Those who follow the discussion at Lowetide’s will know that Andrew Cogliano’s shooting percentage, and the likelihood that it would be replicated this season was a hotly debated topic over the course of the summer (clearly, we’re all sad, sad people). Cogliano scored 18 goals on 98 shots last season, good for an 18.4% shooting percentage. I’m not quite sure the scope of the shooting percentage database at hockey-reference.com, in that I’m unsure when the NHL started tracking this stuff, but it appears to go as far back as at least 1968.
I ran a query of their database for rookie seasons in which the player shot at least 15.0% on at least 98 shots in his rookie season. It’s a pretty stunningly small list – just 119 guys on that list in about 40 years. What’s more, if you treat 1995-96 as the start of the dead puck era, only 15 guys have done it in 12 years. Save percentages have risen dramatically since the early 1980′s; looking at the more recent data is probably a better indicator of how unique Cogliano’s rookie year was.
Entering tonight’s game (in which he scored again), Cogliano was shooting 18.6% on 57 shots, which pro-rates to (obviously) 18.6% on 126 shots. Which of the fifteen on the rookie list ended up on shooting at least 15% on at least 126 shots the following season? Mark Parrish, Petr Prucha and Paul Stastny are the only ones who managed to do so. Parrish followed it up with a 13.8% in year three and is currently shooting 17.5% for his career. Prucha shot 7.9% in year three but has enjoyed a bounceback year this season, shooting 15.8% so far, albeit in 13 games. Stastny is presently in year three and is shooting 11.1% (it’s been a tough year in Colorado).
You can cast this a different way: at least 15% on at least 157 shots in first two NHL seasons. Cogliano sits in a tie for fourth on this list, with Miro Satana. It’s a pretty impressive list of guys – while many of them do see their shooting percentages drop over their career, from eyeballing it, 13-14% still looks pretty sustainable for many of them.
This is, of course, somewhat superficial, because there’s no breakdown into ES/PP/PK – it’s going to be easier to maintain this sort of shooting percentage with a lot of PP shots. Still though, it seems to me that, on the evidence available, there’s an argument that Cogliano is a “true” high percentage shooter – the only guys above him with a substantial enough career to date to make the active leaderboard is Alex Tanguay, who sits at the top.
While I’m not yet sold that Cogliano will be a 18%, or even a 15%, shooter, given the way that the careers of the players who experienced similar starts have gone, at this point it seems to me to be more likely than not that, when all is said and done, he’ll be amongst the shooting percentage leaders of his era. While I’m hesitant to read too much into this because of the context lost when things aren’t broken down into ES/PP/PK, and I’m certainly open to arguments that his particular blend of shooting percentage might not be repeatable, he’s been so far above the norm to date that it really does seem likely to be that he’s got something of a knack for getting to the right spots and finishing when he gets there. It’s a real shame that there weren’t any dissenting voices at Lowetide’s site when he was getting buried this summer.