NHL Analytics: Early Season Watch List

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·10 min read
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There’s more to regular season production than just 5v5 play.

Power play time is limited, however, and normally reserved for specific players and when it comes to having them on your fantasy team, you’re not alone. Everyone loads up on power play performers, in all kinds of different formats and even daily wagering would increase the odds of goals and points with a little 5v4 time.

Still, players make their bones at even strength and it’s important to be productive in the game situation where players receive the most ice time.

With the caveat that it’s still way too early in the 2021-22 season, there are some notable players that are performing at different levels. We are going to look at 16 of them in today’s writeup. Arbitrary number, sure, but just whittling it down to a respectable level – that doesn’t hamper the visualizations – was difficult enough.

Data used here is compiled from Natural Stat Trick, with a cutoff of games played until Monday October 25, 2021, and specially picked through the players ranks at 5v5 play. The data set in its entirety will be presented in tables and a chart accompanying for context.

Let’s set up the dataset.

Here are the players and their 5v5 production to date. We could probably do separate posts on just the Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens for opposite reasons, but there are some prominent player names on this list.

Player

Team

Pos

GP

TOI

G

A

1A

2A

Pts

IPP

Shots

SH%

ixG

iSCF

iHDCF

Drake Batherson

OTT

R

6

95.30

4

1

0

1

5

100

15

26.67

1.19

16

7

Lucas Raymond

DET

L

6

68.25

3

2

0

2

5

71.43

12

25

0.78

8

2

Vladimir Tarasenko

STL

R

5

62.33

3

1

0

1

4

80

19

15.79

1.69

18

5

Carter Verhaeghe

FLA

C

6

75.52

2

2

2

0

4

100

6

33.33

0.67

9

4

Sam Bennett

FLA

C

6

62.92

3

1

1

0

4

57.14

14

21.43

0.93

13

6

Jonathan Dahlen

S.J

C

5

53.95

3

1

0

1

4

57.14

7

42.86

0.98

10

7

Anthony Mantha

WSH

R

6

68.25

2

1

1

0

3

42.86

10

20

0.86

8

4

Sam Reinhart

FLA

C

6

74.25

1

1

1

0

2

50

13

7.69

0.67

10

1

Josh Norris

OTT

C

6

90.83

1

1

1

0

2

40

12

8.33

1.42

13

10

Anders Lee

NYI

L

5

67.03

1

0

0

0

1

20

8

12.5

1.04

9

7

Sean Couturier

PHI

C

4

57.90

0

1

1

0

1

33.33

6

0

0.65

7

4

Mitch Marner

TOR

R

7

107.03

0

1

0

1

1

inf

10

0

1.31

16

6

Nolan Patrick

VGK

C

4

50.23

1

0

0

0

1

50

8

12.5

0.64

8

5

Cole Caufield

MTL

R

6

68.40

0

1

0

1

1

100

11

0

0.48

10

0

Brendan Gallagher

MTL

R

6

67.98

0

0

0

0

0

0

13

0

0.89

14

6

Nikolaj Ehlers

WPG

L

5

69.83

0

0

0

0

0

0

15

0

1.25

18

5

The sort order lists Drake Batherson of the Senators at the top, who scored a beautiful marker against the Capitals on Monday night.

People aren’t talking enough about this absolute BEAUTY from Drake Batherson last night 👀

🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/oA2RppkxAQ

— Locked On Senators (@SensCentral) October 26, 2021

Batherson has points on every goal scored at 5v5, indicated in his 100% IPP (individual point percentage), but be mindful of the 26.67% individual shooting percentage. Don’t stray too far from Josh Norris either, the young Senators pivot has a solid skill set – and has a point on only 40% of the on-ice goals scored so far this season.

Lucas Raymond sits tied at the top of this list, and should already be a known commodity if there’s any familiarity with prospects, but if his hat trick effort on Sunday against the Blackhawks didn’t hit your radar, consider this the glowing endorsement.

Vladimir Tarasenko was likely left off a lot of fantasy radars due to the trade request and continued injury trouble, but he’s proving there’s still a lot of game left in that body. Don’t believe me? Look at the skilled play on this goal, from the Mohawk skating zone entry to superior finish.

Stop what you're doing and watch this Vladimir Tarasenko (@tara9191) goal... NOW. pic.twitter.com/gvFMxfxeAS

— NHL (@NHL) October 26, 2021

Carter Verhaeghe continues his stellar play in Panther’s silks, with Sam Bennett picking up from his late Panthers audition after a tumultuous time in Calgary. The addition of Sam Reinhart makes the Panthers potent up front – and we didn’t even touch upon their real stars, Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau.

Some of the struggling players, like Cole Caufield – who I felt was very opportunistic in the playoffs, excelling in the Montreal Canadiens transition game, offering quick strike ability – hasn’t been able to duplicate the play or the postseason production early on in 2021-22. It’s only a matter of time before he starts picking up the scoring pace – as long as the Canadiens can get their overall act together – however, 11 shots on goal in six games isn’t likely going to cut it to get superior production. Teammate Brendan Gallagher hasn’t recorded a 5v5 point yet this season on 13 shots on goal – a lot from in close quarters.

Entering play on Tuesday night, Nikolaj Ehlers was pointless in five games with 15 shots on goal, but his shooting metrics are solid. It’s a matter of time before the puck starts to go in for him. (Note, he scored twice and added a helper against the Ducks Tuesday night – just to spite me including him in this writeup when he was pointless).

