Monday, September 12, 2011

Oilers NHL Depth Chart: Goaltender

Playing goal for the Edmonton Oilers isn't exactly the easiest gig in the NHL. That being said, if this team is going to compete on a nightly basis they need more consistent play from the goaltenders. One was clearly better then the other last season but both had a bad habit of giving up goals at the wrong time.

Nikolai Khabibulin - To say the 'Bulin Wall's time in Edmonton has been a disappointment is an understatement. Khabibulin's 1st season was rounding into form after a tough start but his back injury put an end to that. Season 2 was a flat out disaster but the one good thing that came of his poor play was an opportunity for Devan Dubnyk to earn some playing time.

Most people believe the 38 year old Russian netminder is over the hill but I am not so sure. With the improvements the club made this off season, I believe Khabibulin will rebound and have a good season. Make no mistake, his days as an elite goalie are gone but he is not the goalie that Edmonton fans had to witness on a nightly basis last season. He still has the ability to steal games and get hot for a stretch and carry a team.

I see Khabibulin and Dubnyk pretty much playing an even split...unless one of them clearly outshines the other.

2011-2012 Prediction:   17 W - 2.80 GAA - .908 SV%

Devan Dubnyk - After looking completely overwhelmed in his rookie campaign Devan Dubnyk took huge strides in his overall game last season. Dubnyk seemed to not believe in himself as an NHL goalie in season one but he was at the complete opposite end of the spectrum in his sophomore year.

His positional play was night and day between the two seasons. He went from going down in the butterfly and "hoping" that pucks hit him, to being completely square on nearly every shot and always in place for the rebound. Devan is a huge man at 6'6" and he finally started to use his size to his advantage.

He still has the bad habit of letting in goals at the worst possible time but that should change as his development as a goalie continues. Another area of concern is his inability to be consistent in the shootout. He doesn't use his size well at all during the skill competition. Routinely he's beat on dekes high on the blocker side and seems unable to read that it's coming.

Dubnyk showed he has the potential of being an NHL starting goaltender and now it's up to him to claim that role.

2011-2012 Prediction:    20 W - 2.75 GAA - .915 SV%

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