NHL Fantasy Hockey: Primary Assists

Today I decided to take a deeper look at an advanced statistic, primary assists, to see if I could determine whether there are any/many players out there who consistently generate primary assists or others who have a high percentage of secondary assists. A primary assist is generally what sets up a goal, therefore, the theory is that primary assists are more indicative of true play making skill. Under this assumption, players with more primary assists or a higher percentage of primary assists are more likely to sustain their point production through assists.

First lets take a look at the leaders (top-100) in primary assists.

# Player Name Team GP G A FirstA %FirstA
1 MCDAVID, CONNOR Edmonton 47 14 39 24 62%
2 MALKIN, EVGENI Pittsburgh 44 21 29 21 72%
3 VORACEK, JAKUB Philadelphia 46 11 28 21 75%
4 GRANLUND, MIKAEL Minnesota 44 10 27 20 74%
5 KANE, PATRICK Chicago 47 14 33 19 58%
6 GETZLAF, RYAN Anaheim 41 6 28 19 68%
7 SEGUIN, TYLER Dallas 47 16 28 19 68%
8 GIROUX, CLAUDE Philadelphia 46 10 28 18 64%
9 BACKSTROM, NICKLAS Washington 45 13 31 18 58%
10 RADULOV, ALEXANDER Montreal 44 10 22 18 82%
11 PAVELSKI, JOE San Jose 46 16 24 17 71%
12 STEPAN, DEREK NY Rangers 46 12 24 17 71%
13 MARNER, MITCH Toronto 43 10 26 17 65%
14 BENN, JAMIE Dallas 43 11 27 17 63%
15 KESSEL, PHIL Pittsburgh 44 13 28 16 57%
16 MCDONAGH, RYAN NY Rangers 45 2 26 16 62%
17 REINHART, SAM Buffalo 44 9 20 16 80%
18 FILPPULA, VALTTERI Tampa Bay 45 7 22 16 73%
19 WHEELER, BLAKE Winnipeg 48 14 23 16 70%
20 HEDMAN, VICTOR Tampa Bay 44 7 31 16 52%
21 DRAISAITL, LEON Edmonton 47 17 23 16 70%
22 COYLE, CHARLIE Minnesota 44 13 23 15 65%
23 KUZNETSOV, EVGENY Washington 45 6 26 15 58%
24 BURNS, BRENT San Jose 46 19 27 15 56%
25 KRUG, TOREY Boston 48 5 24 15 63%
26 ZUCCARELLO, MATS NY Rangers 46 8 28 15 54%
27 NIEDERREITER, NINO Minnesota 44 14 17 15 88%
28 CROSBY, SIDNEY Pittsburgh 38 27 22 15 68%
29 KUCHEROV, NIKITA Tampa Bay 40 17 25 15 60%
30 ZETTERBERG, HENRIK Detroit 45 9 22 14 64%
31 STAAL, ERIC Minnesota 44 16 24 14 58%
32 STEEN, ALEXANDER St. Louis 40 8 22 14 64%
33 GAUDREAU, JOHNNY Calgary 38 10 19 14 74%
34 BAILEY, JOSH NY Islanders 43 6 23 14 61%
35 PANARIN, ARTEMI Chicago 47 17 26 14 54%
36 CARLSON, JOHN Washington 43 5 20 14 70%
37 ATKINSON, CAM Columbus 44 21 22 14 64%
38 TARASENKO, VLADIMIR St. Louis 46 20 25 14 56%
39 MARCHAND, BRAD Boston 48 16 28 13 46%
40 KREJCI, DAVID Boston 48 10 20 13 65%
41 HAMILTON, DOUGIE Calgary 47 7 22 13 59%
42 FISHER, MIKE Nashville 41 12 15 13 87%
43 NYLANDER, WILLIAM Toronto 42 9 20 13 65%
44 VRBATA, RADIM Arizona 45 9 19 13 68%
45 TKACHUK, MATTHEW Calgary 44 8 21 13 62%
