It's not a secret to anyone. I dislike shots on goal as a statistic, especially when it comes to individual performance. Note, I don't think it's totally irrelevant, just overstated. My hypothesis is that shots on goal will pretty closely reflect time on ice across all players, from the good to the not so good (goons like Barch do not get included). So I decided to do an off the cuff analysis of shots on goal per minute of ice time for certain Devils for this season. I picked Clarkson, Gionta, Carter, Kovalchuk, Zajac, Elias and Henrique. I think it's a decent distribution of different types of players for purposes of a message board post.
Here are the numbers, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a shot per minute on ice.
You will notice that the difference between Gionta, Carter, Kovalchuk, Zajac, Elias, Henrique are noticeable, but there isn't a huge divergence. Clarkson is the outlier, but of course, there's an explanation. He plays on the powerplay, but not on the penalty kill. Kovalchuk, Elias and Zajac get significant powerplay and penalty kill time. Gionta and Carter, honestly, I don't know for sure. I looked around quickly for even strength/pk/pp icetime per player, but could not find anything, although I believe Gionta gets significant PK time, but neither a lot of PP time.
What this tells me is that shots on goal are similar to points per game in basketball. Any basketball team, whether it's the Heat or the Bobcats,
are going to have at least one or two players that will put up respectable points per game. Basically, someone has to score the points, same as someone has to get the shots in hockey. In hockey, how many shots you’re getting relative to everyone else is more a product of icetime and type of icetime than anything else.
Now, we hear a lot about the shot differential for the Devils as a team this year, a lot more shots for as opposed to shots against. Just a guess on my part, and I don't know if it can be measured, but the Devils style of play is designed to put as many shots on goal as possible with less regard for seeking out high percentage shots. This is especially the case on the powerplay this year, as opposed to the Oates powerplay. Ultimately, the way I see it, is that not all shots by all teams and players are created equal when it comes to the "purpose" of a shot (just taking a shot for its own sake with less regard for scoring opportunity) or situation in which a shot is taken. This is why I think shooting percentage is overrated as well. Ultimately, you have to watch the games.
Conclusion,I still think the best measure of a forward is how many goals a forward creates, either goals scored or "meaningful" assists. I know some people try to calculate quality scoring chances, but it's too imprecise to mean anything so far as I'm concerned.