We all know that Al Iafrate does not like empty net goals. The story goes that Iafrate was in clear but elected to shoot the puck in the corner rather than into the open net and when asked about it afterwards was quoted as saying:
"empty net goals are for [sissies/pansies/wussies/losers/and some other terms that are more likely to be the actual quote but I will refrain from posting so I don't get banned]"
(does anyone have the actual video of this game and the interview?)
In any case I also think that in general empty net goals are cheap. Sure there are exceptions and some empty net goals are actually pretty impressive and certainly a goalie scoring an empty net goal is almost always cool (and I certainly wouldn't call Ron Hextall for example a "sissy" or whatever) and also empty net goals may be good indicators that a coach trusts a player to protect a lead at the end of the game but in general I do not think they are a good indicator of offensive performance at all.
So I always remove empty net goals from player stats in my (offensive) evaluations. The NHL website makes this easy in their stats page by having a column for empty net goals in their goals by type report (NHL.com - Stats).
But what about assists on empty net goals? Not every hockey player does the honorable thing like Brett Hull and make sure other players don't get cheap empty net assists. I think these in general are even cheaper than empty net goals and I would expect them to be more common than empty net goals just like assists in general.
Despite these issues I was unaware of empty net assists being tracked anywhere and so it was definitely a goal of mine to ensure I tracked empty net assists when gathering boxscore data. As I continue to work on that project recently I stumbled upon the goal finder from Hockey Reference and noticed it allows you to explicitly search for empty net goals which shows not only the goal scorer but also who assisted on the goal among other information (Goal Finder | Hockey-Reference.com). While the data only goes back to the 1979-1980 season and there is some missing data (for example Mario Lemieux scored 69 goals in 1995-1996 but the Hockey Reference goal finder only has 68 goals for him that season) it is still a good basis for starting on Iafrate points.
Iafrate points are simply points excluding empty net points named in honor of Al Iafrate for his principled stance. Let us refer to empty net points as simply cheap points for the purposes this forum. Please note that I did not attempt to correct for any issues in actually granting cheap points (there is data where a goalie is actually present for a empty net goal and I know from going through the NHL statsapi that there are goals with no goalie but that are still not marked as empty net goals)
There were 6707 empty net goals recorded from 1979-1980 to 2017-2018 and 2270 players had a cheap point in that time frame
Highest career cheap points 1979-1980 to 2017-2018
I cut it off at 20 because it simply got too unwieldy to go further. Some real good players are sadly on this list. Yet another record for Wayne Gretzky which he has a large margin of victory but there likely isn't much pride in this one. Some active players have probably already moved up as this table does not account for cheap points from the current season.
