Where Does Devan Dubnyk Belong in the Oilers’ Pantheon of Goalies?

Jonathan Willis
December 12 2013 08:56AM

 

With the advances in goaltending over the last three decades, it can be difficult to evaluate across eras. But it’s possible, by comparing each player to the league average at the time, to approximate how Devan Dubnyk stands up to Grant Fuhr and Bill Ranford and Tommy Salo and all the rest.

As most readers have likely guessed, this little exercise was prompted by Robin Brownlee making the point on this site last night that Devan Dubnyk is back in front of Dwayne Roloson for the top save percentage in Edmonton Oilers history.

Brownlee was right of course, but what happens if we adjust for era?

The List

Player Seasons GP Save percentage Adjusted SV%
Andy Moog* 1980-87 235 0.887 0.923
Grant Fuhr* 1981-91 423 0.882 0.916
Dwayne Roloson 2005-09 193 0.909 0.914
Mathieu Garon 2007-09 62 0.909 0.912
Tommy Salo 1998-04 334 0.906 0.911
Bill Ranford 1987-00 449 0.887 0.910
Curtis Joseph 1995-98 177 0.902 0.910
Devan Dubnyk 2009-14 164 0.910 0.910
Ty Conklin 2001-06 60 0.905 0.909
Bob Essensa 1996-99 74 0.904 0.909
Jussi Markkanen 2001-07 102 0.898 0.904
Jeff Deslauriers 2008-10 58 0.901 0.902
Nikolai Khabibulin 2009-13 117 0.903 0.900

With the exception of Ron Low and Eddie Mio – who played in Edmonton before save percentage was recorded by the league – that’s every goalie to play in at least 50 games for the Oilers (goalies with an asterisk played some seasons prior to the league recording save percentage). The “Adjusted SV%” column is based on all of them playing in a 0.912 save percentage league (the current average).

Surprised?

It’s important first to be realistic about these numbers: comparing against the league-average gives us a baseline, but – especially going back to the 1980’s, when shot quality may have varied more widely between teams than it does today – it doesn’t give us bullet-proof numbers.

Some of that might be why Moog’s at the top of the list; anecdotal accounts suggest Fuhr got the toughest opponents once he’d established himself as the top goalie in the rotation. But the bigger problem was that Fuhr’s save percentage dropped dramatically versus the NHL average after Moog was traded to Boston; in the seasons when both played for the team they were neck-and-neck.

Other points:

  • Dwayne Roloson is a little higher on this list than I had expected, but he was fantastic in most of his time with the Oilers, considerably better than the NHL average.
  • I didn’t take into account playoff performances here; Curtis Joseph was spectacular in the post-season for Edmonton and he was with the team for a short enough time that a mediocre first season drags down his totals.
  • Jussi Markkanen’s early career with Edmonton was quite good, but he played a few years after he was done at the NHL level.
  • I expected Jeff Deslauriers to be at the bottom of this list, but the rise in NHL save percentage over the last five years gives Nikolai Khabibulin the crown.

My personal ranking? I’d give Fuhr the top slot between his playoff work and longer body of work with the Oilers and slide Moog in behind him. After that duo, Roloson has a bit of a gap over Joseph and Ranford, and then there’s another gap before reaching Salo and Dubnyk. Nikolai “Maginot Line” Khabibulin takes the last spot.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

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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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#51 Zarny
December 12 2013, 03:37PM
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LOIL99 wrote:

Now normalize for team playing infront of them, Dubnyks adjusted save percentage skyrockets.

The fact that he is even hanging in there with these other Oiler goalies when he has played behind BY FAR the worst Oilers teams in history says a lot.

He is a perfectly capable goalie and IS NOT what the problem with this team is.

When Dubnyk was letting in beach balls and shots from 40 ft to start the year he was most certainly part of the problem.

And capable might make the playoffs; but it won't win the Stanley Cup ;-)

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#52 Zarny
December 12 2013, 03:42PM
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Interesting adjustment. Dubnyk ends up roughly where I expected.

I've always maintained Dubey is a middle-third starting G. Good enough to make the playoffs but not win the Cup.

Nothing I've seen this year changes that assessment.

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#53 RexHolez
December 12 2013, 04:55PM
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I've never been a dubnyk fan. I'm just amazed at how much support edmonton media gives this guy. I'm gonna go nuts if I have to read one more dubnyk apologist article. Does dubnyk buy good Christmas presents for the media or somthing?

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#54 Naky
December 12 2013, 05:27PM
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@Zarny

Capable might make the playoffs, but not the Cup eh? So Crawford must be a massively awesome goalie with numbers much better than Dubnyk a-

Oh.

What was that?

