This is going to be the hockey statistical equivalent of calling the pocket after I’ve sunk the 8-ball, but not having been in Toronto for the last month, I didn’t quite get that Nazem Kadri’s point production was actually a major storyline.
If I’ve got this right, through the first 11 games of Kadri’s season, he had only managed one goal and seven points. That was before this weekend’s games, where he put up a goal and six assists in three weekend games against Hamilton twice and Abbotsford.
Even worse, stripping all the games before November 10, Kadri had just three assists in nine games. Not the stuff of “former first round pick” material, but I looked into it a little bit further today.
First, the real good news. Here is a list of Toronto Marlies forwards by shots taken at the net, including their shooting percentages:
I don’t like using goal and point statistics when there’s nothing around for context, but shot numbers give us a fair indicator of whether a not a player has been performing and just not getting the results. In the notes I’ve taken during the two games I’ve watched on TV, I may as well have circled #13 with little hearts. He was creating opportunities, driving play, and getting chances—pucks just weren’t going in for him. In both games (details here and here), he led the Leafs in total contributions on scoring chances, taking seven for himself and setting up two.
Kadri’s been getting good shots: More than any Toronto forward. He’s just not been getting goals. His line mates have been getting shots. I looked through box scores of every game the Marlies played and using +/- numbers are line mate estimators.
The counting isn’t exact because the AHL doesn’t have on-ice numbers, but I have the Marlies scoring six goals on 15 shots with Nazem Kadri on the ice over the past weekend. That bumped up Kadri’s and his linemates’ shooting percentage to 15.2% after a slow start (just 4.2%, unsustainably low) that resulted in a scratch against the Iowa Stars.
I made a handy chart, as I’m wont to do:
The 15% number is more sustainable. That’s about the combined shooting rate of Marlies forwards to this point. In practice, teams don’t score on 15% of their opportunities (more like 10%) but a good chunk of that is because defencemen take a lot of shots and don’t get a lot of goals—they shoot from much further away. Last season Marlies forwards shot at 12% and their defencemen struck at 3%.
Presumably, Kadri’s been getting more assists than deserved lately, but it won’t be long until pucks start going in for him. He’s shot around 13% at the pro level and is at just half of that this year:
I would expect him to trend closer to his 2011-2012 rate. The hope though is that we won’t make it that far into the AHL season before Kadri is called up to play for the Leafs. Settle down, he’s got this.