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NCAA Fantasy Hockey Mid-Season Break: look at shot percentage

The mystery of the shrinking Snodgrass shot percentage

Elizabeth Giguère is dominating scoring — can she sustain it?
Photo : The Associated Press/Stacy Bengs

Hello everyone!

Remember that the trade deadline is coming up on us fast, Thursday, Dec. 27 at 11:59pm eastern. And remember that you can do a set of FOUR trades to be executed at that deadline, as a one-time holiday treat: mail me at tigFantasyHockey@gmail.com with the details. So the question is, who should you be trading for?

One obvious answer is to find expected points for the rest of the season by multiplying points per game so far by remaining games. I’ve added a table to columns AA-AC of the Points Stats tab that gives you this figure. It’s led by the usual suspects. The leading skaters are Jesse Compher (BU, $47.3, 32.7 SP, 7 picks), Elizabeth Giguère (Clarkson, $73, 35.4 SP, 15 picks), Loren Gabel (Clarkson, $71.5, 31.5 SP, 16 picks), Michaela Pejzlová (Clarkson, $59.8, 29.6 SP, 7 picks), Maureen Murphy (Providence, $49.9, 33.4 SP, 9 picks), and Alina Mueller (Northeastern, $39.2, 25.1 SP, 13 picks). The leading goalies are Lindsay Reed (Harvard, $27.5, 18.3 SP, 3 picks), Abigail Levy (Minnesota State, $37.3, 30.25 SP, 4 picks) and, despite her team’s relative struggles, Maddie Rooney (Minnesota-Duluth, $43.9, 22.2 SP, 12 picks).

So far so straightforward. But for those of us who need a bit of an edge, maybe we need some way to tell who the price and the projected remaining score is overrating or underrating. For that, let’s have a look at shot percentage — the chance that if a player takes a shot on goal, it goes in. This might tell us who’s unexpectedly underperforming this year and might well do better, and it might tell us who might be heading for a fall.

I am not throwing away my shot

The table below shows all the skaters who’ve been picked by two or more managers, and who played last season and this season, ranked by the change in their shot percentage from last year to this. If someone’s percentage has gone significantly up or down, and we can’t see any reason why that might have happened, then we might reasonably expect the percentage to correct towards its previous value as the season goes on.

This table was fascinating. We’ll discuss it in detail below.

Change in shot %, last year to this

Player Shots this year Shot % this year Shot % last year Change
Player Shots this year Shot % this year Shot % last year Change
Jesse Compher 54 0.204 0.072 0.132
Tereza Vanisová 67 0.209 0.095 0.114
Claire Thompson 39 0.154 0.085 0.069
Carly Bullock 56 0.214 0.147 0.067
Grace Zumwinkle 83 0.157 0.104 0.053
Jaycee Gebhard 87 0.172 0.123 0.049
Maureen Murphy 102 0.167 0.119 0.048
Kristin O'Neill 55 0.164 0.131 0.033
Abby Roque 51 0.118 0.087 0.031
Tatum Skaggs 61 0.197 0.167 0.03
Mekenzie Steffen 47 0.064 0.034 0.03
Stephanie Sucharda 14 0.071 0.043 0.028
Haley Mack 43 0.116 0.09 0.026
Katelyn Rae 74 0.176 0.152 0.024
Michaela Pejzlová 43 0.279 0.255 0.024
Presley Norby 74 0.095 0.074 0.021
Jessie Eldridge 94 0.138 0.126 0.012
Emma Maltais 93 0.097 0.094 0.003
Elizabeth Giguère 71 0.183 0.181 0.002
Jincy Dunne 50 0.02 0.023 -0.003
Patti Marshall 30 0.033 0.037 -0.004
Ella Shelton 50 0.04 0.052 -0.012
Natalie Heising 78 0.128 0.145 -0.017
Olivia Zafuto 44 0.045 0.083 -0.038
Makenna Newkirk 56 0.125 0.163 -0.038
Loren Gabel 115 0.122 0.163 -0.041
Caitrin Lonergan 78 0.103 0.152 -0.049
Kirsten Welsh 64 0.078 0.14 -0.062
Justine Reyes 55 0.073 0.139 -0.066
Daryl Watts 104 0.106 0.195 -0.089
Natalie Snodgrass 99 0.03 0.124 -0.094

Let’s look at each player from the top and the bottom of the table, and the most interesting ones from the middle. Because we’re starting with the top, the question we’re asking will start off as “should you sell?” and turn into “should you buy?” as we go down the table.

