Looking at Goals per Game…

One of our readers, Homie, thought that PPG wasn’t an accurate enough assessment on a player’s offensive value, so I decided to do one on Goals Per Game. Homie felt that Rick Nash was more valuable than I stated, and that he would be a top five GPG guy. Since Nash has been in the league for six years, I used those years to determine who has been the best sniper during that time.

Keep in mind that players like Oveckin and Crosby haven’t been in the league for six year, while other like Sundin, Jagr and Sakic were in the twilight of their careers.

Sorry Homie, but Nash is still not a top-five goal scorer, in fact he isn’t even in the top ten. Goals are one dimension of offence, and while I deem them more important than assists, to be considered great you have to be efficient scoring and passing.

Nash averages 0.44 GPG, 0.36 APG and is a 0.80 PGP player. He isn’t a point-a-game player in this league, so he isn’t great. He is good, but not great.

Here is the Goals Per Game in the last six years:

gpg_table1

I also decided to look at the all-time top goal scorers in the history of the game and see what their GPG was. These are the guys who averaged over a goal every second game, excluding active players.

gpg_table2

Here are the rest of the players who have scored 500 or more career goals. Only 41 players have lit the lamp 500 times.

gpg_table3

The active players that are on the list include: Brendan Shanahan (656), Teemu Selanne (579), Mats Sundin (564), Mark Recchi (545), Mike Modano (543), Keith Tkachuk (525) and Jeremy Roenick (513).

It’s too bad that Bossy’s career ended so early. You wonder how many more goals he could have scored. For the record in Gretzky’s first ten years (774 GP) he scored 637 goals for a 0.82 GPG, and in Lemieux’s first ten he played 494 games, tallied 599 goals for a 0.82 GPG.

Right now only Ovechkin, Heatley, and Kovalchuk are on pace to be considered amongst the ELITE goal scorers. Time will tell if they can keep up their torrid GPG pace.

  • The greatest goalscorer I've ever seen is Super Mario. When he got the puck at the red line, you just knew he was going to walk in and score and there was nothing you could do about it.

  • Ogden Brother wrote:

    The big blemish on the Oiler track record is 2003

    Agreed; but there are some other blemishes like: Mikhnov, Niinimaki, Schremp, etc…

    Ogden Brother wrote:

    Outside of that year the drafting has been average or better.

    Average or better; sounds kind of like a nice way of saying mediocre. I don't expect them to get every pick right: but it would be nice if they could find even ONE legit goal scorer every eight years or so… It's my pet theory that when wholesale changes are finally made in the amateur scouting dept; the debaucle of 2007 will be referenced alongside the debaucle of 2003. Only time will tell if I'm correct. Some of the signs are already there…

  • Chris wrote:

    Ogden Brother wrote:
    The big blemish on the Oiler track record is 2003
    Agreed; but there are some other blemishes like: Mikhnov, Niinimaki, Schremp, etc…
    Ogden Brother wrote:
    Outside of that year the drafting has been average or better.
    Average or better; sounds kind of like a nice way of saying mediocre. I don’t expect them to get every pick right: but it would be nice if they could find even ONE legit goal scorer every eight years or so… It’s my pet theory that when wholesale changes are finally made in the amateur scouting dept; the debaucle of 2007 will be referenced alongside the debaucle of 2003. Only time will tell if I’m correct. Some of the signs are already there…

    Thiers a pretty strong probability that Gagner will come out of the 07 class as the 2nd best pick. If that's the case I don't think many will focus on 15 and 21.

  • Ogden Brother wrote:

    Thiers a pretty strong probability that Gagner will come out of the 07 class as the 2nd best pick. If that’s the case I don’t think many will focus on 15 and 21

    Many what? Fans? Taking Gagner was the safe pick. Probably 20 other teams would have grabbed Gagner at that position: not exactly a major coup by Predergast and company. If neither Plante, nor Nash develop into solid NHL'ers: the 07 draft will have to be considered a failure; particularly if numerous other players available at 15th overall go on to have solid careers.

  • Chris wrote:

    It’s my pet theory that when wholesale changes are finally made in the amateur scouting dept; the debaucle of 2007 will be referenced alongside the debaucle of 2003. Only time will tell if I’m correct. Some of the signs are already there…

    It seems very early to decide anything about the 2007 draft. The Oilers got a very good player in Gagner (currently the 2nd best player out of the draft) and Plante and Nash are at least headed in the right direction. Outside of Perron is there even another player drafted after 15 that has played an NHL game?

    Given a couple more years you might be right, but I don't know what signs there are right now that 2007 was a bad draft year for the Oilers.

  • Chris wrote:

    Ogden Brother wrote:
    Thiers a pretty strong probability that Gagner will come out of the 07 class as the 2nd best pick. If that’s the case I don’t think many will focus on 15 and 21
    Many what? Fans? Taking Gagner was the safe pick. Probably 20 other teams would have grabbed Gagner at that position: not exactly a major coup by Predergast and company. If neither Plante, nor Nash develop into solid NHL’ers: the 07 draft will have to be considered a failure; particularly if numerous other players available at 15th overall go on to have solid careers.

