Blessing in Disguise?

Jonathan Willis
January 22 2009 04:46PM

Dany Sabourin, the ex-Pittsburgh Penguins backup goaltender who Edmonton acquired last weekend as part of the deal that sent Mathieu Garon out of town, cleared waivers as of noon on Wednesday. The New York Islanders were expected to claim Sabourin after losing Wade Dubielewicz to Columbus, but instead opted to stand pat. Here is their current goaltending depth:

  • Rick DiPietro – 1-3-0, 3.52 GAA, .892 SV% (out for season)
  • Joey MacDonald – 11-21-4, 3.27 GAA, .900 SV% (out until mid-February)
  • Yann Danis – 1-5-1, 3.19 GAA, .901 SV% (NHL) 7-3-0, 2.26 GAA, .924 SV% (AHL)
  • Peter Mannino - 0-0-0, 13.81 GAA, .625 SV% (NHL) 9-10-2, 3.09 GAA, .895 SV% (AHL)
  • Nathan Lawson - 10-2-0, 1.90 GAA, .933 SV% (AHL) 2-0-0, 2.28 GAA, .918 SV% (ECHL)

According to Newsday, the Islanders decision to pass on Sabourin was two-fold. First, MacDonald is progressing nicely in his recovery from a groin strain, and secondly, Yann Danis had a .929 SV% over the previous four games leading up to Wednesday. Lee Forman of Examiner.com adds somewhat cynically that there’s little point in the Islanders adding payroll when the team isn’t going anywhere regardless.

It makes sense for the Islanders to write this season off; little more than halfway through the schedule they’re already twenty points out of a playoff spot. It does speak to Garth Snow’s incompetence that he failed to address the goal-tending issue that emerged when DiPietro had problems early on; while the Islanders have other issues, intentionally running the vast majority of the season with a pair of AHL goaltenders would seem like an obvious problem.

Whatever the concerns are about his salary, the Oilers have yet to assign Sabourin to Springfield, which would be the obvious next move. Jim Matheson suggests that Sabourin’s contract, which would not count against the cap if he were to play in the NHL, would be a lot of money for an AHL goaltender (although they don’t seem to have a problem paying Mathieu Roy at a similar rate).

In any case, assigning Dany Sabourin to Springfield may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the Oilers. Prior to sending Jeff Deslauriers to Springfield on a conditioning stint, Dubnyk had played all but three of Springfield’s games. Early on, Dubnyk was stellar, earning AHL Player of the Week honours at one point, but slumped after that. He’s looked better since taking a break while Deslauriers was in Springfield, and was named first star in his last game, stopping 33 of 34 shots en route to a 4-1 victory over Portland.

Jeff Truitt seems to have little confidence in Dubnyk’s current backup, 25-year-old Glenn Fisher. Fisher posted went 14-19-2 with a 3.36 GAA and .903 SV% for Stockton last season and was signed to an AHL-only contract this summer. As a result, Dubnyk may well be playing too many games, hurting his performance. Having an excellent AHL goalie to spell him in Dany Sabourin may help, rather than hinder his development.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Dropping Deuces
January 22 2009, 05:15PM
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Also, if JDD struggles we can always call Sabourin up to back up Roli. I really miss the 3 headed goalie monster talk.

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#2 Chris
January 22 2009, 05:22PM
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Does anyone know if Sabourin would be exempt from recall waivers?

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#3 Jonathan Willis
January 22 2009, 05:43PM
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Chris wrote:

Does anyone know if Sabourin would be exempt from recall waivers?

Off the top of my head, I believe Sabourin would need to clear re-entry waivers to be called up since he had to clear waivers to be sent down.

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#4 Chris
January 22 2009, 07:43PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: I could be mistaken but Sabourin would be re-entry waiver exempt if he has played 180 games as a pro and has been on an NHL roster for less than 80 games the last two years. I'm not sure if Sabourin has been on a roster for more than 80 games in the last two years. If he has, he would be subject to re-entry waivers and it would be insane to recall him if Roli or Deslaurier were placed on I.R.

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#5 oilerdago
January 22 2009, 08:20PM
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Jonathan, I could be wrong but from the way I read Jim Matheson's article it seemed like the Oilers are not happy about sending him to Springfield.

This makes little sense because Dubnyk needs someone who can spell him. Since they've decided they are not going to play Glenn Fisher they're just running DD into the ground.

What is it about this organization and developing goaltenders?

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#6 Colin
January 22 2009, 08:29PM
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oilerdago wrote:

What is it about this organization and developing goaltenders?

