Professional hockey players can shoot the puck at a level most of us can’t even dream about.

I remember being perplexed by it as a little kid every time I went to an NHL game and watched warm-ups – guys barely flinch and the puck comes rocketing off their blades at speeds I couldn’t fathom. If you’ve seen Jarome Iginla or Dany Heatley casually snap a puck and hit the glass, you know what I’m talking about.

How did that not shatter?

On the other hand, you see kids and rec players pouring their whole bodies into wrist shots, taking five seconds to release them after pulling the puck from wayyy behind their bodies (using the full heel to toe, of course), only to flutter one goal.

But the pros? Snap. Bar down.

…Well, not all the pros.

Playing in the NHL with a weak shot is a rarity for obvious reasons, but there are a few players in the NHL that make you go “… Well that wasn’t very impressive” after watching them shoot.

Yes, their shots are still better than the rest of ours. And yes, they’re so talented and good at so many other things that they’re worthy of our praise. But hey, it’s okay to admit that not every NHLer is phenomenal at everything.

I threw this out there on twitter the other day and got a lot of interesting responses. Here are the names that came up the most – I can’t vouch for all the names on the list, but most make some sense to me.

Below, I take a look at two names in particular, and explain how the two “worst” shooters survive in the NHL.

7) Jay Pandolfo
6) Dan Paille
 5) Tomas Kaberle
4) Jason Blake
3) Brendan Morrison 

Kaberle and Blake, I can see for sure (when judged against NHL standards).

And now, here are the two men who I think have the least dangerous shots in the NHL, with explanation on how they survive.

2) Scott Gomez

Gomez has an accurate shot, so he’s not “bad” per se, but sometimes it looks like he’s using a nerf stick. And, he seems to know he doesn’t have a bomb, which he demonstrates by being hesitant to pull the trigger.

He survives with two main skills: he’s got insane vision/playmaking abilities. If you knew your shot wasn’t beating anyone clean, you’d have been looking to dish your whole life too.

Second, he’s elusive as all hell and skates like a waterbug – few people can change direction like him or creep around the ice with so much stealth.

He’s a good player. But a bomb, he does not have.

1) And last, all around terrific player, worthy of much respect and honour….Ryan Smyth. Everytime he shoots I can’t help but wonder what flex stick he uses – 300,000, maybe? XXXXXXXXstiff?

Smyth survives by scoring 101% of his goals from within ten feet of the net, banging in rebounds, tipping in pucks and just generally playing how we think “a good ‘ol Canadian boy” should. He also uses no curve (seriously, like, no curve), so that explains a lot.

Any team would be glad to have Smyth. But would a coach set him up on the half-wall? C’mon. Not one that wants to keep his job.

Comments (22)

  1. Honourable mention: Luke Schenn. His shot is a disgrace.

  2. And yet Smytty still scores with the odd clapper from the rush.

    But I guess that’d probably be mostly the goalie’s fault.

  3. I guess this begs the question, who has the best shot in the game? Specific video examples always appreciated. I think it is safe to say based on your picture choice that Iggy is in the top 3

  4. As a Habs fan, I want to mention Hal Gill. Such a big guy you would think his shot would be powerful…but it really isn’t.
    I imagine part of that is his stick…I was a similar style of defenseman (in house league youth hockey), albeit 8 inches shorter and quite a bit lighter. I played with a stick much longer than most of my teammates, as it increased my reach. However, I did find that I had a much better shot with a shorter one that I used on the few occasions I played as a forward.

  5. Going the other way… The Finnish MacInnis has to be top 10.

  6. Hal Gill, that’s an interesting vote….I could see it – not the most athletic guy. Chara has a bomb at that size cause of the opposite – he’s very athletic.

  7. Mark Eduard Vlasic on the Sharks – one fo the (if not THE) best young shutdown-D’s in the league….. which is a good thing because he has absolutely no shot.

  8. Oh, and meanwhile in Switzerland, Jeff Tambellini and his wicked snapper showcase the fact that a nasty shot alone won’t keep you in the NHL. Even when you’re dad is a GM.

  9. Alex Steen, horrid shot, not accurate, and takes him about 5 minutes to get his wrister off..

    • Alex Steen? He’s actually got a pretty good shot. He misses the net more than he should, but he’s got a decent shot with a fairly quick release most of the time.

  10. I love the big oaf, but Gill can’t even clear the zone hard. It kills me on the PK.

    Last night on the Habs TSN broadcast they talked about Ryan Smyth’s stick which is apparently all wood and maxed out to the biggest allowable size so that he can deflect pucks better. He’s more concerned with scoring on other people’s shots than his own.

  11. I loved the way he played, but Jason Smith probably had the worst shot I have ever seen; it would have had trouble ripping wet toilet paper. It was parabolic; would rise off the stick and then be headed downwards when it hit the net

  12. I think Sean Avery had the lowest shooting percentage last year among forwards who took a regular shift. Three goals, 2.2% shooting percentage, 137 shots over an entire season. At least one of those goals was a tap in and not a shot. That is why he no longer plays a regular shift.

    The problem with Gomez and why he should not get a regular shift is that he shoots whenever he can. In his last season with the Rangers, he pretty much doomed them by
    shooting 271 times and connecting on less than 6% of his shots. An average center would have scored 16 more goals than Gomez. He should have been fined $1000 for every shot.

    Last season Gomez scored on less than 5% of his shots. He had the least production of any top first or second line center in the NHL. Many third line centers contributed more offense than Gomez. In his last 86 games he has seven goals. Half the goons in the NHL have better shooting percentages than him.

  13. I think Henrik Sedin deserves a mention here. Not just because most of his shots are mostly half-hearted, along the ice backhanders, but because his weak shot is especially evident playing alongside his sniper brother.

  14. From a different angle…attended a Flyers practice yesterday. Only 5 or 6 rows of bleachers, so you are essentially right at the glass. And yeah, these guys don’t seem to hardly move anything and you swear the puck should break the glass when it hits, the shots are so hard. How do they do that JB?

    • They’re strong enough to flex their sticks. If you can load up the stick, it does all the work and the puck comes off incredibly quickly while you appear to barely twitch. Yes, I’m talking about wrist shots here. Seriously. Watch a beer league guy with his 100 or 110 flex stick, it stays straight as an arrow throughout the shot. The shot comes from the slow movement of their muscles rather than the incredibly quick released spring of the stick.

  15. Random Ryan Smyth fact of the day: He scored 150 points in 25 games for the Banff Blazers in 1990

  16. I second the Hal Gill nomination… he has other qualities but his shot is terrible. And his slapper is worst that his wrister… Week, inaccurate, never gets through traffic.

    Pure best shot in the NHL (not most powerful, though it’s plenty fast) for me is Kovalchuk, easily. Best natural goal scorer in the league.

  17. Most under-rated shot in the league – Marc Andre Bergeron of the Lightning. Although, this season people are starting to take notice. His slapper is like a bazooka. Watch his wind-up, I swear his shoulders are double-jointed.

  18. I think a great example of Smyth’s shot is in this clip:

    If you watch at 0:55, the puck just settles for Smyth but his slapshot still ends up looking like a kid spinning a coin on net.

  19. Henrik sedin has a brutal shot

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