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Despite the arrival of Elias Pettersson, the Vancouver Canucks only scored 219 goals in the 2018/19 season—good enough for a tie with New Jersey for 25th place in the league. The paltry sum was also a full 100 goals short of the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning—and that’s about as clear an indicator as possible of the team’s desperate need to add to their offensive totals in 2019/20 if they’re to stand any chance of making the playoffs.

Fortunately, there’s reason for optimism. Not only have the Canucks added a trio of potentially potent players in JT Miller, Micheal Ferland, and Tyler Myers over the course of the offseason, they’ll also presumably benefit from full-season performances by Quinn Hughes and Tanner Pearson.

Beyond that, there’s also some statistical evidence that several individuals already on the roster could be due for personal scoring bumps in 2019/20. We’ve sorted these players into four camps—those with abnormally low shooting percentages in 2018/19, those who hit a lot of posts and crossbars, those still on the upside of their developmental curve, and those who will be playing with better linemates this season than they have in seasons past.

As it’s impossible to speculate about the health of players, we’ll refrain from discussing those players who could see an increase in their scoring total by spending less time on the IR—and also because it’s pretty self-explanatory that players who play more games this season than last will probably put up more points. The same goes for rookies like Hughes, who will receive a greater opportunity to play.

Of course, we should also mention that this article is in no way insinuating that all of these players will see their scoring totals increase in 2019/20—that’s pretty much impossible. There’s only so much ice-time—and specifically, ice-time in the offensive zone—to go around, and not everyone will be able to cash in on their statistical opportunity.

Those With Abnormally Low Shooting Percentages In 2018/19

Traditionally, a player having a much lower shooting percentage in a given season than their career average is seen as a sign of bad luck or of a player being “snakebitten.” It’s not a guarantee that a player with a lower-than-career-average shooting percentage will bounce back to their previous shooting efficiency, but it’s often a pretty safe bet.

Jay Beagle

  Age Games Goals Assists Points Shooting %
2018/19 33 57 3 10 13 6.7
Career / 528 54 75 129 9.4

Beagle’s lower-than-career-average shooting percentage says there’s hope for him to at least score more than three goals in 2019/20, but his age says “not that much hope.” Beagle topping five goals seems like a reasonable expectation, but he’ll likely never hit double digits again.

Brock Boeser

  Age Games Goals Assists Points Shooting %
2018/19 22 69 26 30 56 12.4
Career / 140 59 57 116 14.3

Boeser barely bears inclusion in this category, as his 2018/19 shooting percentage was less than two percentage points lower than his career average—and that’s a number culled from a very short sample size. Still, one probably expects Boeser’s continued career average to settle somewhere closer to the 16.2% of his rookie campaign than the 12.4% of 2018/19—and that could bode well for his scoring to increase next season.

Nikolay Goldobin

  Age Games Goals Assists Points Shooting %
2018/19 23 63 7 20 27 6.7
Career / 124 19 27 46 10.8

Though Goldobin posted a career high in points with 27 in 2018/19, he actually scored fewer goals in 63 games than he did across 38 games the previous season. That’s probably in large part due to his much lower-than-average shooting percentage of 6.7%. Goldobin is the sort of player that could add a bunch of goals next season just by being a bit luckier—assuming he maintains a spot in the lineup, that is.

Those Who Hit A Lot Of Posts And Crossbars

Hitting the post or crossbar doesn’t technically count as a shot on net—but it’s as close as a player can come to scoring without actually doing it. Sometimes, a player that hits a lot of posts or crossbars in a season can also be seen as suffering from “bad luck”—and thus might be due for a slight goal-scoring bump the following season once their fortune evens out.

Jake Virtanen

  Posts Hit Crossbars Hit
2018/19 7 2

Shotgun Jake electrified fans in 2018/19, but his stat columns still left a lot to be desired from the former 6th overall pick. Virtanen racked up a career high of 15 goals, but he also hit nine total posts—meaning he was only a few lucky breaks away from a 20-goal season. Such a total seems quite possible for Virtanen in 2019/20. 

Nikolay Goldobin

  Posts Hit Crossbars Hit
2018/19 7 1

Furthering the narrative that Goldobin was unlucky in 2018/19 is the fact that he hit seven posts and one crossbar. Had Goldobin shot at a slightly higher percentage and had a few of his non-shots go off the post and in instead of off the post and out, he’d have easily broken double digits in goals—and he might do just that in 2019/20 if he’s given the chance.

Elias Pettersson

  Posts Hit Crossbars Hit
2018/19 6 2

Nobody’s going to complain about Pettersson’s offensive totals in his rookie season, but it still bears mention that had just a quarter of his post-shots gone in, he’d have hit 30 goals while playing just 71 games. Pettersson scoring 30 in 2019/20 seems like a foregone conclusion. 

