Shooting percentage (% of a player’s shots that enter the net) is obviously not the most important stat in hockey. More important are goals, assists, and penalty minutes as they relate to stupid/unnecessary penalties. Shot percentage can, however, offer insight into hockey sense and shot accuracy. Let’s face it, some guys just have a way of putting the puck in the net that others don’t. Shooting percentage is one way in which hockey fans can evaluate which players just load up and rifle the shot at the net every chance they get (not a bad strategy) versus those who choose their shots more carefully and set up plays more effectively. It’s not a 100% indication of player intelligence and skill, but it is a solid way to delineate a sniper or gifted playmaker.
This is a list of the ten active NHL players with the highest shooting percentages. They are not the top 10 by any means, because the top 10 is saturated with players who played one or two games and scored one goal. Jose Theodore, Evgeni Nabokov and Martin Brodeur would be on that top 10 list because due to empty-netters, they have 100%, 50% and 33% respectively. So here is the methodology: only players with over 100 goals will be considered on this list. Keep in mind that these are also all active players. The list of all-time shooting percentage leaders would look completely different and anyone who was an adult in the 90s or 2000s would be more confused than usual. All goal, shot and percentage information has been gathered from sportingcharts.com and is accurate as of March 23rd, 2014. Forgive any changes that occur between the completion of this article and its publication.
10 Mike Ribeiro – Goals: 201, Shots: 1363, 14.75%
The first few years of Mike Ribeiro’s career were all over the place, having been sent up and sent back down to the juniors by the Canadiens until he became a regular on the roster in the 2003-2004 season. Since then, he’s been regularly putting up decent numbers and has yet to finish a full season with less than 50 points. Very respectable for a guy whose durability has been in question. That said, it’s a bit undeniable that Ribeiro is on the finesse side of the game. His shooting percentage has been all over the place in his years in the NHL. In 2007, he recorded a shooting percentage over 25% will the Stars, but the next four years were down in the low teens, only to rise back to just under 21% in 2012.
9 Thomas Vanek – Goals: 275, Shots: 1852, 14.85%
Austrian Thomas Vanek is reliable and has yet to attain less than 40 points in a season. Generally his assists and goals are close and his seasonal shooting percentage is usually between 13.5% and 18%, which is not bad at all. He has been jumping around quite a bit this year, having been traded to the Islanders back in October and more recently having been traded to the Canadiens. Back in February, he turned down a very sizable extension with the Islanders that would have been 7 years and $50 million. There is currently some debate in Montreal over how to proceed in the future with Vanek, but he seems to be faring well there and his play is still looking as stable as ever at age 30, showing no signs of diminishing stats.
8 Milan Lucic – Goals: 118, Shots: 793, 14.88%
Milan Lucic is one of the most exciting overall hockey players in the NHL today. He can score and he can set up plays when necessary. But apart from goals, assists and all that non-brutality stuff: he's a scrappy, physical player who doesn't shy away from throwing down and dropping the shoulder on another player. With regards to his goals and shooting percentage, he is usually up around 17% or 18% but a couple of seasons under 10% were not so kind to his career stat.
7 Sidney Crosby – Goals: 272, Shots: 1826, 14.9%
Sidney Crosby is the man who has been at the helm for Team Canada’s two most recent gold medal wins. On top of that, he’s possibly the best player in the NHL today. Now all of his critics will shout: “But Chris, you arrogant jerk, Alexander Ovechkin is sooooo much better!” Don’t get me wrong, Ovy is great, but how many times has he hoisted the Stanley Cup and how many times has he won OLYMPIC GOLD? The machine formerly known as Sid the Kid, now possibly Sid the Young Adult, won a Stanley Cup, appeared in another Cup finals, and has won gold in both Sochi and Vancouver. On top of that, just under 15% of his shots enter the net. It's a solid stat and what we have to remember about Sid is that while he scores a respectable numbers of goals yearly, his assists are generally much higher and his line-mates reap the benefits.
