DEVAN DUBNYK: MORE, PLEASE

Robin Brownlee
April 27 2012 02:12PM

The way I see it, Devan Dubnyk is progressing nicely along the development curve and has a decent chance to be the Edmonton Oilers starting goaltender for the next decade. Some of you may see it differently.

Of course, the way you and I see it doesn't matter a bit when it comes to what's going to unfold in the crease for the Oilers moving forward. What GM Steve Tambellini sees and thinks carries more weight than the opinions of those of us sitting at home playing armchair GM.

It was interesting, then, to listen to Tambellini's comments about Dubnyk this week – and to maybe read between the lines -- when he sat down for an exclusive interview with radio analyst Bob Stauffer on his Oilers Now show on 630 CHED.

WHAT HE SAID

"I think he has it in him, ability wise, to be able to be, a chance to have a starting role," said Tambellini, mangling his opening remarks like Doug Friedman assaulting the puck while attempting to stickhandle.

"But I need a statement this year. I need a statement from him, physically, that he's brought himself to a totally different level that can match No. 1 goaltenders in the NHL. He hasn't done that yet.

"I need someone that can bring me months of play that shows me he's the guy; he's the guy we can rely on.

A statement from Dubnyk "physically?" That could be construed as raising questions about Dubnyk's conditioning and fitness level, no? I haven't had a chance to rifle through the drawers in the Oilers training office to get a peek at Dubnyk's file, so I can't say for sure. I might be reaching.

More telling – and accurate, if you take a look at Dubnyk's game logs – is Tambellini's remark about "months of play." If he's saying Dubnyk needs to string together longer stretches of the kind of performances he's teased us with in flashes, and I think he is, to be a long-term option, then that's on the money. Who'd disagree? More of the best. Less of the rest.

COMING ALONG

Dubnyk, who will turn 26 in May, has progressed to the point where he's clearly a better option than Nikolai Khabibulin heading into the 2012-13 season. Big deal. It doesn't take a vast intellect to figure that out.

The question, as it often is with developing goaltenders, appears to be that elusive quality known as consistency. Can Dubnyk be good enough often enough to be Plan A in goal or is he just keeping the crease warm until the right stopper comes along?

-- In 2009-10, Dubnyk got into just 19 games and finished his first NHL season with a record of 4-10-2 to go along with a saves percentage of .889 and a goals-against average of 3.57.

-- In 2010-11 with Khabibulin battling injuries, Dubnyk almost doubled his workload as he got into 35 games and finished 12-13-8 with a .916 saves percentage and a GAA of 2.71. A marked improvement.

-- This season, Dubnyk got into 47 games and finished at 20-20-3 with a .914 and a 2.67. He was particularly good late in the season, including a stretch that saw him allow just 18 even-strength goals against in his final 11 appearances (he gave up four PPG in that stretch).

I think the progress Dubnyk has shown is enough reason to turn the crease over to him for the vast majority of the workload, say 55-60 games, in 2012-13. What Dubnyk does with the opportunity will show Tambellini, and us, if he is the goaltender of the future or just a caretaker.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

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A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 John Chambers
April 27 2012, 08:54PM
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@Robin Brownlee

There's certainly an upside to operating as a class organization. But everything needs to fall second to on-ice success.

The Rangers aren't accused of being a scumbag organization, nor are they having challenges getting Brad Richards to sign on to play the rest of his career because they made a sober decision to bury Wade Redden in the AHL.

Teams should give back to the community. They should keep good guys in their employ. They should encourage ethics, sportsmanship, and character. And they owe it to their fans to ice the players who give the team the best chance to win.

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#52 Eddie Shore
April 27 2012, 10:29PM
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John Chambers wrote:

There's certainly an upside to operating as a class organization. But everything needs to fall second to on-ice success.

The Rangers aren't accused of being a scumbag organization, nor are they having challenges getting Brad Richards to sign on to play the rest of his career because they made a sober decision to bury Wade Redden in the AHL.

Teams should give back to the community. They should keep good guys in their employ. They should encourage ethics, sportsmanship, and character. And they owe it to their fans to ice the players who give the team the best chance to win.

Checkmate Sergei, Chowa Chonnng.

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#53 bazmagoo
April 27 2012, 10:56PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

Err....

Lehtonen,

Smith,

Quick,

and

DROUIN-DESLAURIERS?

One of these things...

Haha, was wondering how long that would take to be noticed!

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#54 Walter Sobchak
April 27 2012, 11:56PM
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Good read Brownlee.

Not to be that armchair GM but...

I can't help but think the Oilers have to explore options on the goalies .

DD is a restricted free agent this year I think, maybe next not sure. The year after he will become a UFA. Do the Oilers sign DD long term? I think based on what we have seen, heard and read it's not likely. That could leave the Oilers without a capable goalie as soon as 2013.

However, what if he post significant numbers? A extended contract after one good season? Risky, very risky, especially with a lot of UFA's on the books for 2013 season.

What if DD wants to only sign a year by year contract's so he can "test" the market in two years?

It makes sense that the Oilers explore signing Harding based just on DD contract nevermind that he's been inconsistent and unproven as a starter.

Can the Oilers afford to look past 2012 without having a capable 1B option?

Time to start looking ahead as an organization instead of the moment.

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#56 longbottom/P.Biglow
April 28 2012, 04:37PM
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This is one idea I can get behind Switch Danis and Khabi for a year let Khabi work with Roy and give Danis an opertunity at at least a 1b type of shot he has earned it. It worked well in the past at giving older AHL goaltenders a shot at the Primetime. Can anyone say Thomas nobody wanted the guy(including the Oilers) till Boston gave him a shot. How did that work out?

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#57 dawgbone
April 28 2012, 05:34PM
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Kind of makes you wonder what the hell he ever saw in Khabibulin to annoint him with a 4 year deal and the starters role.

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