cheap points player 85 Wayne Gretzky 60 Marian Hossa 56 Jarome Iginla 55 Joe Thornton 53 Eric Staal 51 Ron Francis 50 Jaromir Jagr 48 Mark Messier 45 Mark Recchi 44 Mario Lemieux 42 Teemu Selanne 41 Bryan Trottier 40 Patrice Bergeron 40 Sidney Crosby 40 Steve Yzerman 39 Keith Tkachuk 39 Ray Bourque 38 Alex Ovechkin 37 Daniel Alfredsson 37 Henrik Zetterberg 36 Brendan Shanahan 36 Mike Modano 35 Blake Wheeler 35 David Backes 35 Henrik Sedin 35 Pavel Datsyuk 34 Gary Roberts 34 Ilya Kovalchuk 34 Jari Kurri 34 Nicklas Backstrom 34 Zach Parise 33 Doug Gilmour 33 Mike Bossy 33 Patrick Kane 33 Rick Nash 33 Rod Brind'Amour 32 David Legwand 32 Evgeni Malkin 32 Patrick Marleau 31 Anze Kopitar 31 Jonathan Toews 31 Max Pacioretty 31 Pavel Bure 31 Rick Tocchet 31 Ryan Kesler 30 Brad Marchand 30 Craig Conroy 30 Daniel Sedin 30 Olli Jokinen 29 Guy Carbonneau 29 John Tavares 29 Jordan Staal 29 Justin Williams 29 Mike Ridley 29 Shane Doan 29 Theoren Fleury 29 Tomas Plekanec 28 Doug Weight 28 Dustin Brown 28 Jeremy Roenick 28 Joe Pavelski 28 Kelly Miller 28 Mikko Koivu 28 Patrik Elias 27 Alexandre Burrows 27 Brent Sutter 27 Joe Sakic 27 Martin St. Louis 27 Ray Whitney 27 Sergei Fedorov 27 Trevor Linden 26 Al Macinnis 26 Antoine Vermette 26 Chris Kelly 26 Jamie Langenbrunner 26 Keith Primeau 26 Michael Grabner 26 Michal Handzus 26 Mike Fisher 26 Milan Lucic 26 Peter Stastny 26 Radim Vrbata 26 Scott Stevens 26 Todd Marchant 26 Zdeno Chara 25 Brandon Dubinsky 25 Brian Rolston 25 Chris Pronger 25 Dale Hunter 25 Mats Sundin 25 Nicklas Lidstrom 25 Patrick Sharp 25 Saku Koivu 25 Tony Amonte 25 Vincent Damphousse 25 Vincent Lecavalier 24 Alex Kovalev 24 David Krejci 24 Dino Ciccarelli 24 Jason Spezza 24 Marian Gaborik 24 Paul Coffey 24 Paul Kariya 23 Adam Oates 23 Ed Olczyk 23 Jeff Carter 23 Loui Eriksson 23 P.J. Axelsson 23 Paul Stastny 23 Tom Fitzgerald 23 Troy Murray 22 Alex Steen 22 Dave Poulin 22 Daymond Langkow 22 Glenn Anderson 22 Logan Couture 22 Miroslav Satan 22 Murray Craven 22 Rob Niedermayer 21 Andrew Cogliano 21 Chris Chelios 21 Corey Perry 21 Drew Doughty 21 John Maclean 21 Mike Gartner 21 Radek Bonk 21 Rick Middleton 21 Steve Kasper 21 Steve Larmer 20 Brett Hull 20 Brian Gionta 20 Claude Lemieux 20 Denis Savard 20 Duncan Keith 20 Jamie Benn 20 Jason Pominville 20 Joel Ward 20 Jussi Jokinen 20 Kelly Buchberger 20 Michael Peca 20 Mike Grier 20 Peter Forsberg 20 Ryan Callahan 20 Ryan O'Reilly 20 Tyler Seguin 20 Valtteri Filppula
Highest career cheap assists 1979-1980 to 2017-2018
Gretzky is probably happy to let Ron Francis have this record. 1415 cheap goals were left unassisted.
cheap assists player 31 Ron Francis 29 Wayne Gretzky 28 Jaromir Jagr 28 Joe Thornton 26 Mark Recchi 26 Patrice Bergeron 24 Jarome Iginla 24 Nicklas Backstrom 23 Craig Conroy 23 Eric Staal 23 Henrik Zetterberg 23 Mark Messier 23 Pavel Datsyuk 23 Sidney Crosby 22 Paul Coffey 22 Ray Bourque 21 Chris Pronger 21 Rod Brind'Amour 20 Anze Kopitar 20 Jari Kurri 20 Marian Hossa 19 Al Macinnis 19 David Legwand 19 Drew Doughty 19 Duncan Keith 19 Henrik Sedin 19 Joe Pavelski 19 Ryan Kesler 19 Zdeno Chara 18 Adam Oates 18 Chris Chelios 18 Dale Hunter 18 Jonathan Toews 18 Michal Handzus 18 Mike Bossy 18 Mike Modano 18 Mikko Koivu 18 Sergei Fedorov 18 Steve Yzerman 17 Brandon Dubinsky 17 Brendan Shanahan 17 Bryan Trottier 17 Daniel Sedin 17 Doug Gilmour 17 Loui Eriksson 17 Mike Fisher 17 Olli Jokinen 17 Ryan Suter 17 Saku Koivu 17 Scott Niedermayer 17 Scott Stevens 17 Teppo Numminen 16 Blake Wheeler 16 Brent Sutter 16 David Krejci 16 Jordan Staal 16 Keith Tkachuk 16 Ray Whitney 16 Ryan O'Reilly 16 Teemu Selanne 16 Thomas Steen 16 Todd Marchant 15 Alex Kovalev 15 Brent Seabrook 15 Jason Spezza 15 Jeremy Roenick 15 Kelly Miller 15 Murray Craven 15 Nicklas Lidstrom 15 P.J. Axelsson 15 Patrick Kane 15 Tomas Plekanec 15 Vincent Lecavalier
Highest cheap points in a season 1979-1980 to 2017-2018
I cut it off at the 20 seasons of 8 or more cheap points as there were 40 seasons of 7! Jaromir Jagr is the only player with double digit cheap points in a season (from 1979-1980 to 2017-2018).
