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Who is leading the NHL in Goals?

Plus I make up some awards to hand out in addition to the Richard.

Washington Capitals v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images

On Thursday Alex Ovechkin led the NHL in goals and points. This bit of trivia has to, by its nature, ignore how many games each team has played at a time when the gap between top and bottom is 10 games. If it’s only plausible to look at the standings via points percentage, then some kind of rating for goals and points is in order to play this trivia game fairly. If you really want to know who is putting up points better than anyone else you use P60, but for this sort of “more goals than thou” exercise a per game rate will do.

Rated Richard Race

The winner of the RRR at the mid-January mark is Jack Drury at 1 G/GP. Wow, he’s good. He sure was in the SHL, but he has only played two games for Carolina, so like always with a rated statistic, we need a cut-off point to make this meaningful. Now I have a conundrum, because Ilya Mikheyev is tied with Max Pacioretty in second with .75, and I might be tempted to set the cut off low enough to include him. I will consult with experts for my number.

They picked 20 games played, so we have to sadly wave goodbye to Mikheyev as the leader. Pacioretty has 16 games played, so he goes too. Right behind them at .74 are Leon Draisaitl and Auston Matthews as our new leaders. Below them with a big jump down to .68 are Filip Forsberg and Alex Ovechkin. Next is Brad Marchand at .65, and that’s likely where the race for the Richard dissolves into some faint hope cases that require a shooting heater to last quite a few weeks.

There’s some fun names in there, though: Jake Guentzel, Chris Kreider, and Kyle Connor are all at .6 or higher. Florida is represented by Aleksander Barkov, Sam Bennett and Anthony Duclair all at .5-something. Florida is annoying.

The Orr Race

There should be an award for the top goal-scoring defenceman, and it should be named after Bobby Orr. He scored at a rate of .41 over his career.

This year the Orr race is led by, obviously, Cale Makar with .48. That might be sustainable. Next is Roman Josi at .33 and then Devon Toews and Adam Boqvist at .27. Aaron Ekblad (annoying) is at .26. Makar is driving away with this fantasy award, no matter who else does what. Makar is 26th overall in the Rated Richard, which is impressive.

The Zero Race

It’s not impossible to be a regular NHLer and never score a goal. Defencemen unlike Makar in all ways proliferate and a lot of them never score. So far this year there are still 38 players with at least 20 games and no goals. The surprise is that 11 of them are forwards. That list of the truly snakebit is:

  • Greg McKegg
  • Jayson Megna
  • Mike Hardman
  • Cedric Paquette
  • Lane Pederson
  • Jonah Gadjovich
  • Tyler Pitlick
  • Joel Kiviranta
  • John Hayden
  • Ryan Carpenter
  • Joonas Donskoi

Points-less

Some strange people think all points are pointless, but this award goes to the very rarest of all people, the regular player who never gets a point. It’s not usually awarded when a season goes to 82 games. Nick Seeler of the Flyers is the only candidate. But the aforementioned Paquette only has one point in 20 games, and whatever could be the trouble in Montréal, it’s a mystery. Jay Beagle also has one point.

The Rated Ross

The rated Ross race is not led by Ovechkin either, it is, of course, Connor McDavid with 1.56 points per game played that tops the NHL right now. Behind him is Leon Draisaitl (funny how that works) with 1.54. Nazem Kadri is in the All-Star Game because he’s third with 1.5. Nathan MacKinnon has 1.48, Brad Marchand is at 1.39, and Ovechkin is sixth with 1.38. The rest of the top players could shake things up, but just given the ice time McDavid gets, and the fact he’s the best player in the world, it seems hard to shift him from the top of the list.

The Coffey Race

Since Orr gets the defenceman goal award named for him, I picked Paul Coffey for the points version. You’ll be shocked to hear that Makar is leading that one too at 1.12, good for 21st overall. Adam Fox and Victor Hedman are tied for second with 1.05, and Devon Toews is next with 1.04. Roman Josi rounds out the potential winners with 1.03. Everyone else is below 1, and no one is catching Makar, anyway.

The Ringo Starr Race

Since I’m sullying my hands with points, I might as well go all out and give an award to the guy who gets by with a little help from his (goal-scoring) friends.

You might expect McDavid or one of those Coffey challengers to be on top, but this one is a bit of a surprise. Nathan MacKinnon leads with 1.15, while Kadri is second with 1.06.

McDavid is third with 1, and Jonathan Huberdeau is fourth (annoying) with .97. Kris Letang and Adam Fox are next, and are the defence leaders in this category with .88. Probably the best pure playmaker in the NHL, Artemi Panarin, is next with .86 followed by Mark Stone and Victor Hedman with .83.

All about the Leafs

Most goals per game: If you need me to tell you, you’re in the wrong article, but he has .74. William Nylander is second with .43.

Most defender goals per game: Morgan Rielly with .11 which ties him with Wayne Simmonds and David Kämpf. Second is TJ Brodie which will stop being funny about never. The rest of the D score less than Nick Ritchie.

Zero Goals: Rasmus Sandin

Most points per game: Matthews with 1.21 from very few assists. Nylander and John Tavares are tied with 1 for second.

Defender points per game: Morgan Rielly at .84 which is fifth on the team (Mitch Marner is the person in between Tavares and Rielly). The rest of the defence puts up points like Nick Ritchie.

Assists per game: Rielly leads with .73, so he gets two awards. Marner is second with .61. His career rate is .71, so he’s very much having a down start to the season.


And that’s who is really leading the NHL in goals and points. Not surprisingly the top of the list for all-situations time on ice per game played for forwards looks like this:

  • Draisaitl
  • McDavid
  • Ovechkin
  • MacKinnon
  • P. Kane
  • Kuznetsov
  • Scheifele
  • Connor
  • Miller
  • Kopitar
  • Marner
  • Matthews

Points gets you ice time and ice time gets you points - the chicken and egg question of the NHL. Matthews never used to be that low on a list like this, though. That might need some examination at a future date.