Rookies and the 20 Goal Plateau

Byron Bader
January 25 2014 09:18AM

-via halfaxdrunk

Flames' rookie Sean Monahan has been the talk of Flames Town for much of the 2013-14 season. He was selected in the 2013 draft 6th overall by the Flames and made the team immediately out of camp. He did not disappoint in his first few months in the league, putting up 15 points in roughly 20 games. His game has trailed off since then but he's still contributing on a Flames team that doesn't score very much. In fact, he's leading this Flames team in goals with his 14 on the season.

A few weeks ago I noted that, even though Monhan's production has trailed off dramatically, he looks like he should hit the 20 goal mark, barring a significant injury. The Flames haven't had a 20 goal rookie since Dion Phaneuf in 2006 and before that it was Jarome Iginla in 1997. That puts the kid in pretty good company.

Say what you will about Phaneuf but he's one of the highest paid defensemen in the league, plays big minutes and regularly finishes in the top 20 in d-man scoring. And then there's Iginla. We all know and love Jarome for what he did for the Flames for a decade. He may not be elite anymore but he certainly was a big time talent not too long ago.

With this in mind, I was curious how other 20 goal rookies around the league have fared after their rookie campaign. Specifically, I wanted to see what type of player they went on to be. To investigate, I compiled a list of all players that put up 20 or more goals in their rookie campaign, since the 2005 lockout.

THE NUMBERS

Player

Goals

Points

G/P

Year

Draft Year

SH%

Monahan

24

34

70.6%

2014

2013

17.7%

Gallagher*

28

52

53.8%

2013

2010

12.8%

Huberdeau*

24

53

45.3%

2013

2011

12.5%

Read

24

47

51.1%

2012

Undrafted

15.5%

Landeskog

22

52

42.3%

2012

2011

8.1%

Couture

32

56

57.1%

2011

2007

12.6%

Skinner

31

63

49.2%

2011

2010

14.4%

Hall

22

42

52.4%

2011

2010

11.8%

Marchand

21

41

51.2%

2011

2006

14.1%

Ennis

20

49

40.8%

2011

2008

9.5%

Stepan

21

45

46.7%

2011

2008

12.7%

Benn

22

41

53.7%

2011

2007

12.1%

Duchene

24

55

43.6%

2010

2009

13.3%

Tavares

24

54

44.4%

2010

2009

12.9%

Ryan

31

57

54.4%

2009

2005

17.8%

Neal

24

37

64.9%

2009

2005

14.0%

Stamkos

23

46

50.0%

2009

2008

12.7%

Wheeler

21

45

46.7%

2009

2004

14.0%

Grabovski

20

48

41.7%

2009

2005

16.7%

Toews

24

54

44.4%

2008

2006

16.7%

P. Kane

21

72

29.2%

2008

2007

11.0%

Malkin

33

85

38.8%

2007

2006

13.6%

Penner

29

45

64.4%

2007

Undrafted

14.2%

J. Staal

29

42

69.0%

2007

2006

22.1%

Stastny

28

78

35.9%

2007

2005

15.1%

Kopitar

20

51

39.2%

2007

2005

10.4%

Ovechkin

52

106

49.1%

2006

2004

12.2%

Crosby

39

102

38.2%

2006

2005

14.0%

Vanek

25

48

52.1%

2006

2003

12.3%

Carter

23

42

54.8%

2006

2003

12.2%

Higgins

23

38

60.5%

2006

2002

15.5%

Phaneuf

20

49

40.8%

2006

2003

8.3%

Umberger

20

38

52.6%

2006

2001

14.5%

Boyes

26

69

37.7%

2006

2000

12.8%

Yakupov*

29

53

54.7%

2013

2012

21.0%

Grabner

34

52

65.4%

2011

2006

14.9%

Versteeg

22

53

41.5%

2009

2004

15.8%

Berglund

21

47

44.7%

2009

2006

14.7%

Frolik

21

45

46.7%

2009

2006

13.3%

Eaves

20

29

69.0%

2006

2003

20.0%

Bergfors

21

44

47.7%

2010

2005

9.7%

Mueller

22

54

40.7%

2008

2006

10.9%

Wolski

22

50

44.0%

2007

2004

13.3%

Svatos

32

50

64.0%

2006

2001

19.4%

Prucha

30

47

63.8%

2006

2002

23.1%

Average

25.5

52.9

49.51%

 

 

14.1%

In total, the list includes 45 players that put up 20+ goals in their rookie year. The table includes the player, goals (rookie year), points (rookie year), their goal/points ratio, the year they did it, their draft year and their shooting percentage that year. Monahan is highlighted in red at the top with his projected scoring totals for the end of the season, players that regularly play in the top six are highlighted in blue, players playing further down the depth chart are highlighted in pink and players now out of the league are highlighted in grey. The asterix indicates players from the shortened 2012-13 season who's 48 game totals were estimated over 82 games.