player season cheap points Jaromir Jagr 2000-2001 10 Wayne Gretzky 1986-1987 9 Mike Ridley 1992-1993 9 Keith Tkachuk 1996-1997 9 Mario Lemieux 1996-1997 9 Pavel Bure 1999-2000 9 Jamie Benn 2015-2016 9 Eric Staal 2016-2017 9 Craig Ramsay 1979-1980 8 Wayne Gretzky 1988-1989 8 Theo Fleury 1997-1998 8 Mike Modano 2002-2003 8 Alex Ovechkin 2008-2009 8 Eric Staal 2009-2010 8 Olli Jokinen 2011-2012 8 Joe Thornton 2014-2015 8 Jean-Gabriel Pageau 2015-2016 8 Patrick Kane 2016-2017 8 Sidney Crosby 2017-2018 8 Vincent Trocheck 2017-2018 8
Season by season cheap points leaders 1979-1980 to 2017-2018
Iafrate point leader different from scoring leader
season player(s) cheap points 1979-1980 Craig Ramsey 8 1980-1981 Bryan Trottier
7 1981-1982 Mike Bossy 7 1982-1983 Paul Coffey
5 1983-1984 Wayne Gretzky 7 1984-1985 Dwight Foster 6 1985-1986 Murray Craven
6 1986-1987 Wayne Gretzky 9 1987-1988 Denis Savard 6 1988-1989 Wayne Gretzky 8 1989-1990 Brent Sutter 7 1990-1991 Ray Bourque 7 1991-1992 Mike Ridley
7 1992-1993 Mike Ridley 9 1993-1994 Brendan Shanahan 6 1994-1995 Dino Ciccarelli
4 1995-1996 Keith Tkachuk 7 1996-1997 Keith Tkachuk
9 1997-1998 Theo Fleury 8 1998-1999 Alexei Yashin
5 1999-2000 Pavel Bure 9 2000-2001 Jaromir Jagr 10 2001-2002 Bryan Smolinski 6 2002-2003 Mike Modano 8 2003-2004 Jason Blake
6 2005-2006 Michal Handzus
5 2006-2007 Jarome Iginla 7 2007-2008 Evgeni Malkin 6 2008-2009 Alex Ovechkin 8 2009-2010 Eric Staal 8 2010-2011 Nicklas Backstrom
7 2011-2012 Olli Jokinen 8 2012-2013 Blake Wheeler 5 2013-2014 Andrew Cogliano
6 2014-2015 Joe Thronton 8 2015-2016 Jamie Benn 9 2016-2017 Eric Staal 9 2017-2018 Sidney Crosby
The highest scoring player who never scored a cheap point from 1979-1980 to 2017-2018 is Reijo Ruotsalainen with 344 wholesome Iafrate points
- 1979-1980 (was tied): Wayne Gretzky 134 (Marcel Dionne 132)
- 1994-1995 (was tied): Eric Lindros 68 and Jaromir Jagr 68
- 2000-2001: Joe Sakic 116 (Jaromir Jagr 111)
- 2002-2003: Markus Naslund 104 and Peter Forsberg 104
- 2014-2015: Jamie Benn 84 and John Tavares 84
Technically speaking Guy Chouinard and Steve Shutt scored more points in the time frame without scoring a cheap point but since their careers predate 1979-1980 I cannot give them such an honor without confirming
Al Iafrate himself unfortunately scored 3 cheap points
I bet the goal is an error in scorer transcription and I can only imagine what happened in the locker room after the game after the other two empty net goals were scored
date team opponent goal first assist second assist period time situation 12/15/87 toronto maple leafs washington capitals ed olczyk al iafrate tom fergus 3rd 19:51 ev 2/18/92 washington capitals san jose sharks al iafrate dale hunter kelly miller 3rd 19:25 ev 12/5/92 washington capitals new york islanders mike ridley dale hunter al iafrate 3rd 19:52 ev
No excuse for these cheap points
