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Number To Know — Oct. 16, 2014

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Today’s Number To Know looks at Elias Lindholm and his future as an NHL goal scorer.

Number To Know

1 — shot on goal this season for Elias Lindholm. For all the things there are to like about Lindholm’s game — defensive responsibility, on-ice vision, an emerging grittiness, three-zone effort — his shot totals are a concern. It would be easy to dismiss if it was an outlier — three games is hardly a big enough sample size to get concerned about anything — but Lindholm’s shot totals last year we're also low.

In 2013-14, the rookie forward had just 70 shots on goal in 58 games, an average of just 1.2 shots per game. So while Lindholm scored at a decent and near-sustainable rate (12.9 percent), the fact that he registered so few shots on goal led to just nine goals. Last season four Hurricanes registered more than 200 shots, so even a dip to 10 percent for Lindholm would be a 20-goal season with that kind of shot volume.

The question is can Lindholm ever become that kind of shot-producing forward? His one full season in the Swedish Elite League (now Swedish Hockey League) raises more red flags: Lindholm was Brynas’ No. 3 scorer with 30 points (11 goals and 19 assists) in 48 games in 2012-13, but he had just 77 shots on goal (seventh among Brynas players, just a 1.6 per game average).

In 2013-14, there were just seven NHL players who played 55-plus games and registered more than 15 goals while averaging 1.6 shots per game or less. None of them hit 20 goals, and all but one had shooting percentage higher than Lindholm’s 12.9 percent, meaning that they got a bit lucky with the number of goals that found the back of the net.

So what should be taken from all this? For one, Carolina needs Lindholm to shoot the puck more often. But there is also a place for players that don't score much but pile up assist numbers (think players like Henrik Sedin and Joe Thornton, seen here), and Lindholm does bring other things to the ice beyond just goals and assists. But if Lindholm's future is as a goal scorer, he needs to start getting the puck on net more.