Analytics Approach: Kent Johnson
As more data and video becomes available to scouts, understanding how a player drives play through metrics is going to become a major part of how prospects are evaluated for the NHL Draft.
While the Corsi number is the most household name for advanced stats, other metrics that are manually tracked offer a more in-depth look at a player’s isolated impact on puck possession and play driving ability.
For this new series to FCHockey, we will be tracking some puck possession metrics for certain 2021 NHL Draft-eligible prospects to paint a picture of how certain players drive the play. In this first installment, Kent Johnson of the NCAA’s Michigan Wolverines was tracked in his game from December 8, 2020, against Minnesota.
- Player: Kent Johnson (#13)
- Team: Michigan (NCAA)
- FCHockey Rank: 12
- Position: C/LW
- Shoots: Left
- D.O.B.: October 18, 2020
- Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 165 pounds
Generally speaking, Johnson showed good awareness for his defensive responsibilities in his own zone. He was good positionally and tied up his man when the situation called for it. When in possession of the puck, Johnson showed a preference to skate and carry through the neutral zone. Johnson also had a highlight-reel goal in which he went end-to-end, taking the puck out of his own zone, going around a defender at center ice, deking another at the top of the circle, and releasing an accurate, backhand shot, high-glove side.
Below is a glossary of terms used for this tracking effort, which should look familiar to those with some experience in analytics. The focus of this piece is on puck possession and the shot attempts associated with them to better understand how impactful a player is on shot attempts for and against.
- SA For – Shot Attempts For
- SA Against – Shot Attempts Against
- CF% – Percentage of Shot Attempts For (Team and Opponent)
- SC For – Scoring Chances For
- SC Against – Scoring Chances Against
- SCF% – Percentage of Scoring Chances For (Team and Opponent)
- Primary Shot Assist – Pass that leads to a Shot Attempt
- Secondary Shot Assist – Secondary Pass that leads to a Shot Attempt
Johnson’s Puck Possession Metrics
|Controlled Entries||6||Controlled Exit||7|
|Failed Entries||1||Failed Exit||0|
|Entry Rate (%)||75%||Exit Rate (%)||100%|
As shown above, Johnson showed that he is excellent in controlled zone exits and entries. Only one time did he fail to enter the zone with possession and only dumped the puck in once. This heavy puck control means that Johnson is dictating the pace of play. As he was strong at exiting his zone with possession of the puck, he is in turn lowering and preventing shots against while he is on the ice. The forward continued possession through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone consequently led to shot attempts and scoring chances for Michigan.
Summarized below are the team metrics for shot attempts for and against, as well as scoring chances. It was an even split on shot attempts while Johnson was on the ice and Michigan had a negative differential on scoring chances.
Team Shot Attempt Metrics
As stated earlier, the importance of isolating a player’s impact on these shot attempt numbers is important to understanding the ability of the player. In the next table, Johnson’s shot assist totals accounted for 50% of all shot attempts for Michigan when he was on the ice. These shot assist totals are Johnson’s individual impact to Michigan’s shot attempts for while he is on the ice. Considering there are four other players on the ice with him, a 50% contribution to overall shot attempts is fairly substantial.
Johnson’s Individual Shot Attempt Metrics
|Primary Shot Assists||3|
|Secondary Shot Assists||0|
|Individual Shot Attempts||4|
|Individual Shots on Goal||3|
|Player Isolated Contribution to CF||50.0%|
Overall, Johnson looks very capable of driving play on his own and is doing so as a true freshman against significantly older competition. Johnson’s skating ability and confidence with the puck are going to go a long way to helping him develop into an impact player at the NCAA level and above.