The Numbers Behind Elias Pettersson’s Scorching Shot

The Numbers Behind Elias Pettersson’s Scorching Shot

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you’ve heard of Elias Pettersson. The rookie sensation is lighting up the scoreboard for the Canucks, with 10 goals and 16 points in his first 10 NHL games. He’s the early Calder favorite and a breath of fresh air in Vancouver as it transitions from the Sedin era.

Obviously, Pettersson’s scoring pace isn’t sustainable. There is a 99.9% chance he won’t continue to score at a goal-per-game pace on a blistering 35.7 shooting percentage. So, what should be expected going forward? Looking at some key performance indicators helps us paint a picture of his actual offensive impact.

Goals aside, Pettersson’s shooting performance ranks among the league’s best. One of the reasons Pettersson’s shooting percentage is higher than most players is the fact that he so rarely shoots from poor locations. As seen in the graphic above, Pettersson takes a high percentage of his shot attempts from the slot, where league average shooting percentages hover around 17 percent – and we all know Pettersson has a well above average shot. The rookie is also extremely skilled at entering the offensive zone, as evidenced by his season-high 14 controlled zone entries last night¬†against the Red Wings, one of which led directly to his 10th goal of the season.

Only six players have managed 14 controlled entries in a single game this season and the list reads like a who’s who of NHL stars: Connor McDavid, Johnny Gaudreau, Taylor Hall, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Patrick Kane, and Alex Barkov. That game wasn’t an aberration either; Pettersson ranks 21st in the NHL, averaging 6.4 controlled entries per-20 minutes. If Pettersson can continue to carry the puck efficiently and generate as many quality shots as he has, he should still produce goals at a high rate, even when his shooting percentage cools off. Then again, the way this kid can rip it – it might not cool off much.