Predicting Goal Scoring Regression (Part 2)

Hello everybody and welcome in for another article. I’ve been taking some time to put together what I hope you’ll agree is some quality content and information that you likely have not encountered elsewhere. I’m trying to tackle the problem of goal scoring regression and learning what statistics may predict an impending decline in that area. If you want to check out my first article on the topic you can find that here. I began my analysis for this article with a hypothesis that players that do not generate many individual scoring chances for relative to their actual goal scoring output would regress in the following season. I went back five years and compiled the following list of players who scored more than 20 goals while having an iSCF (individual scoring chances for) per goal rate less than 6.00:

2014-2019 Players with >=20 Goals and <6.00 iSCF/Goal

Since the 2014/15 season, 29 players have recorded an iSCF/60 per goals/60 of less than 6.00 while scoring at least 20 goals. (Actually, there were a few more than that, but they didn’t play enough games the following season to provide any meaningful analysis and so I dropped them from the list). On average, those 29 players saw a decrease in goals/60 of -0.38 in the following season, corresponding to an average decrease of 8.93 goals scored. Only two players scored more goals the following season (6.9%), so again we have a stat that seems to predict impending regression. Let’s meet the players who met this criteria in 2019/20:

2019/20 Players with >=20 Goals and <6.00 iSCF/Goal

Zibanejad and Killorn I’ve already discussed previously, so I won’t beat a dead horse there. What I will say is the fact that they show up on both lists bodes even worse for them: eight players since 2014/15 have made both lists in a single year, and their average goal output dropped by 12.8 goals the following season. Eichel and Olofsson are players I’ve discussed at length in previous posts before as well. There are excuses to be made for both players (Eichel is a volume shooter so he may get more of his goals from further out, Olofsson has a world-class shot), but both had high S% marks and already experienced major regression towards the end of the season. My major arguments against the two players outside of this particular stat are as follows: Eichel has no help and generally everyone who puts up a PPG or better has at least one elite-level teammate to play with; Olofsson is hot garbage at 5v5 and outside of an insanely hot start (6 PPG in his first 7 games) was just an average PP triggerman, ending his season with just two points in his last nine games. The decline in PP production is a major problem because Olofsson does not score dirty goals; he only scores when he gets wide open looks to get his (admittedly terrific) shot off. He won’t be taking anyone by surprise next year and if he struggles there is a 9 million dollar man behind him on the depth chart who already has shown great chemistry with Eichel. If Olofsson is not quite as efficient on the powerplay and loses even half of his 5v5 time with Eichel, his value absolutely plummets.

Pageau, Kubalik, Lindholm, and Konecny can be lumped into a similar category here of players who had incredibly efficient scoring seasons that are unlikely to repeat. Pageau is the obvious outlier who is as sure as any to see major regression in the goal scoring department next year. Kubalik shows real talent and could approach 30 goals again, but you’re banking on improved play in his second NHL season to boost these underlying stats and provide a statistical foundation for him to continue at this pace. One really important boost to his stock is his bump up to the PP1 unit with Kane and Toews over Alex DeBrincat in the playoffs, nearly doubling his PP time/game. If he maintains his presence on that unit then he could easily eclipse the impending regression via increased opportunity. Lindholm shot over 17% but it wasn’t outrageously higher than his 2018/19 mark of 14.8% and is likely to be least affected by significant regression. I’ve spoken on Konecny before and while I’m a believer in the talent, the goals are going to dry up some based on this expected regression and Philly doesn’t use wingers at a high enough rate to warrant real top tier production expectations.

Then we have the oddball in Mike Hoffman. Hoffman is a player I compare Olofsson to a lot – a tremendous shooter with an accurate one-timer on the PP who fails to produce at 5v5. However, Hoffman has consistent NHL success with multiple teams which Olofsson obviously does not. I don’t hate Hoffman for fantasy next year but a lot of my projection for him will depend on whether he returns to the Panthers or what team he ends up with in free agency. Players like this are much more dependent on situation and fit than others and should be valued as such.

Last we come to the bona fide studs in Pastrnak and Ovechkin. I feel like everyone knows what Ovechkin is at this point. He’s going to score 45-55 goals. Projecting him beyond that is dicey but below 45 seems unimaginable. So yes, he will likely regress from the 58-goal pace he was on this past season. But a regression from that pace is still going to be a remarkable, top-5 league-wide goal scoring performance. Pastrnak likely falls into a similar place. It’s hard to project any player to score in the upper 50s at the start of a season. But he’s going to be in that 45-55 range even with a little regression and you’re not going to be hurt by him. What’s most remarkable for me seeing these two here is that Auston Matthews is not on this list and scored at essentially the same pace as these two. Matthews posted a 6.60 iSCF/60 per goal, so it’s not like he was particularly close to making this list either. I’m not saying that Matthews will outscore Pastrnak and Ovechkin next season, but if someone offers you good odds against that happening you should probably take it. All that said, those three are my projected top 3 goal scorers for 2020/21 because I don’t see how you can realistically bet against them.

If you’ve enjoyed this content I hope that you’ll take a minute and fill out my five-question survey here as I explore the possibility of doing this full-time. Make sure you follow Apples & Ginos on Twitter for more content and to ask any fantasy hockey questions you may have.

Thanks for reading, you are much appreciated!


Published by Apples & Ginos

Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey Advice

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