They developed one in thirty years, isn't that enough?

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#7 Pokie Reddik
January 22 2009, 08:36PM
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If the Oilers get Pete Peters to work with Sabourin, He could be the goaltender of the future for the Oilers, I bet Pete is just salvating at the opertunity, He did a hell of a job with Garon, JDD.

P.S. Mr Flintstone, I take it back, you do question MacT... by objecting to his line ups, you question him but I know you want to rip him.

Pokie

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#8 Jonathan Willis
January 22 2009, 08:48PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: I could be mistaken but Sabourin would be re-entry waiver exempt if he has played 180 games as a pro and has been on an NHL roster for less than 80 games the last two years. I’m not sure if Sabourin has been on a roster for more than 80 games in the last two years. If he has, he would be subject to re-entry waivers and it would be insane to recall him if Roli or Deslaurier were placed on I.R.

If your numbers are right, Sabourin would need to clear. He spent all of last season on an NHL roster, and almost all of 2006-07.

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#9 Chris
January 22 2009, 09:10PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Thanks. Too bad though. For a half mil it would be nice to have that flexibility.

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#10 RLH
January 22 2009, 09:12PM
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Something of a rhetorical question...Is anyone else completely baffled by the waiver system in the NHL? It makes for some incredible chess matches. The analogy works even better when I think about how much of chess I understand...Nil.

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#11 Jonathan Willis
January 22 2009, 09:29PM
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RLH wrote:

Something of a rhetorical question…Is anyone else completely baffled by the waiver system in the NHL? It makes for some incredible chess matches. The analogy works even better when I think about how much of chess I understand…Nil.

Yeah, it's pretty stupid. Take what happened with Wade Dubielewicz last week.

The Islanders sign him, but need to expose him to waivers to add him to the roster.

Columbus claims him.

Now, had any other team in the league signed him and put him on waivers, the Islanders would have had first shot at him, because htey're last in the NHL. But because the Islanders signed him, each of the other 29 teams got a crack at him before he could sign.

Stupid, stupid rules.

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#12 Ribs
January 22 2009, 10:07PM
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And stupid, stupid, Islanders. Does Snow have no friends?

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#13 Dennis
January 22 2009, 10:48PM
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I thought this was about the possibility that Sabourin could surface up high to help out if JDD tanks.

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#14 Jonathan Willis
January 22 2009, 10:54PM
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Dennis wrote:

I thought this was about the possibility that Sabourin could surface up high to help out if JDD tanks.

I'm not convinced that Sabourin has much of an edge on JDD; even if he did, I have trouble seeing him clearing re-entry waivers.

Of course, maybe he would, and it is nice to have the option, but he's far more likely to be of use to this organization as a guy who spells Dubnyk than he is at the NHL level.

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#15 misfit
January 23 2009, 12:45AM
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The Isles definately have goaltending issues, but is Sabourin that much of an upgrade over Dannis? Why make a waiver claim and pay another guy to give you pretty much the same level of goaltending as the guy you already have on the payroll?

And why wouldn't Tabellini send Sabourin to Springfield already? Worried about stalling the development of Fisher? I doubt it.

It's amazing that this organization will let us start the season with a gaping hole at center, but spend this much time and energy on shuffling marginal goaltenders.

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#16 Antony Ta
January 23 2009, 01:26AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Dennis wrote: I thought this was about the possibility that Sabourin could surface up high to help out if JDD tanks. I’m not convinced that Sabourin has much of an edge on JDD; even if he did, I have trouble seeing him clearing re-entry waivers. Of course, maybe he would, and it is nice to have the option, but he’s far more likely to be of use to this organization as a guy who spells Dubnyk than he is at the NHL level.

Why would he have trouble clearing if he just did it this week? The only way I see him not clearing re-entry waivers is if he puts together a heckuava performance playing alongside Dubnyk.

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#17 Andrew W
January 23 2009, 01:47AM
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"Jim Matheson suggests that Sabourin’s contract, which would not count against the cap if he were to play in the NHL..."

Is this right? Did you mean to write that his salary would not count against the cap if he were playing in the AHL?

I'm a bit confused by this...

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#18 BUCK75
January 23 2009, 07:37AM
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This is kinda confusing, but the way we the fans wanted it. With the Oil now holding a play-off spot, the rest of the season they will be trying to hold or regain a spot, riding Roli most of the way. So are we really 'developing' a goaltender if he plays say 10 or 11 games (I think that is optimistic) they only play back-to-back 3 times in the next 36.