“Oh wait, Chris,” say the now slightly quieter haters, “I think Sidney Crosby is a whining, complaining, wimpy girl.” First of all, that’s sexist. Second, he’s a wimp because he sustains a couple of concussions and takes time off from the game so that he isn’t drooling and wearing water-wings later in life? Give me a break. He needed some time to mature, but as of today, Crosby is arguably the most complete player and leader in the league. I anticipate saying nice things about Sid will get some negative things said about me. I look forward to the death threats in the comments section.
6 Teemu Selanne – Goals: 684, Shots: 4528, 15.11%
The Finnish Flash holds just about every offensive record possible for the Anaheim Ducks’ franchise, along with NHL records for rookie goals, points and most goals by a Finnish player and finally, the most goals ever in Olympic competition. Selanne has had one of the greatest NHL careers of the last two decades and even at age 43, he is still steady; posting 22 points already this season. He’s also had a steadily high shooting percentage throughout most seasons in his career. We can’t say enough great things about Teemu Selanne, the guy is a playmaker, a born leader, a brilliant goal scorer and among the best players of his generation.
5 Jonathan Toews – Goals: 195, Shots: 1287, 15.15%
Chicago’s captain is one of the most complete players in the league right now, and has been for the last several years, just in case you’ve missed hockey since 2007. He’s the youngest captain in the history of the league and is also the youngest member of the Triple Gold Club (gold at Olympics + World Championship + Stanley Cup win). Throughout his career, he has steadily posted a shooting percentage in the mid-teens and has consistently scored over 20 goals per season. He’s already at 66 points this season. Bottom line: there’s a pile of reasons the Blackhawks have won two Stanley Cups with him as captain, with his shooting percentage and awesome play making ability being just two of them.
4 Curtis Glencross – Goals: 119, Shots: 785, 15.16%
Glencross puts up decent numbers every year and consistently has had a decent shooting percentage for most seasons in his career, but recently he has been missing a lot of time due to injuries. In multiple seasons, he missed time due to knee injuries because of knee on knee hits; two of which ended his seasons. The knee injuries can’t be blamed on him by any means because it’s difficult to avoid a sudden knee on knee incident. He’s a sharp player overall and when he puts the puck on net, he’s accurate, but his effectiveness in the future will depend on his knee health.
3 Brenden Morrow – Goals: 260, Shots: 1636, 15.89%
Having started his career back in 1999 with the Dallas Stars, there is little question that Brenden Morrow, while still effective overall, is clearly getting old. He's dealt with some injury trouble and his point totals have gone down a bit because of it. That said, he’s still a solid playmaker and knows how to make the puck find the net. So far this season, he has 11 goals and 1 assists – not half bad for a man who is in his 15th season playing professional hockey. His shooting percentage this season is among the highest of his career, at just under 23%.
2 Steven Stamkos – Goals: 229, Shots: 1306, 17.53%
I don’t want to sound like Don Cherry, but it’s good to see an awesome talent from the Greater Toronto Area at second on this list. Steven Stamkos is a two-time winner of the Rocket Richard Trophy and anyone who denies his ability to pick a corner hasn’t been watching the game properly. The only two times Stamkos has had a season with less than 40 goals were in his rookie season, and more recently during the 2012/2013 season which, as we all remember, was a Bettman year (shortened due to paper-pushing bureaucrats).
1 Alex Tanguay - Goals: 253, Shots: 1350, 18.74%
Alex Tanguay has been known in recent years for his play making ability and his constantly high shooting percentage. Not only is he a solid playmaker, as he's on the best at setting up his line-mates, but he can also snipe. I can’t imagine what these stats would look like if he shot the puck more, as some teammates have commented in the past that he was often reluctant to shoot and sometimes cost himself scoring opportunities. No matter what you say about him, Alex Tanguay is the guy who scored the Stanley Cup winner for the Avalanche back in ’01. For our purposes here, however, he is easily one of the NHL’s best playmakers and most prolific snipers.