Two nights ago, New York Islanders forward Michael Dal Colle scored his first goal of the season with a nice wrist shot off the rush. Not only was it the first goal for him this season, but it was also the first in over a calendar year for Dal Colle. His last NHL goal came on February 6, 2020.
Forget for a moment that he’s a top-five pick from the 2014 NHL draft for a moment, it’s of no consequence anyway, that kind of goal production isn’t good for any NHL player.
What isn’t helping him is how infrequently he’s getting pucks towards the net.
New York Islanders Michael Dal Colle needs to shoot more
When you look at Michael Dal Colle’s pre-NHL career you’ll see a player with a heck of a shot that frequently got the puck on net. In three of his most productive goal-scoring seasons, Dal Colle averaged well over 1.5 shots on goal per game.
It’s wild to think he was averaging over six shots on net a game in his final year of junior between the Oshawa Generals and Kingston Frontenacs.
In 17 games this year, Dal Colle is averaging just over a shot on goal every three games. He has six shots on goal on the year. Six. I don’t need to tell you how that’s not the best way to get more offense out of Michael Dal Colle.
I know he’s not getting a ton of ice-time out there for the Islanders this year. He’s averaging just over eleven minutes a game. But players with comparable ice-time don’t seem to have issues getting the puck on the net:
*All stats from NaturalStatTrick and at 5on5 except Ozs% which I took from Hockey-Reference and are for all situations.
There isn’t an excuse for Dal Colle to be getting the puck on the net so infrequently at this point of his career. He doesn’t need to be an Alex Ovechkin-level volume shooter, but trending above (or even around) 1.5SOG per game would likely see him at his best.
Is this perhaps an issue of deployment and usage? Sure, it’s possible that the way Barry Trotz is using Dal Colle is limiting his opportunities. But I find that hard to believe based on how some of the other comparable players on the Islanders are finding ways to get the puck on the net.
Dal Colle is a good shooter. He always has been. But for some reason, he’s not getting rubber to the net now that he’s finally arrived in the big leagues. His best year, in terms of SOG/GP at the NHL level, was in 2018-19 with an average of 1.21 shots on net.
If he gets to around 1.5 shots on net per game, and converts shots to goals 8% of the time (his current career conversion rate), we’re looking at ten goals per year from Dal Colle. While that certainly won’t win him any scoring titles, but it will absolutely make him more of a goal threat than he is at the moment.