    I know (or at least think) you are negative on purpose, but your expectations for mid to late 1st round draft picks are way to high.

    To give a little bigger sample size, here's pick 14/15/16 from 1998 – 2005 (too early to judge later years)

    Patrick Desrouche
    Mathiew Chionard
    Eric Chionard
    Jeff Wilson
    Scott Kelman
    Dave Tanabe
    Vaclav Nedrost
    Artym Kryokav
    Marcel Hossa
    Chuck Kobasew
    Igor Knysaz
    RJ Umberger
    Chris Higgen
    Jesse Niinimaki
    Jacob Klepsi
    Bret Seabrook
    Robert Nilsson
    Steve Bernie
    Devon Dubnyk
    Alexander Radulov
    Petri Nikolenian
    Sasha Pokuluk
    Ryan O'marra
    Alex Bournet

    ~Wow, what an impressive list of NHL'ers~

    24 guys, one border-line allstar a solid second liner and a handfull of 2nd/3rd liner line guys come out of 24 picks.

    I would not at all be suprised to see one of Plant/Nash turn into a Bernie caliber player, if they do that draft will be a smash success, even if they don't, it's not that bad consider typical success ratios.

  • @ Ogden Brother:

    Thanks. I'm not expecting a superstar just viable assets likely to play over 200 games… and I'm glad the Braintust descided not to think outside the box with the Gagner pick…

    smytty777 wrote:

    It seems very early to decide anything about the 2007 draft.

    It is early and I don't have a crystal ball. I call it a pet theory; but based on current progress, it is a very real possibility that neither Nash nor Plante will play over 100 games in the NHL. Nash seems determined to screw around in the ivy leagues and will likely miss his window (also physically suspect), and Plante doesn't skate well enough to be a top pairing defender in the WESTERN Hockey League as a 19 year old; albeit on a deep team. If you read between the lines, neither guy is progressing well for FIRST round picks… Or we'd all be geeking out about them about right about now.

  • Chris wrote:

    @ Ogden Brother:
    Thanks. I’m not expecting a superstar just viable assets likely to play over 200 games… and I’m glad the Braintust descided not to think outside the box with the Gagner pick…
    smytty777 wrote:
    It seems very early to decide anything about the 2007 draft.
    It is early and I don’t have a crystal ball. I call it a pet theory; but based on current progress, it is a very real possibility that neither Nash nor Plante will play over 100 games in the NHL. Nash seems determined to screw around in the ivy leagues and will likely miss his window (also physically suspect), and Plante doesn’t skate well enough to be a top pairing defender in the WESTERN Hockey League as a 19 year old; albeit on a deep team. If you read between the lines, neither guy is progressing well for FIRST round picks… Or we’d all be geeking out about them about right about now.

    Even looking for viable assets (so take out the one star in Seabrook) theirs still only 5 solid NHL talents their (21%) in Bernie/Higgens/Radulov/Umberger/Kobasew and another 3 bit players 12% in Nilsson/Tannabe/Hossa

    So league wide it looks success ratios in that draft range are:

    4% star
    21% solid NHL'er
    12% bit player

    I'm sure their will be a few more guys that turn into at least consistent 2nd/3rd liners, but it should still give you an idea as to how low the bar really is drafting outside of the lotto.

  • Jason,

    You made an interesting point about Bossy and what his numbers might have looked like had he played longer. With this breakdown and seeing the Russian Rocket in third place ahead of the Great One, I'm inclined to wonder the same thing about Bure.

  • @ Chris:

    And to go one step further from the orginal list of 50 top GPG players:

    30% were top 3 draft picks

    40% were top 5 draft picks

    52% were top 10 draft picks

    64% were top 15 draft picks

    4% were undrafted

    8% went in the second round

    8% went in the 3rd round or later

    Only 12% were taken in the 15 to 30 range which the Oillers typically drafts.

    Oiler 1st round picks in the Lowe era (2001+)

    13/15/22/14/25/25/6/15/21/22

    So one pick in the sweet spot of the top 10 (and I'd bet that pick will be on the top 50 GPG list 6 years from now)

    4 in the 11 – 15 slot (that has produced only 12% of the top 50 GPG players)

    And 5 in the 16 – 30 range which produced another 12% of the top 50 GPG players.

  • I agree with Chris, the drafting hasn't been stellar. Look at what Philly's done in the same time. Lots of later pic's that turned out. When's the last time Detroit Rock City had a 1st round pic?

    That said, nobody batts 1.000%, but man, these guys are at best in the bottom half of the league in that department.

  • Looking at that first list – 3 out of the top 5 have been thrashers! They had Heatley and Kovalchuk from 2001-2004, then Hossa and Kovalchuk from 2005-2008. If the can have 3 out of the top 5 GPG over so many years, how have they fallen so flat during that period?

    You could also say that if they didn't underperform, they wouldn't keep getting those great players. Look at teams like Chicago, Washington and Pittsburgh that have elite young players; they were absolute sewer dwellers for several years in order to get those picks. as fans, could we handle having a last place team for several years, but then enjoy some top-three draft picks? I'm sure not very many fans would have the patience (me included).

