So here we are, a tenth of the way into the Vancouver Canucks season and the team is sitting in second place in the Pacific division with a 5-3-0-0 record which you wouldn’t think while reviewing the teams underlying data, which leaves much to be desired. However, what if we mine for some gold in individual player data? Let’s take a look into a portion of the data I’ve been tracking while focusing on the Canucks, 23 year-old winger, Nikolay Goldobin.
I’ll start off taking a look at Primary Shot Contributions. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s simply adding a players individual Corsi-for event (Shot Attempt <– What I call shots) to the players primary shot assist rate. A primary shot assist is any pass leading directly to a shot, the same idea as a key pass in soccer.
For clarity, here’s an example of a primary shot assist from Goldy!
Goldy gains entry into the zone while three seemingly hypnotized defenders gravitate towards him, a quick shoulder check while pivoting to the forehand to make a crisp pass to Ben Hutton who pings one off the bar.
Back to primary shot contributions. To start off we’ll take a look at how many shots Goldobin is taking per hour. At 5v5, he’s taking 13.58 shots per hour which places him second among Canucks forwards who have played a minimum of 50 minutes this year, trailing only Elias Pettersson. This mark is about where I’d expect the natural play-maker to be, hovering around the top 100 players in the league.
Side note, I checked out his Individual High Danger Corsi For and he’s currently sitting at 34th in the league which simply means he’s consistently taking shots from scoring areas.
It’s when we start looking at his puck distribution skills, this is what sets him apart from other players on the team and what could make him a special player in this league.
For context, I’ll show you a chart from last seasons primary shot contribution leaders on the Canucks,
I should note that Henrik Sedin led the team with 15.92 primary shot assists/60. As you can see, setting up his teammates is nothing new to Goldobin as he trailed only the teams best set-up man in franchise history last year in terms of primary shot assists. There’s no doubt about it, Goldobin is a gifted distributor which you wouldn’t think if you were to judge him off last years counting stats of eight goals and six assists in 38 games.
Now let’s take a look at the how many primary shot assists Goldobin is creating this year,
Holy guacamole, he’s leading the team by a mile and well ahead of Henrik’s team leading rate from last season. But how does this level of play-making compare to other elite shot generators around the league? For those numbers, I consulted with the OG of manual hockey tracking, Corey Sznajder (@ShutDownLine), and creator or visuals, CJ Turtoro (@CJTDevil), both must follows on twitter if you’re interested in micro-stats!
Before we review the comparables, keep in mind the small sample size of Goldobin as he’s only played eight games this year. I promise you, Goldy’s shot assists numbers will regress towards the mean as the season goes along.
No, he’s not going to put up numbers like these guys. The purpose of the comparison is to show that we’re currently witnessing a special stretch of hockey from the young Russian winger despite what his counting stats of one goal and two assists display. He’s jumped out of the gate quickly and when he falls back to earth and lands somewhere in the middle of his rate of 13.39 last year and 19.01 this year, the counting stats will be there. At the very least, it’s highly probable they will be as these statistics are predictive of production. No matter how you view it, it’s incredibly encouraging to see the offensively gifted winger operate at a league leading shot generating pace.
When we meet in the middle of Goldobin’s primary shot assist rates over the last two seasons, we land on 16.20 which still has him grouped with guys like Ryan Johansen, David Krejci, and Jonathan Toews. An established trio of consistent point producers, all of whom put up at least 27 assists last year which is think is at the low end of a realistic target for Goldy this year.
Currently, Goldobin is a snake-bitten play-maker who’d be racking up assists if it wasn’t for the team shooting a measly 3% following his golden dishes. No, I’m not blaming the shooters, I’m simply stating that Goldobin has been on the wrong side of some puck luck early on. It’s not as if he’s not setting up the right players, of his 28 primary shot assists, he’s set up Boeser six times, and Pettersson four, with EP40 scoring the only goal this season directly after a Goldobin distribution.
Now that we’ve reviewed the numbers, let’s take a look at a handful of plays Goldobin has created,
Goldy to Boeser from behind the net to the slot on the verge of a royal-road shot assist, as close to a 2017-18 Boeser auto goal as you can get!
Wait, maybe this one is closer to the Boeser glitch goal of last year.
Loui has all day from in a prime scoring area following a Goldobin entry+pass but he smokes James Reimer in the mask.
Troy from Richmond gets some gold in Pittsburgh but can’t put it home.
Some relentless work in the corner, generating shots with the 255 pound Jamie Oleksiak all over him.
Was Edler going to score here? Highly unlikely, but his dang stick breaks, symbolic of the luck Goldy’s had this year.
In conclusion, it appears that the soon to be restricted free agent, Goldobin is part of the solution in Vancouver. Is he good enough to drive a top-six line in the NHL on a consistent basis? Perhaps not. Is he showing that he’s capable of being a creative complimentary offensive winger who can be a regular on the power-play? He is. It’ll be interesting when the time comes for the organization to negotiate a contract with Goldobin and if he needs the shot assist numbers, I’ll be here for him! One thing’s for sure, the price of Gold is going up in Vancouver!