46 MARKOV, ANDREI Montreal 31 2 19 13 68%
47 KEITH, DUNCAN Chicago 47 2 29 13 45%
48 PERRY, COREY Anaheim 48 8 24 13 54%
49 HOFFMAN, MIKE Ottawa 39 14 17 13 76%
50 JOHANSEN, RYAN Nashville 45 7 23 13 57%
51 LINDHOLM, ELIAS Carolina 33 5 13 13 100%
52 BACKLUND, MIKAEL Calgary 48 14 19 13 68%
53 KARLSSON, ERIK Ottawa 43 7 30 13 43%
54 MACKINNON, NATHAN Colorado 43 11 20 13 65%
55 WENNBERG, ALEXANDER Columbus 44 8 29 13 45%
56 HALL, TAYLOR New Jersey 36 11 18 12 67%
57 MATTHEWS, AUSTON Toronto 43 22 16 12 75%
58 HAYES, KEVIN NY Rangers 46 13 22 12 55%
59 BYFUGLIEN, DUSTIN Winnipeg 48 7 21 12 57%
60 FABBRI, ROBBY St. Louis 45 11 17 12 71%
61 ORLOV, DMITRY Washington 45 2 19 12 63%
62 KESLER, RYAN Anaheim 48 18 20 12 60%
63 HORVAT, BO Vancouver 45 12 17 12 71%
64 BARRIE, TYSON Colorado 42 3 20 12 60%
65 FOLIGNO, NICK Columbus 42 15 20 12 60%
66 CARTER, JEFF Los Angeles 45 23 17 12 71%
67 BARKOV, ALEKSANDER Florida 36 9 18 12 67%
68 VANEK, THOMAS Detroit 34 12 19 12 63%
69 EHLERS, NIKOLAJ Winnipeg 48 14 25 12 48%
70 JAGR, JAROMIR Florida 47 8 20 12 60%
71 MILLER, J.T. NY Rangers 46 15 18 12 67%
72 STASTNY, PAUL St. Louis 45 11 15 12 80%
73 PROVOROV, IVAN Philadelphia 46 3 17 12 71%
74 THORNTON, JOE San Jose 46 3 25 12 48%
75 SAAD, BRANDON Columbus 44 15 19 12 63%
76 LAINE, PATRIK Winnipeg 42 21 16 11 69%
77 GAGNER, SAM Columbus 43 14 15 11 73%
78 SILFVERBERG, JAKOB Anaheim 48 13 16 11 69%
79 SKINNER, JEFF Carolina 42 17 18 11 61%
80 STONE, MARK Ottawa 42 15 19 11 58%
81 RISTOLAINEN, RASMUS Buffalo 44 3 24 11 46%
82 HARTNELL, SCOTT Columbus 44 11 15 11 73%
83 YANDLE, KEITH Florida 47 3 20 11 55%
84 O_REILLY, RYAN Buffalo 34 8 17 11 65%
85 BOZAK, TYLER Toronto 40 11 18 11 61%
86 KOPITAR, ANZE Los Angeles 39 4 20 11 55%
87 TOEWS, JONATHAN Chicago 38 6 16 11 69%
88 RIELLY, MORGAN Toronto 42 1 16 11 69%
89 OVECHKIN, ALEX Washington 45 21 20 11 55%
90 PALMIERI, KYLE New Jersey 44 10 17 11 65%
91 ZUCKER, JASON Minnesota 44 12 18 11 61%
92 ZAJAC, TRAVIS New Jersey 45 9 19 11 58%
93 LUCIC, MILAN Edmonton 47 10 17 11 65%
94 PARAYKO, COLTON St. Louis 46 2 19 10 53%
95 OSHIE, TJ Washington 37 16 14 10 71%
96 KREIDER, CHRIS NY Rangers 40 18 16 10 63%
97 CIZIKAS, CASEY NY Islanders 37 4 13 10 77%
98 HENRIQUE, ADAM New Jersey 46 11 13 10 77%
99 COUTURE, LOGAN San Jose 45 15 13 10 77%
100 SCHULTZ, JUSTIN Pittsburgh 44 7 23 10 43%

Some notables and surprises include the following:

#4 Mikael Granlund – Granlund is tied for 16th in total assists but has the 4th highest number of primary assists. He’s only 69% owned despite this stat, 37 points on the season, and a +23 rating. Looks like a very strong and sustainable playmaker based on these stats.

