The 10 Worst Shootout Options In The NHL

Last night, watching the negative reaction to Tom Renney’s selection of Shawn Horcoff for shootout duty, I was struck by how poorly a player’s shootout ability is reflected in his overall offensive totals (Horcoff has, when used, been one of the league’s best shootout options).

So I decided to look at who the worst shootout players in the game (min. 20 shots) have been, and it’s quite a list. Among the skaters on the list are numerous major award winners – guys who have led the league in total goals, total points, and been named the NHL’s most valuable player. The Canucks, Oilers and Maple Leafs are all represented. One of them even shows up on the highlight video above.  Like I said, it’s quite a list.

10. Sam Gagner

Eight goals on 37 attempts – 21.6% success rate.

It was 2007-08, and the Oilers were thrilled with the development of three young stars – Andrew Cogliano, Robert Nilsson, and most of all Sam Gagner. Gagner started his NHL career with a shootout splash, scoring early and often, but after a hot start slowed down, finishing with five shootout goals on 17 attempts. Since then, he’s gone 3-for-20.

9. Martin St. Louis

Six goals on 29 attempts – 20.7% success rate.

Winner of the Hart, Art Ross, Lester B. Pearson and Lady Byng trophies, Martin St. Louis is regarded as one of the league’s finest offensive players. The diminutive sniper recorded 99 points last season, his fifth consecutive year with 80+ points.

8. Stephen Weiss

Six goals on 31 attempts – 19.4% success rate.

The Florida Panthers’ top center has forged a reputation as a two-way player, but has never lived up to the offensive expectations that went along with his draft number and the comparisons to Steve Yzerman before he’d ever played an NHL game. One of the places where he has particularly struggled is on the shootout.

T6. Steven Stamkos

Four goals on 21 attempts – 19.0% success rate.

The name ‘Stamkos’ is synonymous with offensive production, but not in the shootout. The 2010 ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy Winner as the NHL’s most lethal goal scorer went 0-for-7 in 2010-11 and scores on less than one in five of his shootout attempts.

T6. Daniel Sedin

Four goals on 21 attempts – 19.0% success rate.

Last season’s scoring leader is yet another player who struggles once overtime ends. Sedin scored a career-high 41 goals last season and has recorded 29 or more in each of the last five seasons, but he simply hasn’t been able to get it done in the shootout.

5. Michael Ryder

Five goals on 28 attempts – 17.9% success rate.

Michael Ryder has made his name as an offensive option in the NHL, especially on the man advantage. He was a key member of some potent Montreal power plays shortly after the NHL lockout, and everywhere he has played he has been one of his teams’ top options in that situation. In the shootout, however, Ryder has been found wanting.

4. Tim Connolly

Four goals on 23 attempts – 17.4% success rate.

Tim Connolly is one of the best in the league at puck-handling at speed, and in any situation – whether it be on the power play, at even strength, or even while shorthanded. Despite a wide array of moves and undeniable ability, he’s recorded just four goals in nearly two dozen tries in the shootout over his NHL career.

3. Dany Heatley

Four goals on 26 attempts – 15.4% success rate.

The 2002 NHL Rookie of the Year has hit 39+ goals six different times. He’s hit the 50-goal mark twice. His career shooting percentage (15.2%) is well clear of the NHL average and one of the better numbers in recent memory. Yet he’s scored only four shootout goals in six seasons.

T1. Martin Havlat

Three goals on 20 attempts – 15.0% success rate.

Martin Havlat has managed 512 points in 621 career NHL games. 209 of those points have been goals. He’s a superb offensive player whose only problem has been a penchant to get hurt – and yet, he’s one of only two players in league history to score just three shootout goals on at least 20 attempts.

T1. Jeff Carter

Three goals on 20 attempts – 15.0% success rate.

The player who shares the crown with Martin Havlat as the NHL’s worst shootout player is none other than the Columbus Blue Jackets’ primary off-season acquisition, Jeff Carter. The one-time 46-goal scorer has topped 30 in each of the last three seasons, but the goals refuse to come in the shootout.

    • 24% body fat

      there is no defensemen in the nhl that gagner would get that would make us that much better than if gagner was in the line and we didnt have a defensemen. best case scenerio is we get a number 3 dman. we dont need these guys. We need a top 2 so gilbert can play down.

      And with hemsky out, gagner with smythe is now the leading offensive veteran on the team as well as the best 5 x 5 points per 60.

      well a lottery pick and dumba should help next year

      also what the hell does shoot outs have to do with them as a player. I am pretty sure you all were cheering when he was lighting up the shoot outs and pretty sure that we would all take jeff carter on our team even if he sucks at shoot outs. Halls shoot out attempts arent very good either, and as creative as omark is his success rate isnt going to be the same in the nhl where there is more video and more people analysing it than in europe.

  • RexLibris

    Isn’t the best by percentage Loui Eriksson? It’s funny how often offensive production is assumed to carry over to shootout production. If I remember correctly, Gretzky had a pretty mediocre shootout percentage off of penalty shots and such. Perhaps some of that is part of the era he played in where shootouts were not held and thus not practiced.

