Gustav Nyquist was simply amazing and thrilling this past season. I was in attendance for his first game of the season, and he promptly scored on the first shift of the game, later following it up with a second goal. He pushed possession on every line he played, and within a couple minutes he began a stretch that made him the hottest goal scorer in the entire league for months at a time, capped off in a highlight reel goal against Tampa Bay that was probably either the best goal of the whole season or second only to the Datsyukian goal Tatar managed against Dallas. He turned in a fantastic performance, but the real question is how much can we bank on him actually producing next year? His season last year was so chock-full of asterisks that it's difficult to even know where to begin. Among them:
- He only played 57 games! Surely he'll get way more chances to score
- His shooting percentage was 18.3%. It was actually higher at even-strength than it was on the PP, and there's no chance whatsoever he maintains a 5v5 shooting% of 18.8% over the course of 82 games. The 18.3% was good for 5th in the whole league (minimum half season played), and the 18.8% 5v5 number was first in the entire NHL.
- He didn't immediately get top line minutes, and his production did spike up once he started getting them. He should score more if he gets a top-6 role all year.
- He didn't really get consistent PP1 time for awhile, so there's some reason to think he'll get more PP minutes this season, thus much more chance for scoring goals.
- THAT SHOOTING PERCENTAGE THOUGH.
Shooting Percentage Estimate
Shot Total Estimate
With the exception of a down month in April, his shot rate went up quite a bit as he got more ice time. This makes sense - he came up and played a middling role at even-strength and not a ton on the PP, and a couple months later he was playing Johan Franzen minutes. We're going to assume he maintains a significant role next year given his strong results. His January-April shot rate (when his role increased) was 2.93 shot/game. I'm going to go ahead and say he'll shoot an even 3 shots/game. I think this is a bit conservative because there's clear room for improvement, but I think this is a fair estimate.
Drawing a Conclusion
We've estimated an 11% shooting percentage with 3 shots/game. If Nyquist were to play a full 82 game season, that would result in 246 shots for 27 goals. It's entirely possible his sh% or shot rate varies a bit from those figures, but overall I think this is a pretty reasonable estimate. If he plays a full season, I think this means we can reasonably expect 25 goals out of Nyquist with 30 goal potential if he increases his shot rate and/or proves to maintain an above-average shooting percentage. If this sounds high to you, keep in mind we're assuming he basically gets Johan Franzen minutes, including the PP1 time. If this sounds low to you, keep in mind that we cannot reasonably expect him to shoot at the insanely high clip that he went at last year. If he does, awesome, but projecting that to happen again is silly.
So if you want to track Nyquist's goals this year, keep an eye on those two factors - is he shooting above or below that 3 shots/game rate? Is he maintaining an above-average shooting percentage, or is he reverting towards league average? Is he getting PP time, and if so, how is that affecting his sh%? It can be easy to see a guy like Nyquist regress towards a more sane number and slap the label "Sophomore Slump" on him and be done with it, but if we can go into the season with more reasonable expectations, we can recognize that while his goal scoring will very likely slow down, his other strengths (like his ability to drive possession consistently) should be a big benefit for the team.