Jesse Compher, from last year, before she was Jesse Compher
Michelle Jay
  • Jesse Compher (BU, $47.3, 32.7 SP, 7 picks) is massively outperforming last year. 0.072 was low for an elite performer, but 0.204 is very high. However, one of Compher’s strengths seems to be as a playmaker: she has 11 goals this season, but 20 assists. Even if her shot percentage falls to a still-elite 0.14, she could still score 8 goals in her next 18 games. She seems like a safe bet to continue to produce fantasy points at a high rate.
  • Tereza Vanišsová (Maine, $31.7, 15.3 SP, 5 picks) is at an even higher shot % this year than Compher but considerably behind her in points. This is because she seems to be a bit of a koff puck hog koff — 14 goals but only 5 assists in 18 games played this season. Any falloff in shot % will hurt her points hard. Probably a good sale at this point.
  • Claire Thompson (Princeton, $33.9, 19.1 SP, 3 picks) has been a popular pickup the last few weeks, but I’m a little concerned about her sustainability. Her shooting % of 0.154 is the highest by a defender in this list by a considerable margin — next is Stephanie Sucharda, also from Princeton, at 0.071, and other D are around 0.04. Defenders get 1.5 fantasy points for a goal, and Thompson has 6 goals and 7 assists on the season. Not to deny Thompson’s obvious talent, but there’s a real gamble taking her on: she could easily drop a full 0.1 in shot % in the second half of the season and that would leave her on a very average 13 projected points for the rest of the season as opposed to her current very competitive 19. Even dropping to last year’s shot % would leave her 4.5 points short of current projections.
  • Carly Bullock (Princeton, $32.3, 18.5 SP, 6 picks): But maybe Princeton have just got a new shooting coach or something. Bullock is second in shot % for the whole season on an elite-but-not-unheard-of 0.214 and though with 12 goals and 9 assists she’s looking a bit puck-hoggy (apologies for pig pun in paragraph on Bullock, will workshop harder next time), even if she drops back to last year’s success rate that’ll only be four fewer points. Princeton had a surprising tie against Harvard and a statement win against Colgate in November, but it’s hard to tell how good they really are. The December 30/31 series against Merrimack will be a real tell here. Bullock seems like a hold till those results are in but a possible sell after that.
  • Grace Zumwinkle (Minnesota, $42.4, 24.2 SP, 8 picks): Minnesota’s quiet heroine is anchoring their most effective line, with 13 goals and 11 assists this season. 0.157 shooting % is a significant step forward from 0.104, but seems sustainable. Zumwinkle seems like a safe hold.
  • Maureen Murphy (Providence, $49.9, 33.4 SP, 9 picks) has upped her shots and her shot % this year. 0.167 is high but there’s no reason to think she would fall back even to last year’s 0.119 over the course of the rest of the season. Even if she were to lose five fantasy points off her expected pace, she’d still be in ninth place among skaters for the rest of the season. Still a safe buy.
  • Michaela Pejzlová (Clarkson, $59.8, 29.6 SP, 7 picks): Mother Mary preserve us, a 0.279 shooting %, and only 43 shots. That 43 shot count gives away that Pejzlová’s role is as a playmaker on the Giguère-Gabel line: she has 12 goals and 17 assists, and is clearly happy to shoot only when the situation calls for it. Apparently she’s recently been taken off the Giguère-Gabel line and put on the next line with Cianfarano: that might hurt her performance over the second half of the season, unless Clarkson coach Matt Desrosiers reverses that decision based on Clarkson’s poor performance in the last few games of the first half. Watch closely, be prepared to sell.
  • Elizabeth Giguère (Clarkson, $73, 35.4 SP, 15 picks): Basically no change in shooting % between this year and last year. Safe as houses.
