: the fact that he played middling competition and a ton of offensive zone time this year. If Krueger decides to use Eberle more, the minutes will get much, much harder than they were this past season.

I sort of expect that eventually Yakupov takes the toughs and Eberle crushes seconds. Not next year though.

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#75 TigerUnderGlass
July 16 2012, 12:03PM
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@Jonathan Willis

What happens when you look at players by age instead of years played?

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#76 huh?
July 16 2012, 12:04PM
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His shooting percentage may be high and shots low, but watching the games he didn't take very many shots from outside areas. Most of the shots were from "high percentage areas." I know this doesn't fall into a measurable stat but rather seeing alot of his goals.

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I hate this website too Wanye, can't quote anymore.

Also, your shift button appears to be stuck again.

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#78 TigerUnderGlass
July 16 2012, 12:10PM
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@Jonathan Willis

I'd also be curious to see this done with shots/60 instead of per game. I'm not suggesting it would necessarily tell a different story, but I'm curious.

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#81 Bucknuck
July 16 2012, 12:13PM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

@bleedingoil @OB Jr

I am not comparing Brule to Eberle. I am comparing the irrational angry reaction by the people who read the article.

Jones didn't maintain his shooting percentage, just as predicted. He did get more shots and his goal totals reflect that.

For the record, my bet is that Eberle has a career shooting percentage in the top ten, and his shots go up, so that he stays as a 30 goal man most of his career.

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I don't think it's far fetched that a kid with 2 years under his belt ends up shooting more.

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James Neal, 171, 200, 222(pro-rated), 329

Giroux 67 in 42, 145, 169, 242

Perry 98 in 56, 194, 200, 283

My mistake, I guess year 4 is when we should expect a shot increase.

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#87 Wax Man Riley
July 16 2012, 12:37PM
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Big Cap wrote:

Ebs potted 34 goals and 76 points. What would his totals of been had Hall and RNH not missed 20 games?

RNH was rookie and still was dominant. Its gonna be very scary this year watching RNH with more confidence, size ans skill set up Ebs.

Ebs will also have Yak and Schultz to play with and take some of the top defense pairings of his shifts.

Its is very possible for a 40-45 goal season with a mid 90`s point total.

What if Eberle benefited from the absence of Hall and RNH?

He was now "the guy." He was the ones taking the shots as opposed to them. There are only so many shots that can be taken in a game.

It may have inflated his stats.

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#88 TigerUnderGlass
July 16 2012, 12:41PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Age and shots/60 are both interesting ideas to look at, and ones that I haven't really dug into yet.

Worth noting on the latter point: Eberle's ice-time was really similar in both years one and two, so there wasn't a big shots/60 jump for him.

I think I was looking at shots/60 more in terms of general expectations for players than something with Eberle specifically.

There are players who've had shot total jumps, around years 3 or 4, but I'd like to know how much of that is increased ice time and how much an increase in shot rate.

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#89 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 16 2012, 01:08PM
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Agree with Koolaid.

50 goals if he shifts to the middle as the Oilers second line center. If he stays on the right side next season. he pots 31.

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#90 Jason Gregor
July 16 2012, 01:14PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I don't necessarily think it will be so hard for Eberle to get his shot totals up, I'm just not convinced it's going to happen.

I'm betting the shooting percentage falls a little more than you expect it to, though - since the lockout, only four players have maintained a SH% north of 16.0% - two crease-crashers (Holmstrom, Brunette) one very selective shooter (Tanguay) and one freak (Stamkos).

One more shot every 2.73 games would get him to 210. I think with extra 90 seconds a night he could do it...

Either way his SH% will drop, but if he shoots more it won't drop too far.

Ryan Jones did this the past two years..

2011...18 goals on 126 shots for 14.3% 2012... 17 goals on 137 shots for 12.4%

While he dropped almost 2% his total goals only went down by one...

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#91 toprightcorner
July 16 2012, 01:20PM
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JW,

Is there a way to calculate SH% on quality scoring chances? One thing I have notices with Ebs, especially compared to Hall or other Oilers, that when he is in a good position to score, he does. He hits the open corners, raises the puck when needed or takes that extra second before shooting. He also rarely takes pointless shots from bad angles (ala Moreau)that many of the guys with high shot totals do.

