Why Defensemen Should Focus on Their Wrist Shot

Tyler Fiddler General Hockey Tips Leave a Comment

Whether you like it or not, the game of hockey continues to evolve. From rule changes and switching to advanced stats, it’s important to keep up with the trends and understand how they impact the game.

It’s fun to watch this wave of young NHL defensemen break onto the scene and become impact players for their NHL teams. The evolution of the defenseman over the past 10-20 years is fascinating to dissect.

Back in the day, you had giant defensemen such as Derian Hatcher, Dave Manson, and Chris Pronger, who were big and mean. Now you see the quick, elusive defensemen in the form of Cale Makar, Miro Heiskanen, and Quinn Hughes.

We dissected and broke down the shots from the “veteran” defenseman who, in this case, are 29 years old or older. And the “new age” defenseman who are 25 years and younger.

Stats from the 2019-2020 regular season – Defensemen 25 and under

PlayerWrist ShotSlap ShotSnap ShotSlap Shot %
Cale Makar74172215.0%
Miro Heiskanen96332022.1%
Shea Theodore134571527.7%
Zach Werenski102254514.5%
Rasmus Dahlin6220622.7%
Quinn Hughes6254743.9%

Stats from the 2019-2020 regular season – Defensemen 29 and older

PlayerWrist ShotSlap ShotSnap ShotSlap Shot %
Brent Burns94873839.7%
Roman Josi147782131.7%
Victor Hedman82511334.9%
Shea Weber79791844.8%
John Carlson86683236.5%
Drew Doughty49681950.0%
Duncan Keith4359654.6%

From the charts, you can see the reliance on the wrist/snap shot from the “new age” defenseman is much greater than from the “veteran” defenseman. As the game has evolved and players’ willingness to sacrifice their bodies to block shots has increased, the slap shot has become less effective due to the time it takes to wind up and get the shot off.

When breaking down goals by defensemen, you see most of them rely on their wrist/snap shot to score the majority of their goals.

A few skills defensemen should continue to work on are their ability to walk the blue line, enhance their lateral movement, and find lanes to get their shots on net.

Stats were taken from the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 regular season.

PlayerWrist/Snap Shot GoalsSlap Shot Goals
Cale Makar111
Miro Heiskanen172
Shea Theodore1210
Zach Werenski236
Rasmus Dahlin94
Quinn Hughes35
PlayerWrist/Snap Shot GoalsSlap Shot Goals
Brent Burns1411
Roman Josi226
Victor Hedman156
Shea Weber919
John Carlson1411
Drew Doughty69
Duncan Keith35

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