Winter 2009: #12
Summer 2010: #10
Winter 2010: #11
This is Devan Dubnyk’s final appearence on the top 20. After making the list (and before posting this) he played enough games for him to graduate my list. I considered dropping him, but in the end he made the grade because he ranked this high and because he could be a big part of this future. Dubnyk’s development took forever, but the Oilers look to have done it right. Unlike Jeff Deslauriers, who was loaned out, farmed out, shut out and is now being phased out, Dubnyk’s path look a more logical route. The Edmonton Oilers allowed him to find his way at his own pace. It may pay off, as the club might have an actual NHL goaltender at the end of the rainbow.
Redline: absolutely gigantic at 6-5/190 pounds. He’s gangly and plays a stand-up style with patience and an economy of motion, allowing the puck to come to him. But his rebound control and ability to read plays needs some work.
International Scouting Services: covers a lot of net and plays a strong positional game. He plays with a lot of confidence, and stays calm under pressure. Going into the second half of the season look for Dubnyk to take on a key role with the team. With Kirk McLean as his goaltending coach he has help with the mental side of his game. Endurance shouldn’t be a concern, extra weight lifting and cardiovascular work has increased his fitness.
Dubnyk’s story must include a word about the pitiful teams he’s played for over the years. Kamloops was a tough team, but lacked talent and had a tendency to give up a lot of 3-on-5 opportunities (Dubnyk also took a tremendous number of penalties for stick work). Still, his junior work got him noticed and he was among the WHL’s top dozen goalies each season:
- 2002-03: 26gp, 3.10, .907 2so (SP 8th OV)
- 2003-04: 44gp, 2.51, .917 6so (SP 10th OV)
- 2004-05: 65gp, 2.69, .912 6so (SP 12th OV)
- 2005-06: 54gp, 2.54, .912 1so (SP 12th OV)
When turning pro, Dubnyk faced an Oiler depth chart that included Dwayne Roloson and Jussi Markkanen at the NHL level, minstrel gypsy Deslauriers playing for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Dubnyk setting up shop in ECHL Stockton:
- 2006-07 (ECHL): 43gp, 2.56, .921 2so (SP tied for 3rd OV)
This was viewed by many as a wasted season, but Dubnyk did get his feet wet in pro hockey and played at well above league average during his time in California. It was a nice stepping stone to his AHL debut with the Springfield Falcons the following year:
- 2007-08 (AHL): 33gp, 3.12, .904 0so (SP 33rd OV)
Deslauriers was the starter (57 games, .912) and Roloson had been joined at the NHL level by Mathieu Garon. Dubnyk was ahead of Bryan Pitton and Glenn Fisher, but was miles from being an NHL goaltender.
- 2008-09 (AHL): 62gp, 2.97 .906 3so (SP ties for 28th OV)
- 2009-10 (AHL): 33gp, 3.02 .915 0so (SP ties for 14th OV)
Dubnyk slowly moved up the list of AHL goaltenders looking for an NHL shot, and 09-10 seemed to be the season where he emerged as an equal option for “goalie of the future” in Edmonton. Although JDD got all the starts, the reports from Springfield were glowing and the Oilers had another option for the future. Here’s his NHL numbers so far:
- 2009-10 (NHL): 19gp, 3.57 .889 0so (SP 72nd out of 83 goalies)
- 2010-11 (NHL): 9gp, 3.20 .913 0so (SP tied for 33rd out of 67 goales)
Dubnyk’s progress can be measured all down the line. The Oilers made a lot of mistakes with picks and prospects in this decade, but Dubnyk’s handling looks like it was just about right.
Former Oilers goalie coach Pete Peeters said something after Dubnyk’s rookie AHL season I’ve always remembered:
- “You see how many shots that guy faced (1,910 in 62 games)? And his save percentage (.906)? I thought he played really well, considering the team he played on. You have to be tough mentally when you’re not winning that many games and putting in those kind of performances.”
Here are some select quotes from 2008-09 and earlier:
- NHL Scout: “He’s the best goaltender in the league, and he’s got the worst record.” After watching the Falcons lose a Jan. 30 game at Worcester.
- Rob Daum: “In Devan’s case, losing is part of the challenge. He has to concentrate on his performance, not on the outcome. That’s the way to evaluate him. And the mental toughness has to be there for the next game. He did a very good job in that game.”
- Jeff Truitt: “Devan’s a workhorse. He was a workhorse then, and he is now. Back in junior, the more he would play, the better he would get, and here he’s getting better and better.”
- Lowell Devils coach Kurt Kleinendorst: “He’s big in the net. He’s got a nice presence about him, very calming. You can see the potential in him.”
I’ve hired Asiaoil (although there’s no money in it) as my goalie expert, and here’s what he said in May 2010:
- Dubnyk is 2 years younger than JDD and is significantly further along in terms of development than JDD was at the same age.
- After a rough initial period of getting used to the NHL game after his first call up (common for young goalies) he outplayed the more experienced JDD down the stretch.
- SPR was decent with Dubnyk who they relied on a lot and was absolutely awful without him.
- Athletic goalies with bad technique look like JDD – occasionally spectacular but having a tendency to regularly let in a soft goal. Making the big save is not however what keeps you employed in the NHL – it’s eliminating the softies which cost wins.
- Although he is not as athletic – Dubnyk’s technique is way better than JDDs who still has frighteningly big holes in his game. NHL goaltending is about consistency and that is something that JDD has never shown anywhere in his pro resume.
- It’s no contest – you keep DD and give him 30 starts next years with a vet to continue his development. The latter part of the season showed that DD has potential – whether that potential is realized is another issue – but we already know JDD’s upside is backup NHL goalie and should not waste any more development time (and wins) on that.