What we find is that the vast majority of players, 75% in fact, have gone on to regularly play in the top six. Conversely, 14% are still recognizable players but not top six players and only 11% of the players could be considered a flash in the pan and are now out of the league. This suggests that if a player tallies 20 or more goals in his rookie year, there's an 89% chance you have a player who, at the very least, is going to play significant minutes in the NHL for many years.

1st overall selections like Ovechkin, Malkin, Crosby, Tavares, Stamkos and P. Kane all made the list. The list also includes a number of players that have gone on to be very elite players without being drafted 1st overall. Names like Toews, Kopitar, Stastny, Carter, Vanek, Duchene, Skinner and Couture all put up north of 20 goals in their rookie campaign and have all progressed significantly since those outstanding rookie years. Newer players like Landeskog, Gallagher and Huberdeau are all doing well after their 1st year as well. So what does this mean for Monahan? Will he become a good NHLer?

 

Like the players on the list, it's a good bet that Monahan is a good to great player with a long career ahead. But there are a few minor concerns when it comes to Monahan.

For one, he's essentially all goals with very little assists. At this point, 70% of his points have come from goals. That is the highest goals/points ratio on the list. Looking at the list, the players with a goal/point ratio higher than 60% tend to be less elite than their peers (e.g., Dustin Penner, Patrick Eaves and Chris Higgins). However, James Neal also had a G/P ratio over 60% and he's an elite talent especially when coupled with an elite playmaker like Malkin or Crosby. Perhaps Monahan develops into a trigger man like Neal.

The other concern is Monahan's shooting percentage. He scored on about 20% of his shots to start off the season which led to his hot start. That shooting percentage has come down as has his production but it still sits at 17%. Most of the players on the list that turned into top six talent had a shooting percentage right around the typical NHL-wide average of 10%-12%. Marek Svatos and Petr Prucha both had incredibly high shooting percentages their first years. But, today, both are out of the league after only a few years in the NHL.  

Onto the positive side again. Out of the 45 players on the list (not including Monahan), 11 came into the league directly after being drafted. The list consists of Yakupov, Landeskog, Skinner, Hall, Duchene, Tavares, Stamkos, P. Kane, J. Staal, Malkin and Crosby. You could argue with ease that every one of those players is very elite. The only exceptions being perhaps Jordan Staal and Nail Yakupov, who the jury's still out on. This lends support for the argument that Monahan is ready for the NHL and shouldn't have been sent back to juniors. Like his peers in this category, he's got the goods already to do well in the bigs, witnessed by his goal production.  

SUM IT UP

Scoring 20 goals as a rookie, especially a newly drafted rookie, is certainly something to write home about as hitting the feat seems to be partially predictive of the player's future in the NHL. 75% of rookies that scored 20 goals or more since the 2005 lockout have gone on to play in a top six role and 89% have become regular NHLers. Like any top prospect, Flames fans are excited about Monahan and his potential. While Monahan's goal/points ratio and shooting percentage provide a certain caution of his future success, Monahan likely hitting the 20 goal mark is a definite sign of his potential. Based on the players that have hit the 20 goal mark their first season, Monahan is in very good and elite company and, assuming he hits that mark, it's a good bet that he'll be a pretty good player for this Flames team for years to come.

Fb039371a1a1b706383cb72243cb4446
Byron has always been curious about numbers and stats, especially related to hockey. His background includes schooling heavily-focused on psychology, economics and statistics and a professional background revolving around reseach, segmentation, data mining and statistics. His love for hockey is as deep as the ocean is wide. Tell him your questions and let him into your heart. Twitter: @Baderader; Email: byron.bader@gmail.com