Who Takes The Fewest Shots On Goal In The NHL?

Pass. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images Content © 2010 Getty Images All rights reserved. via cdn.picapp.com

"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.

    Pass. via farm1.static.flickr.com

  • 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."
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