Numbers Never Lie: Pacioretty is the NHL’s Best Active American Goal Scorer

Max Pacioretty analytics

Photo: Canadian Press

This may seem like a very specific category in which to be number one, and it may be, however it still slots Max Pacioretty ahead of the likes of Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel, Zach Parise, Bobby Ryan and Joe Pavelski. Not such a nothing statement after all.

Now reasonably you’re thinking I’m a ludicrous homer inflating the value of his own players, how could I not be when Pacioretty has the worst GPG out of all of these players?

Career G/GP

PlayerGPGPGPG
Zach Parise6172415040.391
Bobby Ryan4481703370.379
Phil Kessel5862224590.379
Joe Pavelski5611914150.346
Patrick Kane5151784930.346
Max Pacioretty3191072130.335

By the looks of this table, Max Pacioretty shouldn’t even be considered in the race for best active american goal scorer. This didn’t sit right with me knowing how good Max has been in the last few years.

In just about every player’s developmental process there were stints with the big club, I recalled Max going through that phase for quite a long time. So I did a little bit of wikisurfing. None of the players on this list spent nearly as long splitting time between the AHL and the NHL as Max Pacioretty.

These games count equally towards each player’s GP stat even though they’re playing it most likely on the 4th line with limited ice time and limited practice with the team. The players are obviously not given the same opportunity to be productive in a ‘Yo-yo’ season (split AHL/NHL seasons). A Yo-yo season is any season a player splits time between two leagues with less than 60 games played for the NHL team (defined by yours truly, so it’s not exactly set in stone).

So I got curious and excluded the yo-yo seasons (the Yo-Yo Adjustment or YYA). As you’ll see, the results change drastically

YYA G/GP

PlayerGPGPTSG/GP
Max Pacioretty2331011880.433
Zach Parise6172415040.391
Bobby Ryan4251653270.388
Phil Kessel5862224590.379
Patrick Kane5151784930.346
Joe Pavelski5151773870.344

And just like that, a new leader emerges. Just by applying the YYA, Pacioretty’s G/GP ratio jumps 22.6% from 0.335 to 0.433. He also notably jumped from 6th among the group to 1st, and by no small margin either.

While impressive, G/GP is just the tip of the iceberg. I thought of every stat category important in generating goals or individual scoring chances and Yo-yo adjusted them (if you have a better name for this process, feel free to leave a suggestion). I almost didn’t believe the results. Now that we’re getting into possession metric type stats, the measuring process gets a little bit hairy, so for clarity I will lay out how I did it at the bottom of the page.

Pacioretty Dominates Even Strength

PlayerG/60Shots/60iFenwick/60iCorsi/60
Max Pacioretty1.18211.7116.14820.076
Patrick Kane0.8498.611.36714.558
Phil Kessel1.09710.5614.33918.967
Joe Pavelski0.9189.5913.20216.393
Bobby Ryan1.1098.9212.46615.662
Zach Parise0.93710.7514.13016.478

Pacioretty is head and shoulders ahead of the pack in EVERY. SINGLE. CATEGORY. Is the reason Pacioretty is so underrated as a goalscorer seriously only because of two developmental seasons dragging his numbers down? These people not recognizing Pacioretty’s talent clearly need to take a closer look (especially this guy at the CBC who went so far as to say Pacioretty’s contract was among the worst for Canadian teams). These numbers much more accurately depict the players we are watching. Need more proof?

Pacioretty vs. NHL Elite (YYA)

PlayerG/60S/60iFenwick/60iCorsi/60
Sidney Crosby1.330 (1)9.05 (7)11.963 (7)14.487 (8)
Steven Stamkos1.288 (2)8.32 (9)11.572 (8)14.314 (9)
Max Pacioretty1.182 (3)11.71 (1)16.148 (1)20.076 (1)
Rick Nash1.168 (4)11.39 (2)14.782 (3)18.484 (4)
Jaime Benn1.117 (5)9.18 (6)12.8 (6)16.617 (5)
Jonathan Toews1.093 (6)7.86 (10)9.76 (10)11.717 (10)
Jeff Skinner1.091 (7)10.44 (4)14.346 (4)18.785 (3)
Jeff Carter1.085 (8)11.04 (3)15.462 (2)19.727 (2)
Corey Perry1.081 (9)9.45 (5)13.064 (5)15.781 (6)
Evgeni Malkin1.001 (10)8.53 (8)11.388 (9)14.532 (7)

These are the leaders of G/GP over the past 4 years, each with their stats Yo-yo adjusted. If it wasn’t enough that is Pacioretty way ahead of the active American goal scorers, you can now add the fact that at even strength only Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos are more efficient at scoring goals. Let me say that again. The only two players better at scoring goals at even strength are the undisputed two best players in the world. If that is STILL not enough to convince you that Pacioretty is a serious threat, look at his Corsi, Fenwick or Shots per 60mins. Nobody even comes close. Not even Crosby, nor Stamkos, nor anyone else on this list can generate that many shot attempts.

If anyone ever doubts Pacioretty’s offensive talents, we now know what they are really saying is, “I am an ignorant hockey fan look at me spew bullshit out of my mouth”. Harsh? Yes. While Pacioretty does still have problem spots and in some areas we will have to wait and see if he can continue to develop,  I am not arguing that this evidence proves Pacioretty is a better hockey player than any of the players mentioned in this post. I am however arguing that Pacioretty is the best in the game at generating individual scoring attempts and the third most efficient scorer at even strength.

Now for the boring stuff. None of the sites are engineered to clearly display YYA (obviously, since I just created it) that being said, it is a time consuming process to collect info for multiple players. So there is a margin of error. Here’s how the data is collected:

On stats.hockeyanalysis.com you can select to view stats from several different time spans (1 year – 7 years) meaning that ALL of the data for that player over the designated time period will be amassed into a total. All YYA is, is selecting the time span that is appropriate for each player. For example, Pacioretty only started playing with the Canadiens full time in 2010-2011, so for him we’d select 4-year span (2010-2014) and use the stats that show up there. Also since this type of data is only available dating back to 2007, the max span we can look at is 7-year so we end up not seeing numbers from an entire career. But there’s nothing we can do about that. I hope that clears things up.

Share Button

2 Responses to Numbers Never Lie: Pacioretty is the NHL’s Best Active American Goal Scorer

  1. Great paper!
    During the off-season, I got too passionate in my response on a Hab blog (THE official Hab blog, “If I were MB”) and got two warnings (three points) because I defended these players and gently treated those fans of charitable GMs, etc. Those “smart” fans were throwing around in transactions Max, Plecky, Prusty and Josh among others. Although, now that it’s done, Josh being gone is not so huge of the lose, being given his cap – that MB offered, just as in Moen’s case – I surely am happy that it’s the only one among the four. Although, I still miss Gorges’ presence…
    IT’s weird how people see as intangible some players like Eller, and see as ‘must go” the likes of Max, Plecky and Prusty. I’m glad they’re still here!
    I hope it says that way!
    Thanks!

    Cristian October 16, 2014 at 10:00 am Reply
  2. Hello to every one, the contents present at this site are really remarkable for people knowledge, well, keep up the
    nice work fellows.

    Marcos May 6, 2019 at 10:02 pm Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

20 + six =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Draft Recap: Habs Stock Up On Defense

This year’s NHL draft has come and gone in a blink of an eye. Scouts and their organizations prepare for so long for a two-day event, hoping to walk away with the future of their teams in their quest for the ultimate goal, the Stanley Cup. The Canadiens came into Vancouver with a goal to […]

Share Button

JOIN THE CONVERSATION