I think JDD only plays 5 -7 games the rest of the way. It's not like the start of the season, we are playing against teams that are in the mix for the play-offs with the exception of the 7 games against the eastern conference.

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#19 The Towel Boy
January 23 2009, 07:49AM
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oilerdago wrote:

Jonathan, I could be wrong but from the way I read Jim Matheson’s article it seemed like the Oilers are not happy about sending him to Springfield. This makes little sense because Dubnyk needs someone who can spell him. Since they’ve decided they are not going to play Glenn Fisher they’re just running DD into the ground. What is it about this organization and developing goaltenders?

I think the Oil weren't too thrilled about sending him down because they planned on moving him before trying to make him clear waivers. I suspect they were thinking he wouldn't clear and then we'da only netted out with Ryan Stone and a 4 th Rd pick for Garon...at least with Sabourin cleaing waivers he's still in the mix it's another chip to play poker with.

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#20 Ender the Dragon
January 23 2009, 08:50AM
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Chris wrote:

Sabourin . . . would be subject to re-entry waivers and it would be insane to recall him if Roli or Deslaurier were placed on I.R.

Jonathan Willis wrote:

I’m not convinced that Sabourin has much of an edge on JDD; even if he did, I have trouble seeing him clearing re-entry waivers.

Antony Ta wrote:

Why would he have trouble clearing if he just did it this week? The only way I see him not clearing re-entry waivers is if he puts together a heckuava performance playing alongside Dubnyk.

At first, I questioned re-entry waivers for Sabourin based on the same argument that makes re-entry waivers unfeasable for most other players; a player claimed on re-entry is a bargain at half-price, with the recalling team picking up half their salary for the rest of the season. That said, I don't see that it's really applicable here. Sabourin only has 230K left on his contract this year, and the clock is ticking. I don't think a team that was legitimately interested in him would let him slide through waivers the first time, hoping to pick him up on re-entry just to save 100K or so. 100K is chump-change in the NHL, so suddenly AT's question is a pretty legitimate one; if Sabourin cleared the first time, why wouldn't he clear again?

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#21 Jonathan Willis
January 23 2009, 08:50AM
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Andrew W wrote:

Is this right? Did you mean to write that his salary would not count against the cap if he were playing in the AHL?

Sorry - you've translated it correctly.

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#22 Jonathan Willis
January 23 2009, 08:58AM
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Yann Danis' AHL record, the past few seasons: 2007-08: 11-19-4, 3.28 GAA, .893 SV% 2006-07: 23-14-5, 2.81 GAA, .905 SV% 2005-06: 17-17-3, 2.97 GAA, .902 SV%

Dany Sabourin's reocord, the past few seasons: 2007-08: 10-9-1, 2.75 GAA, .904 SV% (NHL) 2006-07: 2-4-1, 2.63 GAA, .906 SV% (NHL) 2005-06: 30-14-4, 2.26 GAA, .922 SV% (AHL)

There's quite a bit of difference.

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#23 Jonathan Willis
January 23 2009, 08:59AM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

100K is chump-change in the NHL, so suddenly AT’s question is a pretty legitimate one; if Sabourin cleared the first time, why wouldn’t he clear again?

It's a good question, and we obviously can't say with certainty; but there could very well be a different team in need of a backup by the time the Oilers get around to calling him up.

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#24 Cam
January 23 2009, 09:37AM
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Could it also be that they are hedging in case JDD turns out to be the real deal? Sabourin as backup and JDD as starter scares the crap out of me, but if they screw up this summer and can't sign a goaltender it might pay to have a backup plan. (excuse the pun)

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#25 Jonathan Willis
January 23 2009, 09:47AM
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Cam wrote:

Could it also be that they are hedging in case JDD turns out to be the real deal? Sabourin as backup and JDD as starter scares the crap out of me, but if they screw up this summer and can’t sign a goaltender it might pay to have a backup plan. (excuse the pun)

Sabourin's contract expires this summer. JDD-Sabourin would be a miserable tandem; hell, Roloson-JDD isn't a pairing I'd be comfortable with going into next season.

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#26 Cam
January 23 2009, 10:38AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Sabourin’s contract expires this summer. JDD-Sabourin would be a miserable tandem; hell, Roloson-JDD isn’t a pairing I’d be comfortable with going into next season.

I wasn't sure about Sabourin's contract, so that is good to know. I concur with your assessment about JDD being starter. I am barely comfortable with him as backup.

I am very curious about what the Oilers are going to do about goaltending heading into next season. There is a lot of talent up for grabs.

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