Is Kyle Okposo really a goal scorer? (A Quick Statistical Look)

Let me get this out of the way first: I really like Kyle Okposo. I've always considered him the first piece of this rebuild and a crucial piece, and in certain ways he has shown some of that skill.

That said, his failure to score (and constant hitting of posts) this year has made me wonder: Has Kyle EVER really been a goal-scorer? The answer seems to be surprising: Kyle Okposo HAS NOT been an efficient goal scorer in any of the last 3 seasons (his only real time with the Islanders, outside of a quick 9 game tryout in 07-08).

The following table should make that clear:

Player Season Even Strength Shooting % (Includes Missed Shots) Average Shot Distance Shots on Goal Missed Net (Includes Posts)
2008-2009 6.2% 31.3 123 32
5.9% 32.1 151
6.4% 27.2
22 5

Table 1: The Shooting numbers at Even Strength for Kyle Okposo each of the last three seasons.

These numbers are only at even strength, but they clearly show the problem: take a look at Okposo's shooting % ever year: it's been low every year! For Comparisons sake, he's been behind Josh Bailey, John Tavares, Matt Moulson (who's amazing at shooting), Blake Comeau and others each of the last three years, and neither Bailey or Comeau are guys you really would think to be better goal scorers than Kyle Okposo. In fact, Kyle's actually shooting his best THIS YEAR!

But wait you say: Kyle is a great goal scorer: with nearly no support at all he scored 18 his first year! Well...see, half of those goals were on the Power Play. And while there's nothing wrong with taking advantage of power plays, think about who else was going to score on the power play in 2008-2009: Mark Streit (10 PPG) and that's about it (aside from Kyle's 9 PPG, the next highest totals were Billy Guerin, Doug Weight, and Trent Hunter, all tied with 5 goals). So Okposo, being the most talented and used forward on the PPG, was going to get a ton of opportunities.

But in the last two years: the Islanders have gained numerous power play weapons: mainly Matt Moulson (8 PPG in 09-10, 9 in 10-11) and John Tavares (11 PPG in 09-10, 9 in 10-11), with P.A. Parentau contributing 8 PPG this year as well. In other words, Okposo isn't going to get as many Power play opportunities this year or in the future on the power play since we have other goal scorers for this easier ice time.

Now it isn't all bad news I'm telling you here: Kyle is getting much better shots this year than in the past, as he's shooting from around 5 feet closer to the net than in previous years (This would probably be the breakaways he's been getting as part of FN-GO at work here). This should result in a higher shooting percentage than the last two years. But it's hard to see it being too much higher.


I have high hopes for Kyle Okposo. I really do, and I really like him as a player in other non-goalscoring capacities. However, the statistics seem to state that he's really not a great or perhaps even good goal scorer at all and that his 18 goal season two years ago was simply the result of a ton of power play opportunities and his 19 goal season last year was simply due to taking a ton of shots - he led the team in even strength shots taken last year and it wasn't even close. With the team getting better players all around him, the amount of shots he takes in the future is likely to go down, and the numbers seem to indicate that he won't be able to maintain the goal scoring rate we'd want of him.

I hope the numbers are wrong here. But perhaps Kyle's ceiling is really as a 20 goal scorer? We might need to confront that possibility.

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