Curtis
Schwartzkopf
March 16, 2021

Analytics Approach: William Eklund

In this edition of FCHockey’s Analytics Approach, I tracked the puck possession metrics for left wing William Eklund, playing for Djurgardens IF of the SHL.

I tracked three games by Eklund and totaled up his metrics to see what patterns developed as I watched him play.  The games tracked are noted below and all metrics are tabulated at 5-on-5 even strength:

  • February 6, 2021 against Vaxjo
  • February 9, 2021 against Malmo
  • February 16, 2021 against HV71

 

  • Player: William Eklund (#72)
  • Team: Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
  • FCHockey Rank: 5
  • Position: Left Wing
  • Shoots: Left
  • D.O.B.: October 12, 2002
  • Height/Weight: Five-foot-10/176 pounds

It was immediately clear that Eklund was going to do well for puck possession metrics as he showed excellent skating ability and a tendency to hang onto the puck when pressured. Eklund has great speed and looked comfortable playing against men at the professional level in Sweden. There are certainly some indicators that his lack of physical maturity does limit what he can do against men but Eklund does not shy away from contact.

As evidenced in this play below, Eklund keeps his feet moving whether he’s applying pressure in the offensive zone or backchecking.

Below is a glossary of terms used for this tracking effort which should look familiar to those with some experience in analytics. The focus in this article 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.

Glossary

  • 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

Eklund’s puck possession metrics

Controlled Entries 12 Controlled Exit 8
Dump-Ins 0 Uncontrolled Exit 2
Failed Entries 0 Failed Exit 1
Entry Rate (%) 100.0% Exit Rate (%) 72.7%

Eklund was impressive carrying the puck and does an excellent job keeping his feet moving while controlling it. There were several controlled exits and entries that occurred on the same play where Eklund carried the puck entirely through the neutral zone.

This confidence with the puck Eklund has is an excellent trait, especially at this age and playing at his current level of competition. The success rates on these zone entry numbers were extremely impressive, having never failed on a zone entry tracked and only failing to control a zone exit on three of 11 attempts.

While the controlled zone entries are great, Eklund did show a need to improve his decision-making immediately upon entry. Multiple times he skated it in and forced himself into a position where he couldn’t make a play. It is nice to see a player having the confidence to always want to make a play, though Eklund needs to improve his ability to identify opportunities to move the puck before it’s too late.

Eklund’s team shot attempt metrics

SA For 30
SA Against 19
CF % 61.2%
SC For 4
SC Against 2
SCF % 66.7%

Eklund’s team had great success in regards to shot attempts with him on the ice in these 3 games. Overall, Djurgardens had a positive margin of shot attempts and scoring chances for.

Eklund’s individual shot attempt metrics

Primary Shot Assists 7
Individual Shot Attempts 7
Individual Shots on Goal 2
Player Isolated Contribution to CF 46.7%

Of the most interest when tracking a player’s shot attempt numbers is their isolated impact to the overall team metrics. As seen in the table above, Eklund had an impact on nearly half of his team’s shot attempts, with an even amount of shot attempts himself, and primary shot attempt assists.

To give a better view of where Eklund is taking his shots from, InStat Hockey has a shot map for this season to date. All shot attempts in the map below are at 5-on-5 and include shots on goal as well as shot attempts that missed the net or were blocked.

William Eklund NHL Draft
William Eklund Shot Chart (InStat Hockey)

It’s clear that Eklund has a preference to take his shots in high danger areas in the high-to-low slot, with a minority of his shot attempts coming from low-danger areas on the outside. This type of shot map is a direct result of Eklund’s ability to hold onto the puck until he’s in a high-danger area.

See the play below where Eklund has an opportunity to take a shot from further out but toe drags to the middle of the ice for a chance.

This volume of shot attempts in high-danger areas are also an indicator of Eklund’s excellent positioning in the offensive zone to find open areas of ice where he can get off shots.

On his goal below, Eklund makes a controlled zone entry and is immediately pressured by multiple defenders. Eklund continues to keep his feet moving and gets as close to the net as possible before shooting. His poise with the puck and adamance to get into the best possible spot for a shot is something that will help him as he ultimately transitions to the NHL over the next few years.

Eklund is being discussed as a potential 1st overall pick in the 2021 draft for a good reason. He’s a well-rounded forward that can skate well and has the ability to control the play over competition that is much older and stronger than him. As he physically matures, his on-ice impacts are only going to improve and he’s certainly a prospect that I believe deserves the consideration for first overall.

Curtis Schwartzkopf is an engineer by trade with a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. The local rink was basically a second home for Curtis in his youth, both playing and working there as a teenager where he also operated the Zamboni. A lifelong Sabres fan, Curtis became engulfed in Sabres’ prospects several years ago and has since enjoyed scouting them and others that are draft eligible annually. He is a contributor for a Sabres blog called The Charging Buffalo where he puts out a weekly column called The Prospect Notebook and provides in-depth content for their NHL Draft Guide.

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