I know some of you will come at me with the talk that cheap points are valuable for ensuring the win. Well these guys don't even have that going for them. These are the empty net goals (not at weird times discussed below) that didn't win the game in regulation (four empty net goals were actually scored in games where the player's team lost but they were all at weird times):
Empty net goals due to brilliant coaching (brought to you by Patrick Roy)
date team opponent location result goal first assist second assist period time 12/30/88 minnesota north stars st louis blues road tie marc habscheid neal broten brian maclellan 3rd 19:27 11/24/08 new york islanders montreal canadiens road win (so) bill guerin 3rd 15:13 4/4/10 vancouver canucks minnesota wild home win (ot) alexander edler 3rd 19:05
Coaches having been pulling the goalie earlier in recent seasons but I remember that Patrick Roy was on another level at doing this and even though it worked sometimes it seemed to backfire just as much and I never understood why (maybe he was still traumatized by a game where he felt he should have been pulled earlier ). So here are the empty net goals at really weird times (not in the last 5 minutes of the third):
Some are likely own goals and I'd imagine the overtime ones were due to pulling the goalie to try and win for playoff positioning but yeah...
date team opponent result goal first assist second assist period time 11/28/79 new york islanders colorado rockies loss billy smith 3rd 4:50 11/29/87 new york rangers new york islanders win david shaw 2nd 8:59 3/27/88 new jersey devils new york rangers win pat conacher randy velischek claude loiselle 3rd 14:43 4/1/89 st louis blues toronto maple leafs win (ot) gino cavallini bernie federko greg paslawski ot 4:10 4/2/89 pittsburgh penguins philadelphia flyers win (ot) mario lemieux troy loney ot 3:38 4/16/92 winnipeg jets (1979) san jose sharks win ed olczyk 2nd 19:46 4/12/93 washington capitals montreal canadiens win (ot) mike ridley bob carpenter kevin hatcher ot 4:12 11/2/93 detroit red wings boston bruins win paul coffey 2nd 3:30 12/4/97 new jersey devils pittsburgh penguins win bob carpenter kevin dean 3rd 8:44 11/25/98 toronto maple leafs vancouver canucks win dmitry yushkevich 3rd 10:58 12/29/98 montreal canadiens edmonton oilers win mark recchi 1st 5:56 1/2/99 ottawa senators new jersey devils win damian rhodes 1st 8:14 2/15/00 new jersey devils philadelphia flyers win martin brodeur 3rd 9:43 4/7/00 edmonton oilers vancouver canucks win rem murray ot 4:01 3/25/03 columbus blue jackets los angeles kings win (ot) andrew cassels ot 4:12 12/31/05 mighty ducks of anaheim st louis blues win (so) vitaly vishnevski 2nd 7:27 4/15/06 nashville predators phoenix coyotes win chris mason 3rd 10:47 1/16/08 chicago blackhawks st louis blues win patrick kane robert lang brent seabrook 3rd 14:38 3/21/09 phoenix coyotes vancouver canucks win viktor tikhonov 2nd 10:30 1/12/14 edmonton oilers chicago blackhawks loss boyd gordon 2nd 11:29 3/29/14 buffalo sabres tampa bay lightning loss (ot) cory conacher 3rd 8:14 11/28/14 vancouver canucks columbus blue jackets win brad richardson nick bonino 3rd 14:38 12/20/14 vancouver canucks calgary flames