As I was reviewing the Edmonton Oilers' year-end stats, something struck me -- Jason Strudwick's lack of shots on goal. 19 shots on goal in 72 games seemed to be extremely low, so I went back and reviewed a post I made earlier in the season. In December I looked at the players with the fewest shots on goal in a single season since the NHL began keeping shots on goal statistics. Hired knuckles made up the entire list.
This time around, I dove a bit deeper to find out exactly where Strudwick ranked all-time. I limited the qualifying seasons to 60 games played as that seemed to me to be the best approximation of a regular player. Famous enforcers Stu Grimson, Dave Brown, Eric Godard and Dan Kordic appear multiple times. The top 25 is made up of 22 goon seasons and 3 roster regulars.
It makes sense that fighters would dominate the list. They aren't on a roster to actually play the game, so shooting is likely not a priority. If hard-pressed, I'm sure I could work out some twisted logic whereby it made sense to keep someone on the roster that cannot shoot the puck, and somehow justify the existence of the goon. However, I'm much harder pressed to find a reason to keep a player on an NHL roster that appears multiple times on this list and doesn't have a high number of penalty minutes or is renown for being some sort of all-time defensive specialist. In fact, the only player fitting the description of defensive specialist that appears twice in the top 100 seasons is Lew Morrison, an ace penalty killer and outstanding defensive forward that was victimized by the expansion draft not once, but twice, by the Atlanta Flames and Washington Capitals and ended his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jason Strudwick appears four times in the top 100.
The chart below is sorted by shots per game. Ten years ago Strudwick posted what was then the 20th-worst season in shots per game for the Vancouver Canucks when he was able to get off only 18 shots in 63 games. He posted the lowest penalty minutes of anyone on the then top 25. His futility in 1999 has since been outdone a number of times and that season now ranks 28th all time. His low-water penalty minute mark has since been tied by Jassen Cullimore. This season, Strudwick bested (worsted?) his previous mark. His 2009-2010 season comes in 19th-worst all time and once again, Strudwick has established a new low in penalty minutes with 50.
|Stu Grimson||1998||Mighty Ducks of Anaheim||73||10||0.137||158|
|Jim McKenzie||2003||Nashville Predators||61||10||0.164||88|
|Dave Semenko||1987||Toronto Maple Leafs||70||12||0.171||107|
|Stu Grimson||1992||Chicago Blackhawks||78||14||0.179||193|
|Eric Godard||2007||Calgary Flames||74||14||0.189||171|
|Dan Kordic||1997||Philadelphia Flyers||61||12||0.197||210|
|Stu Grimson||1997||Carolina Hurricanes||82||17||0.207||204|
|Darren Langdon||1997||New York Rangers||70||15||0.214||197|
|Ken Baumgartner||1998||Boston Bruins||69||15||0.217||119|
|Dave Brown||1993||Philadelphia Flyers||71||16||0.225||137|
|Stu Grimson||1996||Hartford Whalers||75||17||0.227||218|
|Derek Boogaard||2005||Minnesota Wild||65||15||0.231||158|
|Riley Cote||2007||Philadelphia Flyers||70||17||0.243||202|
|Wade Belak||2006||Toronto Maple Leafs||65||16||0.246||110|
|Rob Ray||1999||Buffalo Sabres||69||17||0.246||158|
|Jassen Cullimore||2006||Chicago Blackhawks||65||17||0.262||64|
|Darin Kimble||1993||Chicago Blackhawks||65||17||0.262||133|
|Tyler Wright||1998||Pittsburgh Penguins||61||16||0.262||90|
|Jason Strudwick||2009||Edmonton Oilers||72||19||0.264||50|
|Dave Brown||1992||Philadelphia Flyers||70||19||0.271||78|
|Matt Johnson||1997||Los Angeles Kings||66||18||0.273||249|
|Dan Kordic||1996||Philadelphia Flyers||75||21||0.280||210|
|Ron Delorme||1983||Vancouver Canucks||64||18||0.281||68|
|Eric Godard||2008||Pittsburgh Penguins||71||20||0.282||171|
|Tony Twist||1997||St. Louis Blues||60||17||0.283||105|
Fun Fact: Strudwick's .383 shots per game career average would be the 83rd lowest single season since the NHL began recording shots data. He appears six times in the worst 175 qualifying seasons of lowest shots ratio.
Fun Fact II: 4 of the worst 200 seasons won a Stanley Cup, or 2%: Gordie Roberts in 1990-1991 and 1991-1992 with the Penguins, Glen Wesley in 2005-2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes and Joe DiPenta in 2006-2007 with the Anaheim Ducks. Since shots data has been kept, 3% of seasons have won a cup.
Fun Fact III: Lew Morrison recorded only 107 penalty minutes in 564 career games. However, 70 of those penalty minutes came in 202 games with the Flyers. The other 37 were stretched out over 362 games with other teams. Morrison cut his penalty minutes rate by 2/3 after leaving the Flyers.
Fun Fact IV: The Pittsburgh Penguins lead the way with 24 entrants in the top 200.
I should note that if the games played minimum in the qualifying seasons is dropped to 50, three amazing seasons head up the list. Jim Kyte's 7 shots on goal for the Winnipeg Jets in 1983-1984 and Darren Langdon's 6 shots on goal for the Carolina Hurricanes in 2000-2001 may seem impressive, but they can't touch the leader. The king of shooting futility is...Barry Fraser first round pick Francois Leroux who played 59 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1996-1997 and managed only 5 shots on goal. Nice work Barry.