Unless he magically finds a way to change his luck, Edmonton Oilers forward Tobias Rieder will hold the record for the most shots in a season by a forward without scoring a goal. Tough times for a player who notched 113 goals in 34 games in German under-16 hockey.
Edmonton brought Rieder in to be a secondary-scoring winger last summer, but with zero goals on 87 shots this season, nothing has gone right. His struggles were amplified last month when Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson had some choice words about Rieder, who won’t be brought back by Edmonton next season as he heads towards unrestricted free agency. It’s not like Rieder hasn’t had opportunities: the majority of his ice time has been spent alongside 100-point star Leon Draisaitl, yet Reider still has a goose egg in the goal column.
But Rieder isn’t the only one who can’t find twine this season. Dallas Stars winger Valeri Nichushkin’s career has been a disaster since Dallas made him a first-round pick in 2013 (10th overall), and he’s failed to become a high-end goal scorer the Stars expected. After spending two seasons in the KHL, Nichushkin is still looking for his first NHL goal since March 4, 2016, but with 65 shots in 57 games this season and nothing to show for it, his offensive value has been limited.
This got us wondering: what are some of the other notable single-season goal droughts? Riley Sheahan needed 106 shots in 2016-17 before he scored, while Duncan Keith’s 138th shot last season finally resulted in a goal. But what about the guys who haven’t been so lucky? Let’s take a look:
Gilles Marotte, 154 shots in 1967-68
Blackhawks fans of a certain vintage will never forget the day Chicago traded Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield for Marotte, Pit Martin and Jack Norris in 1967. Marotte had a respectable career with the Hawks, but nobody in the trade was worth losing Esposito, a Hockey Hall of Fame member who won nearly every award possible during the 1970s. For a defenseman, Marotte wasn’t afraid to shoot the puck, registering 200-plus shots four times in his career and at least 100 in all but two of his 13 seasons. Marotte’s first campaign in Chicago was a forgettable one, however, as he failed to score on 154 attempts to set the record as the player with the most shots in a season without a goal. Marotte would post some of his best offensive seasons over the next couple of seasons, but he still holds this dubious distinction.
Jacques Laperriere, 109 shots in 1966-67
Laperriere looked to be among the best defensemen in the NHL in 1966-67 and was in pursuit of his third Stanley Cup in as many years with the Montreal Canadiens. Never known to be a high-caliber offensive contributor – his highest shooting percentage was 7.9 percent during his seven-goal campaign in 1971-72 – Laperriere couldn’t find the back of the net on 109 opportunities in a season where the Canadiens fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup final. Norris Trophy candidates these days are typically among the league-leaders in points by a defenseman, but back in the ’60s, Laperriere’s shutdown style was the way to go. He took home the top defenseman title in 1965-66. Lapierre would finish his career with just 40 goals in 692 games and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1987, but it’s still hard to believe he couldn’t score despite all the chances he had in ’66-67.
Niclas Jensen, 107 shots in 2017-18
Jensen hasn’t scored in 18 games since joining the Washington Capitals in February, but nothing could have been as frustrating as his 2017-18 season with Detroit. Jensen took 107 shots in 81 games and somehow couldn’t buy himself a goal in what was a disappointing season for the Red Wings as a group. Jensen’s shot count is the second-highest among defensemen who didn’t score in a season over the past 30 years and the most of any active players, regardless of position, beating Ben Hutton by four shots last season. Funny enough, Jensen scored in just his second game ever for the United States at the World Championships – playing against Nicklas Jensen and Team Denmark – and scored a pair of goals just two games into the 2018-19 season against the Toronto Maple Leafs in October.
Craig Adams, 84 shots in 2009-10
Before Rieder recently passed the mark, Adams previously held the record for the most shots without a goal by a forward over the past 30 years. Adams had an impressive 84 shots for a depth forward in 2009-10, but failed to score on any of them. Of course, he’d go on to score two goals in 13 playoff games and was generally an effective role player, but his regular season shot count was the fourth-best of his 14-year career, so it was surprising to see him not score at all. Pittsburgh seemed to love him during his six-season run with the club, but Adams, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, couldn’t find the net during his first full season with the team.
Victor Mete, 63 shots in 2018-19
Mete made the Habs out of training camp last season at 19 and fit in right away with Shea Weber as a defense partner. Fast forward 118 games into his career, and Mete is still chasing his first career goal. Mete has gone 106 shots without a goal (63 this season). While he has never been much of a goal-scorer, Mete did pot one in a stint with the AHL’s Laval Rocket earlier this season and had 15 goals in his final year with the OHL’s London Knights in 2016-17. His time will come, especially with Weber at his side, but he’s still on the hunt for now.