win (ot) yannick weber 1st 4:40 2/19/15 washington capitals winnipeg jets (2011) win troy brouwer 3rd 13:33 2/24/15 nashville predators colorado avalanche win eric nystrom roman josi 3rd 8:28 3/17/15 st louis blues calgary flames win david backes 3rd 14:25 1/26/16 san jose sharks colorado avalanche win paul martin brent burns 3rd 8:21 2/4/16 florida panthers detroit red wings win vincent trocheck reilly smith jussi jokinen 3rd 14:19 2/21/16 minnesota wild chicago blackhawks win erik haula 3rd 13:49 2/21/16 vancouver canucks colorado avalanche win chris tanev henrik sedin daniel sedin 3rd 11:37 3/22/16 dallas stars chicago blackhawks win cody eakin jamie benn 3rd 13:48 3/26/16 minnesota wild colorado avalanche win mikael granlund erik haula 3rd 11:06 4/9/16 ottawa senators boston bruins win jean-gabriel pageau 3rd 11:33 4/9/16 ottawa senators boston bruins win zack smith jean-gabriel pageau 3rd 14:29 10/15/16 calgary flames vancouver canucks loss (so) troy brouwer 1st 9:14 12/13/16 dallas stars anaheim ducks win radek faksa jordie benn 3rd 13:57 1/5/17 nashville predators tampa bay lightning win colton sissons calle jarnkrok 3rd 14:02 1/14/17 st louis blues san jose sharks win alex steen jaden schwartz kevin shattenkirk 3rd 14:37 2/9/17 ottawa senators dallas stars win chris kelly 1st 17:55
Wouldn't a shooter tutor be better than a goalie who lets in empty net goals?
This is either scorer transcription error or perhaps they are now starting to call it a goal against the goalie and an empty net goal when the goalie is out of the net but hasn't made it to the bench but it must suck to be a goalie that lets in empty net goals.
date team opponent goal first assist second assist goalie period time 10/14/16 edmonton oilers calgary flames leon draisaitl milan lucic darnell nurse brian elliott 3rd 18:40 11/30/16 new york islanders pittsburgh penguins nikolai kulemin casey cizikas matt murray 3rd 19:36 1/16/17 san jose sharks winnipeg jets (2011) joe thornton michael hutchinson 3rd 19:50 2/4/17 pittsburgh penguins st louis blues sidney crosby jake allen 3rd 19:42 11/3/17 nashville predators anaheim ducks p.k. subban pekka rinne austin watson john gibson 3rd 19:42 11/21/17 dallas stars montreal canadiens tyler seguin alexander radulov charlie lindgren 3rd 19:33 12/1/17 winnipeg jets (2011) vegas golden knights kyle connor mark scheifele blake wheeler maxime lagace 3rd 18:52 12/14/17 columbus blue jackets new york islanders josh anderson thomas greiss 3rd 19:59 12/22/17 florida panthers minnesota wild jonathan huberdeau aleksander barkov alex stalock 3rd 19:54 2/2/18 minnesota wild vegas golden knights eric staal mathew dumba jonas brodin devan dubnyk 3rd 18:31 2/16/18 new york islanders carolina hurricanes john tavares cam ward 3rd 19:28 2/24/18 washington capitals buffalo sabres lars eller alex chiasson matt niskanen robin lehner 3rd 17:48 3/8/18 san jose sharks st louis blues tomas hertl brent burns jake allen 3rd 19:45
ALL OF THIS IS JUST JOKES AND INTERESTING STATS NO OFFENSE TO ANY PLAYERS OR ANYONE :]