Those On The Upside Of Their Developmental Curve

Developmental curves are a tricky thing to nail down when it comes to professional sports, but recent work at this site and elsewhere has settled on an average “prime” for NHL players coming somewhere between the ages of 22 and 26—and typically, a player’s peak production will also fall within that range.

In other words, players falling under the “25 and under” category are far more likely to see their scoring totals increase from one year to another than older players are. Fortunately for the Canucks, they’ve got a boatload of players in that category

Elias Pettersson

  Age Games Goals Assists Points Shooting %
2018/19 / 71 28 38 66 19.4
Career 20 71 28 38 66 19.4

At the age of 20, the sky is still the limit for Pettersson. As long as he stays healthy, he’ll increase his goal and point totals in 2019/20.

Brock Boeser

  Age Games Goals Assists Points Shooting %
2018/19 / 69 26 30 56 12.4
Career 22 140 59 57 116 14.3

His shooting percentage aside, Boeser stands to increase his offensive totals solely on the merit of being one year older and having another season to develop chemistry with Pettersson.

Bo Horvat

  Age Games Goals Assists Points Shooting %
2018/19 / 82 27 34 61 11.9
Career 24 377 98 124 222 12.4

At the age of 24 and having crossed the 60-point threshold, Horvat has to be getting pretty close to his peak production—but there’s still time for another leap forward before all is said and done.

Jake Virtanen

  Age Games Goals Assists Points Shooting %
2018/19 / 70 15 10 25 9.7
Career 22 210 32 27 59 8.2

With a little extra luck, a little extra development, and perhaps some tutelage under Micheal Ferland, Virtanen seems poised to continue his offensive development.

Nikolay Goldobin

  Age Games Goals Assists Points Shooting %
2018/19 / 63 7 20 27 6.7
Career 23 124 19 27 46 10.8

At the age of 23, Goldobin is coming off his first full season in the NHL—and he appears to still have a lot of untapped offensive potential. If he can earn Travis Green’s trust and a spot in the top-nine forwards, there are a lot of factors in place to suggest Goldobin’s scoring totals will increase greatly in 2019/20.

Adam Gaudette

  Age Games Goals Assists Points Shooting %
2018/19 / 56 5 7 12 9.1
Career 22 61 5 7 12 7.8

Due to his three-year stint in college, Gaudette is already a bit older than he seems—but still more than young enough to experience several scoring-related growth spurts yet. He’ll no doubt receive a greater opportunity in 2019/20, and will almost certainly increase his point-per-game average when he does so.

Troy Stecher

  Age Games Goals Assists Points Shooting %
2018/19 / 78 2 21 23 1.9
Career 25 217 6 52 58 1.9

Defensemen can tend to peak a little bit later than forwards, and that’s especially true for those who enter the league at a late age like Stecher. At 25 years old, there’s still a chance that he can take his offense to another level—and perhaps become a 30-point defender.

Tyler Motte

  Age Games Goals Assists Points Shooting %
2018/19 / 74 9 7 16 7.9
Career 24 153 18 12 30 8.0

Few think of Motte as a player with a lot of potential, but he is just 24 years old and coming off his first full NHL campaign. It’s not entirely out of the question for him to add another layer of offense to his game, but it’s probably pretty unlikely. Last season’s nine goals reads like a career high for Motte.

Those Who Will Be Playing With Better Linemates

It stands to reason that a player who plays with better quality linemates from one season to the next will see an increase in their scoring totals. The Canucks really only have two players in this category, but they’re both pretty significant ones.

Bo Horvat

2018/19 Most Frequent Even Strength Linemates

From Dobber’s Frozen Tools

Right now, Horvat stands to play with some combination of Micheal Ferland, Tanner Pearson, JT Miller, and Sven Baertschi—which is a whole lot better than the island of misfit wingers he found himself stuck on for much of 2018/19. Miller’s ability to play center also opens up the possibility of the Canucks occasionally rolling a super-line of Horvat, Pettersson, and Boeser—so it’s fair to say that Horvat should receive more offensive opportunity in 2019/20. 

Jake Virtanen

2018/19 Most Frequent Even Strength Linemates

From Dobber’s Frozen Tools

Aside from perhaps Goldobin, Virtanen seems like the best dark horse candidate to dramatically increase his scoring totals in 2019/20. Though he did receive occasional top-six opportunities last season, Virtanen played the bulk of the year with less-than-offensively-inspiring linemates like Brandon Sutter, Markus Granlund, and Loui Eriksson—whereas in 2019/20 he stands to be a major part of a much more potent top-nine.

Tune in next week, when we’ll try to crunch the numbers and figure out just how many more goals the Canucks might score in 2019/20, and whether it’ll be enough to push them to the playoffs.


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