  • Gregs,

    You missed my point in the original post. You basically said he was not an elite player and I don't agree. I know he isn't top 10 in the last 6 years collectively, put if we look at his standing in each of those years you can definitely see outstanding results other than one year. Especially for a guy who is still not 25 and plays in Columbus.

    Goals per game ranking:

    2003-2004: 1st
    2005-2006: 9th
    2006-2007: Fell off the map
    2007-2008: 11th
    2008-2009: 9th

    I can't believe you think this guy just doesn't qualify as elite. He is money 35 to 45 goals a year. Not many other players can say that and are around 25 years old.

    Also, I think that GPG does not give a true picture of a players importance, but is more accurate than PPG, which is diluted by a bunch of Tom Gilbert specials (second assists). Guys who score 30+ goals and less than 30 assists are infinitely more valuable than a guy with 15 goals and 45 assists – at least offensively.

  • Also, the breakline between great and elite is pretty subjective. I don't think Nash is a great goal scorer, that belongs to the likes of Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, etc. But he is definitely an elite goal scorer that I would trade anyone on the Oilers for in any sort of package, which I can't imagine will happen, but maybe they can throw a boatload of money at him next summer instead of some 30+ year old.

  • @ Ogden Brother:

    I never said my expectations were reasonable: I EXPECT the Oiler Organization to win another cup! In order to do this; the drafting will have to be exceptional; not average, or slightly above average. Average teams don't accomplish squat, and average management leads to average teams. It was exceptional Oiler drafting during the first three years that lead to a dynasty; and it will take exceptional drafting to get this organization out of the current mess it is in. The Salary Cap does not apply to your management team; so why not headhunt the ABSOLUTE best amateur scouts from accross the league… Prendergast and company have had thier chance.

  • Homie wrote:

    Also, the breakline between great and elite is pretty subjective. I don’t think Nash is a great goal scorer, that belongs to the likes of Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, etc. But he is definitely an elite goal scorer that I would trade anyone on the Oilers for in any sort of package, which I can’t imagine will happen, but maybe they can throw a boatload of money at him next summer instead of some 30+ year old.

    I would say Elite is ranked higher than great. I really think that great gets thrown around way too often. For my money a great player has to be at least a point a game guy, unless he is a D-man.

    The Elite guys are 1.20 PPG. I like Nash and I could put him in the bottom rung of great, but he isn't elite right now and I don't think he will ever be elite.

    He will need to be a 1.20 PPG for the next six years just to become a 1.00 PPG player in his career and I think that will be near impossible.

    I'd take Nash on my team don't get me wrong, but his stats don't measure up to the true elite players. It was a bit surprising that he was that far off to be honest.

    Ender the Dragon wrote:

    Jason,
    You made an interesting point about Bossy and what his numbers might have looked like had he played longer. With this breakdown and seeing the Russian Rocket in third place ahead of the Great One, I’m inclined to wonder the same thing about Bure.

    Bure was unreal as a player, and will be in the Hall of Fame soon. He, like every player, would have seen his GPG diminish a bit in the later years of his career, but if he stayed a bit healthy I bet he would have been at least a 600 goal scorer. He was lightning fast and one of the most exciting players I've ever seen.

  • @ Jason Gregor:
    The Bure knees were almost as tragic as the Lindros Brains, or Forsberg's feet. The fact that some of these guys managed to be so dominant despite their bodies is amazing.

    I dont think Lindros belongs in the same category as the other 2 guys I mentioned, but the "what if" game is fun to play anyway.

  • @ Archaeologuy:

    Consider how many points Lemieux would have gotten if he was healthy. He wouldn't have the assists total, but I'm convinced he would have had over 900 goals. I guess we'll never know.

    And then of course, there's Bobby Orr's knees…

  • Jason Gregor wrote:

    Bure was unreal as a player, and will be in the Hall of Fame soon. He, like every player, would have seen his GPG diminish a bit in the later years of his career, but if he stayed a bit healthy I bet he would have been at least a 600 goal scorer. He was lightning fast and one of the most exciting players I’ve ever seen.

    You got that right…Valeri Bure was an all time great…

  • Jason Gregor wrote:

    I would say Elite is ranked higher than great. I really think that great gets thrown around way too often. For my money a great player has to be at least a point a game guy, unless he is a D-man.
    The Elite guys are 1.20 PPG. I like Nash and I could put him in the bottom rung of great, but he isn’t elite right now and I don’t think he will ever be elite.
    He will need to be a 1.20 PPG for the next six years just to become a 1.00 PPG player in his career and I think that will be near impossible.
    I’d take Nash on my team don’t get me wrong, but his stats don’t measure up to the true elite players. It was a bit surprising that he was that far off to be honest.

    Well, there was the problem. I always thought great was better than elite. No matter.

  • Homie wrote:

    Well, there was the problem. I always thought great was better than elite. No matter.

    Until I started reading this site I though everyone ranked it that way as well.