Players with 250+ shots are usually shooting from everywhere and that decreases they SH% a fair amount and can be deceiving compared to a player who waits for quality scoring chances to shoot.

Then would it not be quality of scoring chance SH% then just plain SH%. IS than not why dmen on the power play have low single digit SH%?

Based on that theory, I don't think Ebs shooting % goes down as much as you are suggesting, and maybe only drop by 2% or so.

With all of your comparisons, one thing they fail to do is show that most of those players that were wingers, ended up getting a centre to play with as talented as RNH after their first year and that centre having the likelihood to improve each year for the next few years.

I would suggest that with increased playing time as well as RNH improving even more at his sick passing, the Ebs could easily increase his shots by 15%, most of those additional shots being of a quality scoring nature. Even if his shooting position dropped 2%, I can see him equalling last years goal total.

I obviously back that up with mathematical statistics because I have no idea if a fairly accurate SH% on quality scoring chances even exists.

The other major factor is who plays the left wing. If it is Hall, Ebs will likely get less shots than if Hall was on another line and Ebs is that lines primary shooter.

In the long run, I see Ebs as a 30G 50A type of player. Hall more of a 35G 35A player and RNH a 15G 70A type of player. Yes I think RNH will be the teams leading scorer for many years to come.

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#93 The Beaker
July 16 2012, 01:29PM
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I really dont care if his goals are at 26 but his assists go up by another 20.

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#94 TigerUnderGlass
July 16 2012, 01:52PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Yeah, I'm digging into it now. Hopefully I'll have something sometime this week.

Excellent. I look forward to it. I'm leaning towards PP time being a bigger factor than most expect.

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#95 DieHard
July 16 2012, 01:52PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

It doesn't sound far-fetched, but how often does a 22-year old who saw no increase in shots/game between years one and two see a big spike in season three?

I don't know, and I don't think you do either.

"It doesn't sound far-fetched, but how often does a 22-year old who saw no increase in shots/game between years one and two see a big spike in season three?"

Because he was on a team that finished 30th and 29th. What happens when we're 15th or 10th best. Shots taken should go up ... NO?

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#96 The Beaker
July 16 2012, 02:00PM
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@DieHard

Yeah it would be interesting to see what happens to comparable players if overall team shots go up. I have nothing to back this up but werent the oilers one of the worst for being outshot last year?

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#97 madjam
July 16 2012, 02:14PM
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I think it will depend a lot on the type of team game Kreuger hopes to impliment .

Oilers are presently like a golf game - DRIVE FOR SHOW AND PUTT FOR DOUGH . We have the firepower over last few seasons with Yakupov in that perception , but still lack the middle game and finishing elements (short game ,chipping and putting so to speak ) . So far only J.Schultz (unknown quantity as yet ) has been added . Other than the drive for show (our young forward elites ) not much else has been done to upgrade the rest of our game .

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#98 Pucker
July 16 2012, 02:42PM
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I don't know what he's going to do for shots but I do know this, whenever he takes a shot, in my mind he has a good chance of scoring. It's a goal-scorer's shot. . . reminds me of Mike Bossy. Not in velocity. Just that he seems to instintively seems to know where to shoot and the goalie usually has to move to make a save.

If he doesn't beat his 34 goals of last year, his assist total is going to increase. Oiler's are going to score more goals, so I figure he's going to be more than a point per game player.

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#99 Truth
July 16 2012, 02:47PM
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42 goals next year.

Eberle is money, that's why his shooting % is high. Look at those goals on the highlights; he's not doing the ol' Heatley clapper everytime the puck is in his proximity, Eberle picks his corners and scores a lot on dekes. Not to mention the years of easy tap-ins by virtue of being THE gifted right hander to recieve all of the Nuge's passes on the PP. Hall-L, Yakupov-L, Nuge-L. Gagner and Hemsky both shoot right, but I would call them the pass first players.

In thinking about the PP, how interesting would it be if Yakupov could man the point if his shot and release are the real deal. Eberle-RNH-Hall up front, J.Schultz-Yakupov on D. That is ridiculous for the next 15 years.

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We were 2nd last in shots per game and difference in shots for and against.

Shots for game average was 29.7 and we were 26.7.

Shot differential was -4.

So we ever get back to average we are looking at roughly 3 shots per game or 246 more shots in a year. Take 8% of that and you get 20 more shots for Eberle and that's without him changing much at all other than the team being better.

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