Tomas Kaberle Shoots the Puck with Average Frequency

It was probably just a really aggressive pass. (Apologies to the original photographer - not one of the sites I found this on credited the source)


Former and forever Leaf Tomas Kaberle has picked up a bizarre stigma that seems to have travelled with him to his new team. Kaberle’s reputation seems to have started when someone thought that guy in the stands yelling “SHOOOOOOT” had a point, and that Kaberle, known for his pass-first mentality and his ability to execute it, should listen to him. And now it’s taken as gospel: If Tomas “Doesn’t Shoot” Kaberle takes the zone and you need a little filler, just point out how he never shoots. If he does shoot, remind everyone it’s a “rare” shot, and if he doesn’t shoot, advocate replacing him with someone that shoots more. It’s a truism to lazy play-by-play commentators and Andy Frost radio show callers everywhere. 

It gathered steam, and it sticks regardless of whether or not Kaberle’s a below average shooter. In truth, Tomas Kaberle finished 40th in shots among defensemen in the NHL; right where you might expect a second pairing player to end up. Among all defensemen in the NHL with a 20 GP minimum, Tomas ranked 147th of 236, with 3.04 shots per 60. 37th percentile – low, to be sure – but above names like Gonchar, Bouwmeester, Doughty, and Robidas, none of whom are known for their lack of a shot. On the power play, Kaberle shoots with even more of an average frequency; among all defensemen with at least 20 GP and 1 minute of PP TOI / GM, Kaberle posted 8.71 shots per 60, good for the 53rd percentile of 119 candidates.


Anecdotally, it’s weird to me that there’s so much desire for Kaberle to shoot the puck. He’s spent time with Chara, Phaneuf, and Schenn, all of whom boast much tougher slap shots than Kaberle’s (I’d have more on this, but Dobber Hockey’s line pairings for him seem confused, suggesting that he’s spent time with Sidenberg in Toronto and Phaneuf in Boston). He’s definitely passed up what I would consider some good looks, and he’s got a pretty mean wrister, but his last three years have given him an unremarkable shooting percentage of 3.9% (career: 6.1%), while he’s known for being able to string together some pretty narrow passes.


Kaberle doesn’t shoot a ton – I get where the idea comes from. But it seems weird that he gets this unique reputation that’s so strong, people wouldn’t even want him on their team because of it (save that sentiment for his recent defensive play). Kaberle takes a shot after play is whistled offside, and a dozen jokes involving the phrase “Kaberle finally takes a shot” pop up right away. To say the least, it’s a little overdone.


(TOI and shot numbers are care of, which sadly doesn’t account for pre/post trade. Data used in this piece is available for your manipulation by downloading a copy here.) is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of