Making The Grade: Grades For Washington Capitals Forwards For The 2021-22 Season

As we continue to wrap-up our analysis of the Washington Capitals 2021-22 season, we  next take a look at the performance of the Capitals forwards during the regular season and generate resultant grades for each of the forwards for their performance during the 2021-22 regular season.


The analysis will use a wide array of metrics to gauge the performance of each of the Capitals forwards during the regular season, including basic scoring stats, on-ice possession metrics, individual shot metrics and defensive metrics to derive final scores.

[The statistics used in this post are courtesy of Natural Stat TrickHockey Reference, and NoVa Caps’ Advanced Anlytics model. If you’d like to learn more about the statistical terms used in this post, please check out our NHL Analytics Glossary.]

Basic Scoring Stats

The first set of metrics we will look at are the basic stats – goals, assists and points per game. [Click to enlarge].

To no surprise, captain Alex Ovechkin led the way with the most goals (50) and best points per game average (1.17) and was second assists (40) for the season. Evgeny Kuznetsov led the team in assists (54), was second in points per game (0.99) and tied for second in goals with Tom Wilson (24). Nicklas Backstrom took a lot of heat for his performance this season, but still (quietly) finished fourth in points per game average.

Possession Metrics (5v5)

The next graphic summarizes the basic possession metrics for each of the Capitals forwards this season. This includes shot attempts for percentage (CF%), scoring chances for percentages (SCF%), goals for percentages (GF%), expected goals for percentages (xGF%), expected goals for per 60, and for additional context, offensive zone start percentages. [Click to enlarge].

Johan Larsson and Michael Sgarbossa led the team in shot attempts for percentages, with Larsson starting shifts just 30.4 percent of the time in the offensive zone. Larsson also led the team in scoring chances for percentages (57.0%) and expected goals for percentages. The sample size is relatively small (since trade deadline) but those are impressive numbers and a sweet spot for coach Laviolette. Don’t be surprised if Larsson get’s extended. He did really well filling in for Carl Hagelin, but Axel Jonsson-Fjallby is also primed for the spot and will have a lot to say about it unless he is dealt.

Excluding Mike Vecchione, Mike Sgarbossa, Beck Malenstyn and Garrett Pilon, who spent very little time with the Capitals, Connor McMichael (56.5%) turned in the second-best expected goals for percentages (behind Larsson). This is a key indicator in how well a player is generating offensive pressure. Anthony Mantha also did well (53.4%) and Marcus Johansson (55.7%) impressed in his short time with the Capitals.

Individual Shot Metrics (5v5)

The next set of metrics looks at individual possession metrics with an emphasis on shot generation. The stats include shot attempts per game (SH/GM), shooting percentage (SH%), individual high-danger shot attempts per 60 (iHDCF% per 60) and individual expected goals (ixG per 60) at even strength. [Click to enlarge].

Again to no surprise, Alex Ovechkin led all Capitals in shots per game at five-on-five (2.30). Anthony Mantha was second (1.73), Joe Snively was third (1.58) and Connor McMichael was fourth (1.53).

Excluding Garrett Pilon (who took one shot and scored) and Hendrix Lapierre who had a very small sample size, it was Joe Snively who led all Capitals forwards in shooting percentage (15.79%), although his sample size was also relatively small. He was on fire when the wrist injury ended his season. It will be very interesting to see where he picks up in the fall. Conor Sheary was second on the team in shooting percentage (13.59%) followed by Tom Wilson (13.73%) and Alex Ovechkin (13.56%).

Hendrix Lapierre, Joe Snively and Connor McMichael led all Capitals in high-danger shot attempts percentages (iHDCF%) with Garnet Hathaway next on the list.


We have included in the analysis a few key defensive metrics for each of the forwards. The following chart plots each players goals differential (Gf-Ga), goals against per 60 (Ga/60), expected goals against per 60 (xGA/60) and expected goals differential (xGF – xGA) at even strength. [Click to enlarge].

Garnet Hathaway had the team’s best goals differential (+17), followed by Alex Ovechkin (+12), Evgeny Kuznetsov (+10) and Tom Wilson (+9).

