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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin - USA TODAY Sports

The Price of Gold

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!

    • Goal-dobin and Petterssen seem like a real nice pairing. I really like what Travis Green has done with Nicolay. He brought him along slowly, sheltered his minutes until he was more defensively responsible. Now he is ready and deserving to be playing in the top 6. His skill and speed were never in question. Very well done.

    • And he is equally useful on EP40’s line, especially if the add another shooter on that line (and it aint Eriksson). But a speedy winger like Virtanen? That could work.

      Either way, Goldy is Gold.

  • Goldy has been great this year. He’s been doing well on the Defensive side of his game and we all know his Offence is there, as said in the article his Golden dishes are just shooting low %.. having him, Sven, and Jake bounce in and out of the top two lines is great. Liking Goldy so far and so is TG

    • This is what I have been most impressed with, his D game and back checking has really picked up playing with EP. We need to sign this kid now before he blows up, I’m sold on him as a top 6er.

  • Excellent article Darryl! I’ve been fascinated by Goldy’s play so far this season. Especially his setup passes. The puck is off his stick before the opponent even thinks he’ll pass. He seems skilled at generating a noticeable ‘reaction gap’ from his coverage after his release that gives extra time to the shooter. If Green continues his smart deployment of Goldy all year, especially playing with EP as his centre, I think #77 will make a significant team contribution and remove the ‘prospect’ tag to become a regular NHL player with a the contract to show for it.

  • The way this guy’s passes always seem to arrive on his teammates’ sticks with laser precision has really impressed me. We know he’s pretty slick with the puck on his stick, but as you say, his playmaking ability is grossly underrated. Only a matter of time before the points start to come, a guy can’t set up that many amazing chances again and again without some of them starting to go in more regularly.

  • Good article. Confirms the eye test over the season so far. Goldy’s distributing the puck very well. Once his teammates start to finish, the points will come.

  • And to think we gave up Jannick Hansen (now 32 y.o. and playing in Russia) to get Nickolay Goldobin who just turned 23 and looks like he’s going to be a winner with this club. This is one transaction it seems Mr. Benning got right. All the Canucks need now is the Burrows for Dahlen trade to blossom into something in the reasonably near future keeping on track with the club’s move to youth and speed.

    • Yah, he sure got burned with the Vey trade where the 2nd has become nothing; trading Forsling who is nothing; getting Sven for a 2nd that’s turned into nothing; giving up that extra pick up to get Prust for a kid who has done nothing. Benning is doing fine with the trades. Its not as if he traded Hall, Eberle, Matt Barzal for nothing…

      • Sure, those picks became “nothing” but when you hire a guy based on his apparent aptitude for amateur scouting, should not the logic be that he will do more with those selections than his counterparts? We can’t both praise Benning for his drafting and not lament that he hasn’t done it more. Also, Forsling isn’t nothing, he is recovering from a serious injury but will probably be on the hawks NHL roster once he does.

        • If the goal at the time of his hiring was to rebuild for the future, then yes, it would have been better to keep those picks and draft. But his marching orders at the time were to rebuild on the fly to support the twins for one last kick at the playoffs. There was an entire 10 year age cohort missing from the pipeline, and the only way to fill in the gap with useful NHL players was to use draft picks and whatever prospects they had in the system as incentive to get deals done. He took the empty cupboards that Gilles left behind emptied them even further all in the name of chasing the playoffs. Whether you agree with the direction the team took in the first two Benning years (I sure didn’t) matters not, that was the reality of it and JB did the best he could given the situation he was hired into and the plan he was told to execute.

          He’s not perfect, no GM is.You win some trades, you lose some trades. Benning is about 50/50 and when you look around the league 50/50 isn’t so bad.

  • If I was setting the lines (when fully healthy) it would be:

    Goldy Pettersson Boeser
    Baer Horvat Virtanen
    Roussel Sutter Eriksson
    Schaller Beagle Motte/Granlund

    Bo is amazing but he is a north-south player. Boeser and Pettersson are the offensive future of this team – Goldy is creative enough to pair with both.

    With that being said, Boeser and Pettersson on different lines distributes offense so there is merit to it.

  • To appreciate what a player is within the league I often wonder how would they look on another team. You look at his play and think he has skill and composure but unfortunately for Goldy the points are just not there. On other teams maybe less desperate for offense I’m thinking he wouldn’t be playing as much. What did you do on your last shift is a harsh reality in the NHL. He has “try and skill” just no finish, would that be enough on another more competitive team … sorry to say I don’t think it would