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Mitch Marner has been maligned early in the season, along with some other Leafs struggling, and he deserves an extra deep dive to determine what the issues are, but I offer this as a starting point. He’s not driving the zone with the puck on his blade and not playmaking as he has in the past. There’s a moment where all of this will click as long as he continues to get chances generated by the Leafs. Playing a depleted (and off-ice drenched issues) Chicago may be the tonic required here.

Individual shooting metrics from the above table are presented below in the bubble chart, highlighting high danger scoring chances and scoring chances. The bubble size represents the individual expected goals.

5v5 Individual scoring and high danger scoring chances
5v5 Individual scoring and high danger scoring chances

The statistics above are counting stats and while they may work for that part of the analysis, to normalize effect over a set of players, using per-60 stats are more appropriate.

The table below presents the same players individual shot, scoring chances and expected goals per 60 minutes played. Technically we aren’t really comparing the players here to each other, just noting their production at this point can change based on their current metrics.

For instance, San Jose’s Jonathan Dahlen, leads this group with 7.78 high dangers scoring chances per 60 – leading to a 43% shooting percentage, despite only getting a point on 57% of on-ice goals scored (from the table above).

Player

Shots/60

SH%

ixG/60

iCF/60

iFF/60

iSCF/60

iHDCF/60

Drake Batherson

9.44

26.67

0.75

15.74

13.22

10.07

4.41

Lucas Raymond

10.55

25

0.69

12.31

10.55

7.03

1.76

Vladimir Tarasenko

18.29

15.79

1.63

28.88

22.14

17.33

4.81

Carter Verhaeghe

4.77

33.33

0.53

12.71

9.53

7.15

3.18

Sam Bennett

13.35

21.43

0.89

18.12

15.26

12.4

5.72

Jonathan Dahlen

7.78

42.86

1.09

12.23

8.9

11.12

7.78

Anthony Mantha

8.79

20

0.75

12.31

9.67

7.03

3.52

Sam Reinhart

10.51

7.69

0.54

16.16

12.93

8.08

0.81

Josh Norris

7.93

8.33

0.94

12.55

10.57

8.59

6.61

Anders Lee

7.16

12.5

0.93

16.11

11.64

8.06

6.27

Sean Couturier

6.22

0

0.68

11.4

7.25

7.25

4.15

Mitch Marner

5.61

0

0.73

12.33

9.53

8.97

3.36

Nolan Patrick

9.56

12.5

0.76

15.53

11.94

9.56

5.97

Cole Caufield

9.65

0

0.42

15.79

10.53

8.77

0

Brendan Gallagher

11.47

0

0.79

18.53

14.12

12.36

5.3

Nikolaj Ehlers

12.89

0

1.07

24.92

17.18

15.47

4.3

Look at the 1.63 expected goals per 60 for the Blues Tarasenko, leading all skaters here. Of note as well is the amount of scoring chances per 60, and how close they track to the high danger chances per 60. Caufield’s zero HD chances are a concern for the Habs.

The chart below is the visual representation. The ideal spot is a big bubble, placed to the top right corner of the chart as possible.

5v5 Individual scoring and high danger scoring chances per 60 minutes
5v5 Individual scoring and high danger scoring chances per 60 minutes

Individually, players will have specific production in respect to their expected goals. The table below shows the on-ice per 60 rates for expected and actual goals scored (observed), as well scoring chances, and chances by danger zone, high, medium and low danger. When used in conjunction with the individual metrics from the previous table, we get a clearer picture of whether the struggles are more wide spread, or concentrated on the player’s individual play.

Player

GF/60

xGF/60

SCF/60

HDCF/60

MDCF/60

LDCF/60

Drake Batherson

3.15

2.86

35.89

16.37

26.02

33.65

Lucas Raymond

6.15

3.76

33.41

14.07

25.79

31.75

Vladimir Tarasenko

4.81

3.36

38.5

12.51

34.65

33.37

Carter Verhaeghe

3.18

2.4

28.6

10.33

24.37

45.91

Sam Bennett

6.68

2.86

33.38

12.4

27.97

41.32

Jonathan Dahlen

7.78

3.06

32.25

20.02

16.31

36.95

Anthony Mantha

6.15

1.97

27.25

8.79

24.62

26.67

Sam Reinhart

3.23

2.16

32.32

6.46

34.48

46.69

Josh Norris

3.3

2.41

30.39

13.87

22.02

32.44

Anders Lee

4.48

3.05

28.64

16.11

16.71

45.25

Sean Couturier

3.11

2.11

22.8

6.22

22.11

46.4

Mitch Marner

0

2.84

39.8

14.01

34.38

34.82

Nolan Patrick

2.39

3.06

28.67

15.53

17.52

41.41

Cole Caufield

0.88

1.88

28.95

8.77

26.9

35.48

Brendan Gallagher

0.88

2.01

31.77

11.47

27.07

42.07

Nikolaj Ehlers

2.58

2.3

35.23

9.45

34.37

35.99

The visual representation shown below focuses on the goals and expected goals per 60, with the bubble size representing the high danger scoring chances per 60.

5v5 goals and expected goals per 60 minutes
5v5 goals and expected goals per 60 minutes

Ideal placement on this chart is at the furthest right in the top corner. The Sharks, Dahlen, Raymond, Sam Bennett and Anthony Mantha are getting a lot of goals per 60 minutes, but overachieving in relation to expected goals.

The entire exercise here is meant to show some of the player’s production early on, as well as how to use individual and on-ice metrics to let the data tell a better story and to help you make better decisions. Using this exercise with other players of interest would assist your decisions making ability in every format.