Dating back to Jani Rita, I always wondered if the Oilers scouting department and coaching staff were on the same page. The procurement department would draft Rita and Mikhnov and Niinimaki, and the coaching staff would employ Jason Chimera, Brad Winchester and Kyle Brodziak.
I think maybe Devan Dubnyk is the last of that group. Selected in the middle of round 1 in 2004, Dubnyk was developed carefully by the Oilers and finally won the war for NHL employment with Jeff Deslauriers.
And even with that, the Oilers were hesitant to play the man. Despite clearly outperforming the highly paid veteran, despite winning far more than the starter, Devan Dubnyk was spotted throughout the season. It looked for all the world as though they were underestimating his ability to do what he was in fact doing.
I understand they have a plan, and the number overall pick was in view by January. But it’s galling to watch a team stubbornly insist the poorer goalie get the most starts. Strange, strange behaviour.
Devan Dubnyk 10-11
- Boxcars: 35gp, 2.71
- SP: ..916
- WLT: 12-13-8
- SP behind starter: Dubnyk was 26 points clear of the veteran
- What do these numbers tell us? The Edmonton Oilers really wanted that lottery pick. If DD had played the total minutes of Khabibulin (and maintined his performance level), Edmonton would have saved themselves 31 goals against. For a team with a goal differential of 76, that’s a large portion of the problem staring you right in the GD face.
- What do these numbers tell us? The Oilers once again are hesitant to trust their procurement department. At some point during the season, Dubnyk progressed from prospect/rookie to NHL goalie; at that point there was simply no good reason to play Khabibulin. At all. This isn’t an argument I’m making, this is absolutely a fact.
- What. do. these. numbers. TELL US? Dubnyk performed very well as a rookie. Of the 7 NHL rookie goalies who played enough to qualify as regulars, DD’s .916 SP ranks 4th. Considering the team he backstopped (DD was just behind Corey Crawford of Chicago and ahead of Washington goaler Neuvirth, Los Angeles’ Jonathan Bernier and the latest Flyer entry Bobrovsky) I think he could be considered as one of the best rookies in the class. Vancouver’s Schneider and Toronto’s Reimer were ahead by a fair margin in SP, so it looks like a strong group arrived this season.
- Is he really a legit #1 candidate? I think so, yes. It doesn’t mean he’s going to be a star for the next decade, but he’s showing some ability at the highest level in the world. I think those horrible teams he played for in junior and pro made it harder to see him as a legit starter. Asiaoil talked about this many times (in the comments section of the Dubnyk posts on this blog, Asia patiently walks us through the kid’s career. He neither trumpted his arrival nor buried him, a good lesson for us when the next “goalie of the future” arrives).
- How many games should he play next season? If Khabibulin is his partner, 82. I kid. I think Dubnyk should be the Oilers starter beginning in the fall, but the club should also sign someone like this Finnish fellow Fasth as an option. Bring him over, if he forces his way onto the roster the club can carry three goalies. They’ve done it before, and that way Khabibulin can watch from the pressbox. First MVP award to be won while sitting with the media, but if you’re trying to win hockey games…..
- When was the last time an Oiler backup was this much better than the incumbent? In 03-04, Tommy Salo’s SP slipped to .896 while Ty Conklin’s was .912; that seems a good match for what we’re viewing here. Garon outperformed Roloson a few years back, but both goalies were much better than Khabibulin this past season.
- Well, the Oilers dealt Salo for Gilbert. Khabibulin still has value. I wish they could find a KHL team to take his salary, maybe cut a deal where Katz can at least save some real dollars (the cap hit remains no matter what happens). But no, there’s no Tommy Gilbert coming for NK.
- Back to Dubnyk. Is Conklin his upside? I’d aim a little higher. I think Dubnyk at the very least will end up being a Gary Smith type (Smith’s nickname was “Suitcase” because he kept moving around, but he was a starter on every team he played for save Chicago), enjoying a solid career in the 7-10 year range.
- Has he really arrived as an NHL goalie? Yes. Look, he played in front of the craptastic Oiler blue and delivered a reasonable SP. Kelly Hrudey at one time suggested the Oilers would be better off with JDD, but this season during a broadcast told everyone he’d made a mistake. He saw Dubnyk bad early but felt his mechanics added to the calm feet that arrived when he gained confidence meant the Oilers had a good young goalie.
- How Important is he to the organization? Too soon to tell, but he’s made it this far, I don’t see any reason to believe he can’t grab and hold the starting job–even if they do hire Fasth.