Monday, September 12, 2011

Player Profile - Devan Dubnyk

For one to say Devan Dubnyk looked over matched during his 19 game audition in 2009 - 2010 would be putting it nicely. While his stats weren't great, not surprising playing for a 30th place club, he looked like he had no business being in the NHL. Positionally he was average at best, his rebound control was poor and worst of all, whenever a puck beat him his head would drop instantly. He looked so dejected that you knew another one would get by him in short order. Heading into his final start of that season, I had my doubts if this kid had the game and more importantly the mental makeup to play at this level. After that final start on April 10th against the Los Angeles Kings, my opinion on Devan Dubynk possibly becoming an NHL goalie changed.

He looked like a completely different player backstopping the Oilers to a 4-3 shootout victory. Edmonton was out shot 55 - 16 and the ice was tilted all night long. Dubynk, for once, used his size to his advantage and was square on nearly every shot while being in complete control of his rebounds. The Kings did fight back in the third to tie the game up and Dubynk's head dropped after the 3-2 goal and on cue it was 3-3 a few minutes later. Then, unlike any other game, he dug in deep and made sure he didn't let in the next one...and he was rewarded with the win. I was stunned!!!! One game doesn't change anything but it showed the potential the Regina born goaltender had and that he wasn't as weak as he appeared to be, when it came to the mental side of the things. He showed that he could fight not only for himself but his team as well...which I had seriously questioned to that point.

Jump forward to the 2010-2011 season and the inconsistent play of Nikolai Khabibulin during the first month of the season The coaching staff finally decided to give Devan Dubnyk his first start of the season against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 28th. To his credit, he picked up right where he left off against the Kings at the end of the previous season. The Oilers lost in a shootout that night, were out shot 41-27 and if not for Dubnyk standing on his head, the game would have been over after the first. That  was a springboard to what would be a very successful season for the sophomore goaltender. So much so that many are expecting him to be the starter heading into the 2011-2012 season.

I foresee the two netminders splitting the workload this season, which will allow Dubnyk to work on parts of his game, while not having the pressure of carrying the load for the club. He still needs to learn to bounce back from giving up a bad goal and  prove that he can start a number of games in succession and keep his play at a high level. The good game or three followed by a stinker needs to be eliminated from his repertoire, if he wants to be considered as a possible 50+ game starter at this level. Another area of concern, are the continued struggles Dubnyk has in the shootout. Whatever reason, when it comes to the shootout he plays very small and does not read the play well at all. With his size and ability to move post to post, this should not be the case but at the moment it is and it is an area of concern.

Putting the clubs chances of success this season on Devan Dubynk's shoulders would be the worst thing this organization could do for his development. Many think this is the way for the Oilers to go and they are, frankly, dead wrong. If he can't play five straight games at a consistent level how does starting him 50+ games make any sense? As mentioned in other profiles, players on this roster should be placed in situations where they can be successful and not set up for failure. Forcing Dubnyk to become the clear cut number one guy for 2011-2012 would be setting him up for just that.

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

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