The 50-goal plateau is not an easy mark to reach in the NHL. Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point was one of five players to reach that mark last season. He solidified himself as one of the best finishers in the league, finishing fifth with 51 goals in 82 games. His production continues to fly under the radar. He makes a case for one of the best centres in the NHL right now.
Analyzing Brayden Point’s Goal-Scoring Touch
In the offensive zone, Tampa Bay uses two players in front of the net for deflections, rebounds, and screens. Point makes a living at the doorstep. He’s a nightmare for defencemen to clear out. Moreover, 31% of his goals came from in front of the net last season. There’s no doubt Point has a knack for the net when studying him.
Point’s Elite Puck Touches
The crease is the most chaotic area in the rink, where players have the shortest time to make decisions with the puck. However, Point can make defenders and goaltenders look like they’re in slow motion. He does this through his lightning-quick puck touches and minimal stickhandling. Point’s puck control in high-danger areas is second to none in the NHL.
Additionally, Point possesses the art of deception. He’s able to trick defenders’ minds into mistakes in loose scrums. Next, he can change his angle of attack on a dime. He either opens his hips, pulls the puck across his body, or spins his body for a quick shot. Point’s ability to read the pressure before it arrives displays his elite sense of the game.
The Bumper Position
In modern hockey terminology, the “bumper” is the player lurking in the slot on the powerplay. Point plays this role for Tampa Bay’s top unit. The unit operated at 25.36%, third best in the entire league last season. The most common play is Nikita Kucherov using his deceptive passing skill set to fake a shot and slide the puck right onto Point’s stick in the slot.
Brayden Point registered 25% of his goals from the bumper at all strengths. He is one of the best off-puck powerplay guys in the league because of his ability to time the play and present a target for the passer. In addition, his 19 powerplay goals ranked fourth in the NHL. Tampa Bay makes opposing teams pay with this deadly combination.
Off The Rush
Another great attribute of Point’s game is his skating. He’s one of the fastest players in today’s game and uses his edges to weave through defenders. Roughly 25% of Point’s goals came off the rush last year. He’s most famous for his ability to dart past defenders and place the puck upstairs over the goalie’s shoulder. Otherwise, he carries the puck through the middle, kicks it out, and then drives the back post for a tap-in.
Breaking Down The Impressive Distribution
Players at the top of the league lead in goals usually score on empty nets more. However, Point registered a single empty-net goal last season, scoring 50 non-empty net goals. Furthermore, Point’s 29 5v5 goals ranked fifth in the entire league. He’s far from a powerplay merchant.
The 50-goal plateau has been met only 24 times in the last 15 years. Point’s teammate Steven Stamkos scored over 50 goals twice, including a 60-goal campaign in 2011-12. Alex Ovechkin has reached over 50 goals in eight different seasons. Another up-and-coming goal scorer is Mikko Rantanen, who notched 55 goals in 2023.
Point’s Goal Distribution
In front: 16 (31%)
Bumper: 13 (25%)
Rush: 13 (25%)
Slot: 5 (10%)
One-timer: 2 (4%)
Deflection: 1 (2%)
Empty Net: 1 (2%)
Looking Ahead To Next Season
Point tallied 41 goals in 79 games back in 2018-19. He finally took his game to the next level in 2023, reaching superstar status. Based on his goal-scoring split, it’s more than fair to expect at least 40 goals from Point next season. However, don’t be surprised if he reaches 50 goals for the second time in his career.
Main Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports