"You must shoot if you want to score."
--Pekka Virta, Head Coach KalPa
I've spent a couple of posts on the players that take the least amount of shots on goal and in doing so discovered that Jason Strudwick's 2009-2010 performance was record-breaking, though not necessarily in a good way. The subject of forwards came up in the comments of the latter of the two posts, so I ran the numbers. Limiting the results to forwards only led me to the discovery that both 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 were also record-breaking for another player in the Northwest Division. Sorry Kent, it wasn't Derek Boogaard.
The NHL began recording time on ice stats in 1998, so we have eleven seasons of data to work with. Listed below are the twenty-five worst shots on goal seasons by forwards only since 1998, ordered by shots per sixty minutes of time on ice. I've ignored "goons" by using a minimum standard of 600 minutes of time on ice, equivalent to sixty games and ten minutes of time on ice per game. Using only sixty games as I did with defensemen didn't pick up a number of the third and fourth liners on the list, so I used a time on ice minimum instead. Like the list of overall worst seasons, the shots per sixty minutes tells a story, a story that we'll call the "Ballad Of Ryan Johnson". Ryan Johnson has the record for the lowest amount of shots on goal per minute, but as far as a career goes, Johnson is going to need some additional terrible seasons to threaten Kelly Buchberger.
|Ryan Johnson||Vancouver Canucks||2009||58||19||615||0.463||1.852|
|Ryan Johnson||Vancouver Canucks||2008||62||22||683||0.483||1.933|
|Adam Oates||Edmonton Oilers||2003||60||32||870||0.552||2.207|
|Kelly Buchberger||Phoenix Coyotes||2002||79||32||788||0.609||2.437|
|Adam Oates||Washington Capitals||2000||81||72||1701||0.635||2.540|
|Eric Messier||Colorado Avalanche||1999||61||28||637||0.659||2.637|
|Mike Keane||Colorado Avalanche||2002||65||35||796||0.660||2.638|
|Kelly Buchberger||Pittsburgh Penguins||2003||71||34||735||0.694||2.776|
|Mike Eastwood||Chicago Blackhawks||2002||53||32||684||0.702||2.807|
|Mike Eastwood||St. Louis Blues||2000||77||51||1089||0.702||2.810|
|Mike Ricci||San Jose Sharks||2003||71||48||1019||0.707||2.826|
|Kelly Buchberger||Edmonton Oilers||1998||52||29||614||0.708||2.834|
|Mike Eastwood||Pittsburgh Penguins||2003||82||55||1160||0.711||2.845|
|Jeff Giuliano||Los Angeles Kings||2007||53||30||627||0.718||2.871|
|Igor Larionov||Detroit Red Wings||2000||39||31||647||0.719||2.875|
|Igor Larionov||Detroit Red Wings||2002||74||50||1030||0.728||2.913|
|Dan Kesa||Pittsburgh Penguins||1998||67||33||678||0.730||2.920|
|Igor Korolev||Chicago Blackhawks||2002||48||32||655||0.733||2.931|
|Shaun Van Allen||Ottawa Senators||2003||73||41||839||0.733||2.932|
|Igor Larionov||Detroit Red Wings||2001||70||50||1012||0.741||2.964|
|Mike Ricci||Phoenix Coyotes||2005||78||50||998||0.752||3.006|
|Kelly Buchberger||Atlanta Thrashers||1999||68||56||1112||0.755||3.022|
|Adam Oates||Washington Capitals||1999||82||93||1832||0.761||3.046|
|Kelly Buchberger||Los Angeles Kings||2001||74||39||765||0.765||3.059|
|Dan Bylsma||Mighty Ducks of Anaheim||2000||82||50||963||0.779||3.115|
Don Cherry defended Johnson from the evils of those dumb dumb Corsi adherents, and we'll certainly be mindful of Johnson's zonestart when thinking this through, but Ryan Johnson has the two worst shots on goal seasons by a forward since 1998. He's the only regular, non-goon forward in the league to not average two shots per sixty minutes of time on ice since 1998, and he's done it twice.
- 13 players make up the 25 worst-shooting seasons in the league, six appear multiple times.
- Kelly Buchberger is on the list five times with five different teams! No one ever accused Kelly of being a system player.
- Igor Larionov was at the end of his career during the seasons he appeared on this list and was a Red Wing mostly for leadership and defense. But his 2001 and 2002 seasons are remarkable in that he broke double-digits in goals in both seasons while taking only 50 shots each time. Shooting 22% and 20% helps hide how few shots you're generating.
- At the end of his career, Adam Oates was known primarily as a passer, and in 1999 and 2000, he tallied 71 and 82 points. Over those two seasons, he scored 28 goals while shooting 17%.
- The rest of the players on the list are checkers in the same vein as Johnson and Buchberger, and guys like Ricci and Eastwood would have likely had similar zonestarts to Johnson.
- Of the 13 players on the list, four are still active, but only one is in the NHL. Jeff Giuliano is playing in Germany, Mike Keane is in the AHL, Igor Korolev is in the KHL and Ryan Johnson is in Vancouver.
- Of the remaining nine players, six of them went into coaching or hockey operations of some sort, which proves the old adage, "...those who cannot shoot, teach."