Marcus Johansson (3.23) and Nicklas Backstrom (3.11) had the highest goals against per 60, followed by T.J. Oshie (2.88) and Alex Ovechkin (2.82).

Connor McMichael had the best expected goals differential (7.50) while Nicklas Backstrom (-3.89), Evgeny Kuznetsov (-3.43) and Alex Ovechkin (-3.28) had the worst.

Forward Grades

A grade of 1-10 has been calculated for each forward, with 10 being the best score. The grade calculation incorporates the aforementioned statistics, contract value, as well as subjective consideration of other intangibles including team role (scoring, defense, etc.) and overall sample size.

We will take a look at the defensemen and derive grades for each of the blueliners in the next few days.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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18 Responses to Making The Grade: Grades For Washington Capitals Forwards For The 2021-22 Season

  1. Anonymous says:

    Pleasantly surprised by Larsson’s game. Will be interesting to see how the Capitals go at 4LW.

  2. Franky619 says:

    Backstrom is ranked way too high, he has 5 5v5 goals and 12 5v5 passes in 47 games. Compare that to the rest of the league just to see how bad he is. That 9.2 mil salary is a disgrace, just shows how little management knows about evaluating player. On top of that you can’t even rely on him as a shutdown center since he’s so bad on faceoff and can’t skate.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      He was 4th on the team in points per game average.

    • Bob F. says:

      Yes Backy had tuff year, but did you not see that the stat was also based on games played. He and the Capitals have some tuff choices in the very near future. Also, was it just coincidence that the pp picked up shortly after his return!?¡¿

      • Anonymous says:

        Good point re: power play

      • Franky619 says:

        That’s not a coincidencethe power play got better Oshie came back. Most of Backstrom pts on the PP are secondary assists. Oshie and Ovy do the damage on the PP and Backstrom is not the one feeding them. His inability to win face offs has cost them over the years. He’s been overrated for a long time, the pp is where he gets almost half his pts and he gets assists because he has great shooters around him not beacause he is a great playmaker.

        • Anonymous says:

          “Most of Backstrom pts on the PP are secondary assists. Oshie and Ovy do the damage on the PP and Backstrom is not the one feeding them.”

          Backy’s first pass probably created the opp to start the goal scoring play.

    • Marky says:

      I agree with the contract being to0 high for sure and thought so at the time. I don’t accept that a team (or business etc…) is obliged to overpay someone just because fans bought the narrative that he was under paid all those years. In light of the fact that a better center, Bergeron, was getting 6.8 million up until now, this is the worst Bmac contract for sure. Good thing they can ‘escape’ with the LTIR option for a year or more, we will see. I love the player, but that 9.2 is way too much.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Daniel Spongs’ defensive numbers weren’t that bad. He must have been a cancer in the locker room for Caps to want to unload him so desperately.

  4. Anonymous says:

    These stats/grades do not measure 2 important metrics. Namely Value per $AAV and Value per games missed. These measure the true performance of the players by factoring in the impact of the salary cap and the age/brittleness of the player. The larger the AAV and the number of games missed take down the overall value of the player to the team.

    • Anonymous says:

      You obviously didn’t read. 🙄

      • Anonymous says:

        I clearly read it. Show me where it shows the quantitative consideration of e.g. AAV other than a throwaway phrase about “contract value”. In fact, because of our cap situation, player AAV and age (including the term of contract) is probably our biggest impediment to improving the team going forward.

  5. steven says:

    The grades are ok. However here are a few I disagree with…..1) Ovie take away his scoring and he is a 7.5 as his pasing is terrible and his D is average, sorry but hits are nice but dont see where clobbering a guy means much when the other team takes the puck and moves it down ice quickly adn scores; 2) Kuzy a 7.0 because his D is terrible and he goes MIA to much; 3) Johannson gets a 5 as he shiowed up but didnt do much; 4) Larsson another 5.0 as he did the same showed up hurt and then did nothing; 5) finally mantha a 6.0 as he was present but pulled a Kuzy to many times and needs to score more.

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