Regression Is Coming

Mark Barbour (@18sktrs,

In this article I’m going to talk about skaters who scored either too many or too few goals during the last 20 team games. WARNING: I’ve got bad news about one of your favourite skaters (probably). I also have some good news. Let’s get into it.

Regression – What Are We Talking About Here?

I want to be clear about what I mean by “regression” in this article. I’m using that term to refer to the output of a linear regression model, and the “predicted” goals mentioned here were predicted by that model.

With that out of the way, let’s look at some candidates for “positive” and “negative” regression. Note that only skaters who play at the forward positions are included in this analysis.

Biggest Over/Under Goal Scorers

The plot below is based on the difference between a skater’s actual goals and his predicted goals over the last 20 team games. The line represents the density of skaters at each point between -4 goals under predicted to +4 goals over predicted. Most skaters are clustered around 0.0 which means their actual goals are close to their predicted goals.

I highlighted 5 skaters at each end of the distribution. The skaters on the left scored fewer goals than predicted and the skaters on the right scored more goals than predicted.

Let’s start with the skaters who have scored too many goals and therefore could see some “negative regression”.

  • Adrian Kempe has been running very hot lately. He scored 15 goals in his last 20 games, and 9 goals in his last 10 games. During that same time period Kempe also collected more assists than usual (while his primary assist rate actually decreased). Kempe’s on-ice shooting percentage over the last 20 games was 16%, which is likely to come down. He was a top skater in fantasy over the last month but you might want to consider trading him now if you can get a good return. I’m not suggesting that you give him away though. His predicted goals during the last 20 team games is still among the best in the NHL.
  • I find Leon Draisaitl to be one of the most interesting skaters in fantasy hockey. There are people who insist that Draisaitl is the second best skater to have on your team. I’m not one of them (and I say that as a fan of the Edmonton Oilers). Draisaitl is a bit of a power play specialist and has been trending even further in that direction this season. That makes me nervous about his ability to sustain his scoring rates in the future. Here’s a deal I would be happy to make in most fantasy hockey formats: trade Leon Draisaitl in exchange for Nathan MacKinnon. Draisaitl is second in NHL scoring at the moment, and he should have more (total) fantasy points than MacKinnon. I suggest swapping him for MacKinnon to finish the season. The Avalanche have a great playoff schedule and that gives MacKinnon a little extra value in this trade.
  • I don’t really have much to say about Mika Zibanejad. Maybe he scored a few too many goals recently but his assists were also a little down. Carry on.
  • Andrei Kuzmenko has played 56 NHL games so we don’t have much to work with here. Having said that, I strongly doubt he maintains his 25.5% shooting percentage over the rest of his career. Sell him if you can find an eager buyer.
  • I wrote about Tim Stützle at the end of December, identifying him as a potential Breakout Goal Scorer who was slumping. Well, things have now swung to the opposite extreme and Stützle is probably scoring too much, with 14 goals in his last 20 games. My advice is still the same though: get Stützle on your team if you can, especially in a keeper/dynasty league. Maybe you can find someone looking to “sell high” on him without realizing that Stützle is now one of the best skaters in fantasy hockey.

Now on to the “positive regression”!

  • We’ve been here before with Andrei Svechnikov and there isn’t a whole lot more to say. He scored two goals last night so perhaps the dam has burst. We’ll see.
  • I was surprised to see Matthew Tkachuk here. He’s been incredible this season and should be one of the best skaters in most fantasy hockey formats. Buy the dip? I can’t see too many people willing to trade Matthew Tkachuk at a discount at this time.
  • Matt Boldy appeared in last week’s article about Early 2023 Expected Goals Leaders so it’s not too surprising to see him here. My advice is the same this week: now is probably a good time to acquire Boldy at a discount.
  • I’m guessing that most people haven’t noticed that Michael Eyssimont is a player in the NHL, but when you look at his shooting data since the start of 2023 he’s been excellent. He’s another skater who appeared in last week’s article. In that article I said it will be interesting to see what happens to Eyssimont when Timo Meier is traded by the Sharks. It turns out that Meier missed the last Sharks game and that gave us a glimpse at what the future might hold. So what did Eyssimont do in that game? He set a career high for time-on-ice (18:16). He fired 6 shots on net. He scored a goal. Check, check, check. I don’t know where Eyssimont is going from here but he has my attention. If you’re in a deep league with a shallow pool of free agents you should think about holding him on your roster (bonus: in leagues with minors eligibility you might not need to hold him on your “Pro” roster, potentially making him even more valuable). In a typical redraft league keep him in mind when looking for a streamer.
  • Pierre-Luc Dubois is our last skater who could be due for some “positive regression”. The Jets don’t have a great playoff schedule so I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy low in this case.

The End Of The Article

That’s all for this week. I’ll be back here next week with another original data-driven article. In the meantime you can find my daily posts on Follow me on Twitter at @18sktrs if you want to be notified about the content I’m creating here, there, and anywhere.


Mark (18 Skaters)

The Data

The data for this article were pulled from Natural Stat Trick and include games played on or before 2023-02-21.

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