  • Jincy Dunne (OSU, $40, 21.4 SP, 2.8 WP, 14 picks), Patti Marshall (Minnesota, $31.8, 19.5 SP, 0 WP, 3 picks), Ella Shelton (Clarkson, $45.3, 21.1 SP, 0 WP, 6 picks): these three defenders are basically carbon copies of each other — their shot %s are enormously low (Dunne 0.02, Marshall 0.033, Shelton 0.4) and yet basically the same as last year, and their points are very much assist-driven (Dunne 1G 16A, Marshall 1 G 11 A, Shelton 2 G 13 A). It’s fun to realize that you can read a player’s role from a stat like shot % — this shows that, unlike a defender like Megan Keller whose job is to score directly, for Dunne, Marshall and Shelton their role is to blast the puck in low from the blue line specifically to create rebounds. No consistent change in shooting % is really to be expected for any of these players given their role, but they may have occasional upside if some of those blasts from the point go in by accident. All safe holds.
  • Makenna Newkirk (BC, $53.8, 22.3 SP, 0 WP, 7 picks) and Loren Gabel (Clarkson, $71.5, 31.5 SP, 0 WP, 16 picks). Tell me that Newkirk’s shot % is down from .163 to .125 and I go, “BC’s misfiring overall, that seems believable, no change expected.” Tell me that Gabel’s shot % is down a nearly-identical .041, from .163 to .122, and I go “Uh-oh, Gabel could get even better???” Even at her current elevated price, Gabel could be a good buy.
  • Caitrin Lonergan (BC, $51.7, 16.8 SP, 0 WP, 7 picks), Daryl Watts (BC, $56.8, 18.9 SP, 0 WP, 13 picks): What to make of BC this year? Lonergan’s shot % is down from .152 to .103, Watts’ is down from .195 to .106. Both of these are consistent with the misfires BC’s offense is seeing this season, but it’s impossible to tell if the problem is with the team’s systems or just that both these supremely talented players happen to be having a down year at the same time. If Watts was still shooting at the same rate, she’d have 20 goals on the season and would be in ninth place among skaters in our league. Lonergan’s dropoff is not so dramatic, but perhaps even more baffling as by the eye test she’s the best individual skater on the Eagles. Of the two, Watts more clearly has upside potential. She’s not a buy just yet but keep an eye on her.
  • Kirsten Welsh (Robert Morris, $26.2, 13.2 SP, 0 WP, 4 picks) and Justine Reyes (SLU, $33, 15.4 SP, 0 WP, 2 picks): two skaters on teams that, in a less high-profile way, are suffering from BC disease: an offense that was very dangerous last year has gone very quiet this year. Welsh and Reyes have very similar shooting %s at .078 and .073 respectively, and very similar drops of almost 50% from last year, but the way their teams’ seasons are going, it’s hard to recommend buying them.
Natalie Snodgrass, we need to talk.
UConn Athletics
  • Natalie Snodgrass (UConn, $31, 12.3 SP, 0 WP, 7 picks): WTF-alie Snodgrass, more like. We noted at the start of the season that Snodgrass and Maureen Murphy were well set up for a #rivalry #narrative as talented sophomores and U18 National Team alums on Hockey East depth teams. Since then Murphy has soared and Snodgrass, well, hasn’t. But look at Snodgrass’s crazy 0.03 shot %, down from 0.124. What in the world could explain that? That’s not the kind of result you get just from poor chemistry on the forward lines, as seems to be happening to BC, St. Lawrence and Robert Morris. That seems like a perfect storm of things going wrong. Snodgrass surely can’t continue to shoot at that low a rate. If she was shooting at last year’s rate, she’d have 9-10 more goals and be in the top 25 skaters. If she was shooting at Murphy’s rate, she’d have 14 more goals and be ahead of Jesse Eldridge and Alina Mueller. $31 is not a bargain, but I would keep an eye on Snodgrass at the start of the second half and, if she shows any sign of reviving, be ready to swoop in with a buy.

