Jakub Voracek. (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
Few players are as heavily scrutinized as stars mired in a scoring slump, and the NHL has its fair share of top-line scorers stuck in the middle of a frustrating stretch of play. Here are five stars who should turn things around soon.
Sometimes, no matter what a star does, the pucks just don’t go in and the assists aren’t piling up. It could be the fault of pucks off of posts, a few bad bounces or simply a string of bad luck.
For five star players, the 2015-16 campaign has been especially unkind. And while players such as Patrick Kane and Tyler Seguin can seem to do no wrong, there are those who can’t seem to catch a break. Here are five star players stuck in a slump who look ready to break out:
5. Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers
Voracek is coming off of his second consecutive career year and blew everyone away with his performance in 2014-15 so there were high hopes for the 26-year-old this season. The points haven’t been coming for Voracek, though, and there’s no doubt it’s getting frustrating. His 22 goals and 81 points were thought to be a sign of things to come, yet through 19 games Voracek is on pace for just four goals and 39 points in 2015-16.
Luckily for the Flyers’ faithful, Voracek should start putting up the points soon. There’s really no other way for him to go. In no full season has Voracek ever had a 5-on-5 on-ice shooting percentage below 7.89 percent, and even that came last season when he set his career high point total. This season’s on-ice shooting percentage? 4 percent even. That should start to turn around and help in the assist column.
When it comes to the goal total, Flyers fans should expect Voracek to see a spike there, too. Currently, Voracek has put 34 shots on goal at 5-on-5 without a single tally. His career low shooting percentage at even strength is 6.47 — again, that came in 2014-15 — and it’s unlikely he sees it stay below that number for an entire year again. At all strengths, Voracek’s 1.54 shooting percentage is the lowest of any player to score at least once. That won’t hold.
4. Rick Nash, New York Rangers
Nash has only two goals this season. By Nov. 21, 2014, Nash had already scored 12. That’s a slight difference, you could say. What’s been behind Nash’s inability to score? Well, he’s been dealing with a back injury that held him out of two games, but there’s also the fact that his 4.3 shooting percentage is 17th worst of all players with more than 40 shots. Nash had a shooting percentage of 13.8 percent in 2014-15.
Nash has been able to contribute eight assists, but that’s not what he’s paid $7.8 million per year to do. He’s a goal scorer first. There has only been four seasons of his 12-year career in which Nash hasn’t eclipsed the 30-goal mark. His pace right now? Nine. You can take it to the bank that he’ll end the season with at least 20, but even that would be seen as an off-year for Nash.
3. Marian Gaborik, Los Angeles Kings
On a yearly basis, it seems the Kings struggle for goal scoring, but few would have expected Gaborik to be on pace for fewer than 10 goals this season. The 33-year-old potted 27 tallies in 2014-15, but hasn’t been able to find any consistency one-quarter of the way through the current campaign. He had a two-point night against the Oilers Nov. 14, but before that he hadn’t notched a point in seven games. He’s been held scoreless in his past two games, too.
But what signs are there to point to a turnaround for Gaborik? Of the nearly 150 players to put at least 40 shots on goal, Gaborik ranks 111th with a 4.9 shooting percentage. His career shooting percentage is 13 percent. This period of futility won’t last, especially given Gaborik’s natural scoring ability.
Gaborik also has no power play markers through 19 games. He has scored 10 or more in seven of his 15 years in the league. Only Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter get more power play time than Gaborik, so those goals are going to start to come.
2. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Crosby’s career points per game total is close to triple of what his current scoring rate is. Think about that for a second. In 646 career games, ‘Sid the Kid’ has notched 305 goals and 863 points for 1.34 points per game. This season, he has three goals and 10 points in 19 games, or .53 points per outing.
Two big reasons for the slump are his on-ice shooting percentage and his personal shooting percentage. This season, while Crosby has been on the ice at 5-on-5, the Penguins are scoring on just 5.6 percent of their shots on goal. For his career, Crosby’s on-ice shooting percentage is 10.7 percent. He’s due to turn it on, it’s just a matter of getting some favorable bounces here and there. The same goes for his personal shooting percentage.
Crosby has scored on 14.2 percent of the shots he has taken since entering the league, but has only been able to pot 5.9 percent of his shots this season. When the pucks start going in for Crosby, the goals are going to come in bunches.
1. Nazem Kadri, Toronto Maple Leafs
Kadri has taken 84 shots this season. The only player with more is Alex Ovechkin, who has taken 92. Ovechkin has struggled, yet his shooting percentage is still a respectable 9.8. Kadri’s, though, is an abysmal 2.38.
Kadri is on pace to take more than 300 shots this season. He could actually could crack the 350-shot plateau if he picks up his pace the slightest bit, a feat which has only been achieved 14 times post-lockout. The worst shooting percentage of any forward to ever crack the 300-shot mark is 4.5 percent, which came when Jason Blake scored just 15 goals on 332 shots for the Maple Leafs in 2007-08. The next lowest is 7.8 percent, which came when Henrik Zetterberg scored 23 times on 309 shots in 2009-10. Suffice to say, Kadri can only go up from here.
It’s a contract year for Kadri, too, who signed a one-year deal with the opportunity to prove his worth to the Maple Leafs. Kadri himself acknowledged that he felt he was doing everything right but just couldn’t find the back of the net. That’s going to change in a big way if he can keep putting pucks on net.