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Posted at 11:52 AM ET, 08/26/2011

Statistical analysis: Will Troy Brouwer score 20 goals for the Capitals this season?


After Washington traded this year’s first-round draft pick for right wing Troy Brouwer, General Manager George McPhee said he felt the Capitals got “a power forward who can get us 20 goals a year and play physical."

It seems reasonable. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound forward scored 22 goals during the Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup-winning season in 2009-10, and he potted 17 goals last year.

But those numbers came in some of the most optimal conditions possible.

The year Brouwer reached 22 goals, he tied for the fourth-best shooting percentage in the league at 19 percent. Shooting percentage, which averages 9 percent league wide, carries with it a great deal of "puck luck" and is unlikely to repeat at the extremes. Brouwer saw it drop to 14 percent last season and is probably due for yet another correction.



Brouwer's even-strength shifts started in the offensive zone almost two thirds of the time, and a third of those were with Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, three of the league's best players. Only Vancouver's trio of Alex Burrows and the Sedins saw more of their starts in the offensive zone than the Blackhawks’ quartet.



Despite playing such soft minutes, Brouwer managed only 1.4 even-strength points per 60 minutes, almost half of what you would expect given such talented linemates and starting position.

Brouwer tallied seven goals with the man advantage last season, but Chicago had the NHL's fourth-best power-play unit. The Blackhawks’ power play converted goals at the same rate Washington did when it had the league's best unit in 2009-10, which we also saw was unsustainable.



Of course, that isn't to say a second 20-goal season is unachievable for the newly-acquired Brouwer. He will almost certainly see time on the first and second lines and maintain his 2 minutes of power-play time per game. But assuming he maintains the same shots-per-game pace that he has for the last three years (1.6) and he stays healthy for the season (not a given; he underwent surgery to repair a tear in his right shoulder this spring), he'd need to score on more than 15 percent of his shots on goal to light the lamp 20 times, and that's just not likely.

Neil Greenberg also writes for Russian Machine Never Breaks. Follow him on Twitter: @ngreenberg.

By Neil Greenberg  |  11:52 AM ET, 08/26/2011

Categories:  Statistical analysis

 
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