a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

10/30/12 Can Yakupov Score 30? Part Two

Brandon Bochenski led the KHL last season with 27 goals. Nail Yakupov is currently on pace for 30 goals in just 45 KHL games. This kid looks like a scoring machine.

Over at the Cult of Hockey, Jonathan Willis wrote a very interesting piece about the rate at which Yakupov is shooting relative to some big-name NHL stars like Ovechkin and Malkin. Based on early returns, Yakupov is performing at a very high level. Willis goes on to note that Yakupov's 15.7% shooting percentage is deceptive. In his words:

"When we chart the KHL shooting percentage of our group of [17] NHL'ers so far this season against their career results, we see that it's roughly equivalent to an NHL shooting percentage of 12.5%."

Why is that significant? Yakupov's 8 goals in 12 games has him scoring 0.66 goals per game. Because he has missed 9 games this season he can play up to 45 games with Neftekhimik, and at his current pace he would post 30 in that time. That's huge production for anyone, let alone a rookie, and it doesn't appear to be propped up by a whale of a shooting percentage.

At BehindtheNet, NHLEquivalency for the Russian Super League (precursor to the KHL) was 0.83. If we assume that the number is still the same, then Yakupov would go from roughly 0.66 goals per game in the KHL to 0.55 in the NHL. Over 82 games that's still 45 goals.

It's only been twelve games, but in the KHL Yakupov is still playing against men - some of whom are NHL players. His current NHLE is 45-17-62 in 82 games.

As with Justin Schultz, it's unlikely that Yakupov will continue to score at this high level if only because of the ebb and flow of a long hockey season and the fact that he's playing in a lower league. However, this early performance certainly makes it look more likely that he'll be able to walk in and score.

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