#10 Alex Radulov – Not the biggest surprise in the world given he spends a lot of time on the powerplay in a shooting and passing position, but a surprise nonetheless compared to unknown expectations for the Russian forward before the season had even started. Keep riding the Montreal sniper/playmaker.

#17 Sam Reinhart – Of his 20 assists on the year, 16 are primary helpers. This 80% rate shows the Sabres’ youngster is a reliable playmaker who has been unlucky to only receive 4 secondary assists so far on the year. Buffalo is an up-and-coming team with tons of young talent. Therefore, there should only be room for improvement here this season and in years to come. Keeper league managers be aware, Reinhart is only 32% owned but has the potential to deserve higher ownership when Buffalo matures just a little bit more and becomes a more potent offensive team.

#27 Nino Niederreiter – The Minnesota theme continues. Among NHL players with 10 or more assists so far in 2016-2017, Niederreiter has an 88% primary assist rate, good for 3rd highest in this defined grouping. He has 15 primary helpers on 17 total assists. He only plays about 15 minutes per game but he plays those minutes on the first line with Coyle and Staal and also sees time on the second powerplay unit. He is 36% owned and appears to be more of a playmaker and thus valued fantasy asset than his reputation holds. Did I mention he has 14 goals on the year too, and a +18 rating?

#34 Josh Bailey – Bailey is quietly having a very strong season with 23 assists so far, good for a tie for 33rd in the NHL. He plays alongside two scorers in Anders Lee and John Tavares which is a favourable advantage. Unfortunately he only has 6 goals on 93 shots, but his 18:57 of average time on ice indicates the Isles forward has plenty of opportunity to get on the score sheet on a nightly basis. Surprisingly, he’s only 8% owned and should deserve a little more love for his strong playmaking this year despite a disappointing year for the team. If the Islanders turn things around, things could get even better for Bailey owners.

#51 Elias Lindholm – 13th assists on the year and they are all primary assists? I can’t believe that this isn’t a mistake. The Hurricanes have known for a couple of years that their 5th overall pick in 2013 had a high ceiling of potential. As Carolina continues to mature and improve, Lindholm should see a boost in assist totals as his linemates become more adept scorers. Keep an eye on the 22 year old.

#53 Erik Karlsson and #55 Alex Wennberg – These two rank 5th and 6th across the entire NHL in total assists but are significantly lower on the primary assists list. The quick explanation for this is the fact that these two players are quarterbacks on the powerplay and in general spend way more time with the puck on their stick (especially in the offensive zone) than other players on their team. As a result, assists of all types pile up. We know that Karlsson is always dependable for piling on the points – only time will tell if Wennberg’s production is sustainable at such a high rate (0.64 assists per game).

#107 Mark Scheifele – Winnipeg’s top offensive player didn’t make the top 100 list because he only has 9 primary assists on a total of 23 helpers. This puts him at a first assist percentage of 39% which is the lowest among the top-50 assist leaders in the NHL. He also has 20 goals on just 96 shots for a unsustainably high shooting percentage of 21%. If you believe in mean-reversion, it appears as though Scheifele’s production is not sustainable. Perhaps owners can consider selling high here (he’s still undeniably talented, it’s just a question of whether he can keep producing at the rate he has generated points so far this season)?

#113 Rick Nash – Seriously? The renowned goal scorer, Rick Nash, has 90% primary assists on the year? He has missed around 10 games due to injury but has 10 assists in 34 games played, 9 of which are primary helpers. A healthy second half of the season and a little bit of luck could lead to greater production of assists from the big Ranger.

#343 Kevin Shattenkirk – On the same mindset as Scheifele, I noted that Shattenkirk’s first assist percentage is only 19%. He has 21 assists on the year, but only 4 of them are primary helpers. He is an offensive defenseman and plays good minutes on the powerplay as the Blues’ 1st unit quarterback, and will therefore continue getting assists of all types when Tarasenko buries PPGs, but perhaps he’s getting a little lucky this year. This luck could dry up and leave Shattenkirk owners disappointed as the season ages. In fact, only two players with 10 or more assists on the year have a lower first assist percentage (Paul Martin at 15% with 2 primary assists vs. 13 total and Mark Streit at 18% with 2 primary assists vs. 11 total).

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s