    The shootout, to me, is the area of the game where skill and creativity have complete reign without having to bow to size or other considerations.

    I remember going to an Oilers skills competition many moons ago and David Oliver (yes, that long ago) won the accuracy competition hitting all the targets on the respective first try. And yet he couldn’t seem to find the net in a game. Pisani used to have a really high shootout percentage as well, seemingly because his eye-hand coordination meant that he could place the puck exactly where he wanted it.

  • Neilio

    Horcoff has a 50% SO average. That average is only going to go down from this point on.

    Someone give me a breakdown of what seasons those were scored in, because the first year of the shootouts, the Oilers set the record, IIRC for shootouts. I think that was the year Horc scored 73 points.

    Meanwhile, your #1 pick is sitting on the bench. Let the kid be the hero. They gave Hall every chance to be the guy last year. Lets see what the kid can do. That story was just waiting to write itself. You’re not going to tell me that he doesn’t have better moves than Horcoff.

    The percentage says Horcoff is an excellent shootout artist. But my gut and my eye say that RNH should be picked over an aging grinder every time.

    • 24% body fat

      the coaches have scouts and video on this. Horcoff (trust me not a horcoff fan) was the right decision.

      How do you know RNH is good. Because he was picked first overall.

      Gagner clearly has better hands and deking than horcoff but does not get the job done. It is not how skilled, or talented you are. Shoot outs are its own skill, and while quick hands and an accurate shot give you a leg up, a lot of it is mental.

  • Neilio

    How do you know RNH is good? Well just keep him on the bench then. He didn’t manage to score a shootout goal in the NHL yet, so obviously he’s dangerously unqualified. Well, he hasn’t been given a chance, but that’s besides the point! /sarcasm

    If you’ve been watching the same Horcoff as I have the last couple of years, you know he is no longer a threat. As soon as I saw #10 heading to center ice, I knew it was over.

  • John Chambers

    You know who’s dope on breakaways? No, not Todd Marchant … Mr. Ryan Jones, that’s who. Every time Jonesy gets sprung he nets it. Which may also account for his shooting %.

    If they trot him out for the shootout, it’s bedtime.*

    *Does the Aaron Asham Go TO SLEEP manoeuver.

  • Actually, it’s amazing to me that anyone would link Horcoff’s shootout work to his best offensive seasons in the same article where we learn that guys like Steven Stamkos and Daniel Sedin suck in the shootout.

    Shootout ability has almost no connection to overall offensive ability.

    • Death Metal Nightmare

      youd never coach in the NHL if you avoided using anyone on your list of dudes who “suck”. id love to see you get run out of town when you bench Stamkos in shootouts in place of Shawn Horcoff (as his numbers slowly decline because he also sucks).


      and how many times has Horcoff even gone since the shootout? a total of like 18 times? real good “sample size”. he went ONCE last year and didnt score. 08-09 he went ONCE and didnt score.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Before reading the article I was expecting Iginla to be on the list. Funny thing about some of these players, if not all of them. They’re really good on breakaways. Maybe too much time to think is a bad thing for the elite snipers?

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    knew this dumb “numbers” post was coming… so obvious. all you need is some anomaly stat for a Cool, Responsible, Mature Kind of Dude-player and youll get the pro-________ post here.

    the reason Horcoff was a lame choice isnt because of his past anomaly numbers (you know, the guys you dont like because they put up high, unsustainable numbers during the season… whoops) – its because his skill set is lamer than hell when you have numerous kids with better skill, more creativity, and who should be getting their feet wet. give them a chance. not a dude with stone hands, the poise of a Squirt who throws the puck up the middle to the other team, and cant create offense at all to save his life.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      What I’d really like to know is who’s creating the chaos and who the vultures are in the shootout.

      Now that would be some valuable information, dude.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    Like any human, NHL players have better and worse days. The coach should choose whoever seems to be on it that game.

    In a serious situation like game seven of a series, if he doesn’t have a feeling, you go with who gets paid, those being typically your best players.

  • ColeRoll

    While I wasn’t upset with the Horcoff pick (I knew he was over 50% career), I seem to remember him being 5 for 5 at one point. Meaning that since then he’s gone what, 4 for 14 (13 before last night). That is not very good, and while I know a larger sample is better, I think it’s also prudent to analyze the more recent trends (ie Gagner in his second year).

  • John Chambers

    The fans complaining about Horcoff selected for shootouts are probably the same fans who love Omark. Sorry, but fancy stickhandling and a few YouTube highlights mean very little if you don’t put the puck in the net. Young flashy players just want to make the night’s highlight reel when they’re more likely to deke themselves out of a goal.

    The younger players have to learn that wins count more than highlights. Just put the puck in the net!

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    It’s funny how in Calgary you can see this disparity with two players both on the top line. Tanguay – their best shoot-out guy last year, while Iggy has struggled big time in the shoot-out.

    I agree with what’s been said in that so much of it is mental.