The game of hockey, maybe more than any other, is subject to a lot of random variation. The puck bounces a certain player's way, and he has a career year. A player gets poor puck luck, and people are wondering what happened to him.

The bad news for players who benefit from that randomness, and the good news for players who are negatively affected by it, is that regression is an unstoppable force. Most people focus on negative regression, but positive regression occurs just as often.

Today, we are taking a look at which players should regress in the 2022-23 season. Some of them scored at an unsustainable pace and are due to cool off a bit this year. Others, however, are strong bounce-back candidates after being snake-bitten for much of the 2021-22 campaign.

Here are the top regression candidates for the upcoming NHL season.

 

Chris Kreider | LW | New York Rangers

After failing to hit the 30-goal mark in his first nine NHL seasons, Kreider scored 52 last season at the age of 31. Kreider's insane scoring binge was fueled by an insanely high shooting percentage on the power play. He has always been a power play weapon, but last season, he led the league with 26 power play goals. He took 66 shots on the man advantage (that is an insane number), which comes out to a shooting percentage of 39.39%. By contrast, fellow Ranger Mika Zibanejad took 71 power play shots in 2021-22 and scored on 15 of them. Kreider will continue to score at a high rate on the power play, but maintaining a shooting percentage just shy of 40% is nearly impossible.

 

Brendan Gallagher | RW | Montreal Canadiens

Gallagher could be the poster child for positive regression this season. In 2021-22, Gallagher scored on 0.88% of his shots at five-on-five. That is not a typo. I did not mean 8.8%. According to Natural Stat Trick, Gallagher took 113 shots at five-on-five last season. He scored on one of them. Gallagher is probably not the 30-goal scorer he was from 2017 to 2019, but he is definitely not the seven-goal scorer he was last season, either. If Gallagher's shooting percentage just regresses back to his career average of 9.7% -- and he stays healthy for the entire season -- it's not hard to imagine a 20-goal campaign from him in 2022-23.