This year’s model

Of course, there are a number of prominent players who didn’t play last year. How sustainable are their shot %s? Here are all the players who didn’t play last year and have been picked by two or more managers:

Shot % this year for players who didn’t play last year

Player Shots this year Shot %
Player Shots this year Shot %
Sophie Shirley 44 0.25
T.T. Cianfarano 49 0.204
Alina Mueller 64 0.188
Sammy Davis 54 0.185
Kelly Pannek 61 0.18
Annie Pankowski 83 0.169
Emily Clark 43 0.14
Megan Keller 65 0.138
Madison Field 66 0.136
Chloé Aurard 70 0.129
Gabbie Hughes 55 0.127
Taylor Heise 61 0.115
Sarah Fillier 43 0.093
Sarah Potomak 58 0.069
Cayla Barnes 52 0.058
Amy Potomak 76 0.053

We won’t go through all the players here, but some thoughts:

  • Cianfarano and Mueller seem at the high end of elite, but are shooting at levels that we’ve seen previously. Look out for some regression, but they could keep this up all season. They’re both risky buys but probably worth holding.
  • Davis is up by a full .1 over her shooting % as a sophomore two years ago, before she redshirted the 17-18 season. This might seem due for regression, but the effect of what hockeyologists call “The Compher Penumbra” can be strong, and she may well be able to sustain this. I’d say hold, maybe even buy.
  • Sophie Shirley was a popular pick at the start of the year but sits around 70th in points per game. The good news is, with that shooting %, she could easily be scoring a lot more heavily. The bad news is, that shooting % could easily regress. It wouldn’t be surprising to see her end the second half with a lot lower shooting %, a lot more shots on goal, and basically the same points record. To my mind, that makes her a sell if you have her.
  • Pannek is a mystery: she was on a line with two other national team players in the Potomaks, she has a high shooting percentage, and yet she’s in 26th place in points per game. If Brad Frost can crack the chemistry on his lines to get Pannek in position for more shots, she could break out in the second half of the season. But time’s running out to crack that chemistry.
Nation’s Capitol Celebrates Independence Day With Fireworks
We were expecting more fireworks from the Potomaks (I’m allowed that pun once a year, and it’s Christmas)
Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
  • Sarah Potomak is on a shooting % of 0.069 and Amy Potomak is on a shooting % of 0.053. You’d think these would have to go up and that Sarah in particular, at a cost of $27.3 that’s been deflated by the games she’s missed, would be a good buy. Maybe! Let’s see how she does in the Minnesota Duluth series the first weekend of 2019.

Cogan’s run

One last table! Here are forwards that no-one’s picked, with a decent number of shots this year so far, and a low shot %. Any of these could surprise in the second half.

Unpicked players with upside?

Player School Cost Shots this year Shot % this year Shot % last year
Player School Cost Shots this year Shot % this year Shot % last year
Sam Cogan Wisconsin $28.30 74 0.027 0.077
Nicole Dunbar UNH $14.80 73 0.068 0.075
Lindsay Agnew BC $15.80 72 0.069 0.074
Lexi Templeman Robert Morris $24.70 71 0.028 0.133
Katelynn Russ Union $16.90 67 0.045 0.133

Of these, you have to fancy Sam Cogan to break out: Wisconsin are scoring steadily, and Cogan’s success rate is a third what it was last year. There’s clearly upside there: keep an eye on her and be prepared to make a move. Dunbar and Agnew are maybe longer shots given that their shot %s are not that much down from the previous season, but Templeman and Russ clearly have upside potential, although Robert Morris are having their own scoring issues this season and Union have scoring issues this season and in fact every season since I think chapter 3 of the book of Genesis. Russ is currently scoring at 0.24 points a game, so would need to improve considerably to be worth buying, but Templeman is on .84 points a game even at her bad shot %, and improving that by .5 points a game would put her in the top 20 skaters nationwide at a very attractive price.

It’s a long shot, but maybe for those of us in the teens and twenties of the fantasy ranking, a long shot is a gamble worth taking.

Hoping to have a couple more articles before the trade deadline, but maybe life will happen. Enjoy backyard rink season, everyone!