SAVANNAH, Ga. – There is not much of a hotter start in hockey than what Patrick Guay has done with the Savannah Ghost Pirates. Six games into the season, he is already sitting at 11 points with five goals and six assists. In fact, he has not left a game without a point yet and is currently averaging 1.8 points per game, which puts him in a tie for the 4th most points in the ECHL so far this year.
BOOM!… Pat Guay with his third goal of the season, cutting the lead 2-1 pic.twitter.com/I2uKkJtIrZ
— Savannah Ghost Pirates (@SavGhostPirates) October 29, 2022
So let’s dive into the analytics and take a look at what makes this QMJHL alum and Vegas Golden Knights draft pick so hot to start the year.
When Guay was assigned to Savannah by the Henderson Silver Knights on October 12th, I immediately began to dig into his scouting reports. Truth be told, Guay was a player I had been keeping my eye on since the NHL draft as a potential player we could see down here in Savannah.
In 2020 Bill Placzek’s scouting report described Guay as an undersized player, but a good stick handler with a solid offensive touch who doesn’t quit. It went on to mention that the area he needed the most improvement in was his skating, especially his edging.
Following that, in 2022 another scouting report, this one from Lehoux, praised his strong lateral agility and how much improved his skating had become over the years while also touting him as a skilled sniper.
If we look further into his statistics from his time in juniors with the QMJHL, Guay spent time with two separate teams from 2018-2022. From 2018-2021 he was with the team that drafted him in the Sherbrooke Phoenix before getting traded to the Charlottetown Islanders to finish off his 2020-21 year. Throughout those three years, Guay remained a consistent goal scorer, averaging right over 17 goals a year with his peak coming in the 2019-20 season, where he scored 21 goals. Through those years he also added 50 assists and totaled 102 points.
The impressive thing here is that in Guay’s final year in QMJHL (21-22), he managed to outscore his previous three years all combined in both goals scored and total points, racking up a beyond impressive 55 goals, 49 assists, and 104 total points.
Now, what exactly would be the root cause of this sudden increase in performance you may ask? Well, there is no one cause for that improvement as it works out to be a bit of a mixed bag in the form of factors. 2021-22 was Guay’s first full year with the Islanders, some of his seasons had been affected by Covid protocols, and his shooting percentage ballooned in his final year of juniors.
Typically Guay’s shooting percentage from 2018-2021 averaged at 13.8% which, for a prolific goal scorer, is right around where you would normally be. In his 2021-22 campaign his shooting percentage ballooned to 18.3% as more of his shots were finding the back of the net. It is also worth mentioning he took almost double his previous peak in shots on goal with 301 (his previous peak being in 2019-20 with 156).
Now, let’s take what we learned from his time in the QMJHL and apply that to his start for Savannah this year in the ECHL. Guay has been playing on the top line the past three games with Alex Swetlikoff and Brent Pedersen. Prior to that, he was on the second line with Vincent Marleau and Daniel D’amato. Those top six minutes have given Guay an opportunity to thrive in Rick Bennett’s system. Prior to the beginning of the season, I analyzed Guay’s shooting percentage and realized that even if he regressed back to the mean (somewhere between 13-15%) he would still have a stellar season scoring goals this year.
Not only has it not regressed as of now, but Guay’s shooting percentage is also currently at an all-time high once more. Granted, we are still very early into the season at six games, and regression will still probably come at some point. Guay is currently on pace for a 60-goal, 60-assist season if he stays with Savannah the entire year. On top of that, his pace currently has him at 204 shots on goal this year with a monster of a 29.4% shooting percentage.
The second period has been completed. We remain up on Greenville, 3-0.
— Savannah Ghost Pirates (@SavGhostPirates) November 6, 2022
Now, let’s take a second and assume his regression to the mean comes sooner rather than later. If we put into this hypothetical that he ends the year at the lower end of the spectrum, that would put his end-of-year shooting percentage closer to 13%. That still equals out to a 27-28 goal pace for his rookie professional campaign. Then, on the flip side, if he sits at the higher end of that spectrum and has a yearly shooting percentage of around 17%, you are looking at 35 goals. Both options are ridiculously good for a rookie in professional hockey if they were strictly a goal scorer alone.
Guay is not just a goal scorer, however, and we would be remiss to not mention his playmaking ability. Through every level of hockey Guay has played, he not only scores himself but has an extensive resume of setting up his linemates with scoring opportunities. So far this year, Guay has been showing that ability once again, and Savannah has been able to reap the benefits of Guay consistently opening up the offense on the ice.
Editor’s note: The Savannah Ghost Pirates’ tweet about Guay’s “sixth goal” was a typo that was later corrected. The goal was his fifth.
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