Oh. Well, how about that.

They're the same.

Wait a second... isn't Crawford playing behind a much better team?

Hmmmm.

So you were saying?

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#55 Slyers
December 12 2013, 09:24PM
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RexHolez wrote:

I've never been a dubnyk fan. I'm just amazed at how much support edmonton media gives this guy. I'm gonna go nuts if I have to read one more dubnyk apologist article. Does dubnyk buy good Christmas presents for the media or somthing?

You said It brother, the Gagner / Dubnyk apologists are getting old. What is most laughable is watching so called advanced stat guys trying to twist numbers anyway they can to show either of these guys are good players. What a freaking joke!!!!!! Watch the game put down the calculator !!!!!

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#56 Andy7190
December 12 2013, 09:35PM
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Where does he rank?

At the bottom.

Save % is way over rated.

Grant Fuhr and Andy Moog had brutal stats -

Except in one area - WINS.

Yes, the team was better.

But there is a more recent example of a goalie with borderline mediocre stats on a weak team that had a whole lot of wins.

Kipper. I realize he didn't play in Edmonton. But he played on a weak team in the same relative era as Dubnyk.

But I'd rank every other goalie the Oilers ever ranked as their #1 as better than Dubnyk.

He doesn't win.

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#57 Andy7190
December 12 2013, 09:44PM
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Slyers wrote:

You said It brother, the Gagner / Dubnyk apologists are getting old. What is most laughable is watching so called advanced stat guys trying to twist numbers anyway they can to show either of these guys are good players. What a freaking joke!!!!!! Watch the game put down the calculator !!!!!

Totally agree! Adjusted save %!

I'm sure Andy and Grant just love seeing the adjustment!

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#58 Say what again
December 12 2013, 09:51PM
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You guys still lovin' Dubnyk after that softy of softies? He's been gifting us with those forever. You guys want more years of that? Feel free. I'll find another team ;) .

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#59 Death Metal Nightmare
December 12 2013, 10:17PM
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Eskimo44 wrote:

The thing i always found funny is the Dubnyk lets in a weak goal every game argument. Since establishing himself in the NHL as a potential starter in 10-11 Dubnyk has played in 145 games. In those games he faced 4273 shots while making 3901 saves and gave up 372 goals on them. So if we go by the logic that in those games Dubnyk gave up 1 bad goal a game, not your words but the general sentiment, then he would have gave up only 227 goals in that time. Of course one "bad" goal a game is an extreme amount to be accounting for given all goalies give up "weak" goals and perhaps even you, as extreme in your hate for Dubnyk as you are, perhaps thinks the rate of "soft" goals isn't so high. So lets be generous to old Dubbie and say he only let in a "bad" goal more than a typical starter would in every 2nd game for 299 goals against in that time. Again if thats not generous enough for some lets say every 3rd game he lets in a "weak" goal for 324 goals against. If we take those goals against numbers we can figure out how many saves he should of made based on the 4273 shots against and calculate a save percentage for each scenario had he not given up weak goals (i.e. easily preventable). Lets look at those:

He's actual results

.913

Had he not given up a soft goal every game

.947

Had he not given up a bad goal once every 2 games

.930

Had he not given up a weak goal once every 3 games

.924

Keep in mind his numbers are being dragged down by the horrendous start to the season, before this year his save percentage had been .917 since 10-11. Also keep in mind the Oilers have had a terrible and inexperienced D. So just know when you hear someone say Dubnyk gives up a "bad" goal every game remember had he not he would be the arguably the greatest goalie to every to play. Even if he cut out the "weak" goals in every second game he's still a perrenial Veznia finalist. And even if he still cut them down to one every 3rd game he's still posting very good, all star contention worthy numbers. Remember these are "soft" goals, goals that should be easy to save. If that's all Dubnyk has to improve on then he's got the ability to be an elite starter. Or you know perhaps he's just a whipping boy he gets blamed unfairly for i swear at least 80% of the goals against. How people can say we have a terrible defense, a lack of two forwards/centers, and at times system problems but yet expect Dubnyk to have better than average results just to prove he's at least average is beyond me. Dubnyk has been an average goalie in a far less than average/ideal situation. Perhaps he's not letting in as many weak goals as you think because if he is then this defense is just incredible to keep putting him in a position to post even average numbers. He's got some things to improve on but he also does some things very well and makes some more difficult saves look easier with his size and composure. He had a terrible start but we've all seen this guy play a a pretty consistent level for some time, including now for the last half of this season. This fan base is often guilty of the most ridiculous scapegoating i've ever seen.

post me another essay tonight on how solid Dubnyk is after this Bruins game.

WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK

YOU RATIONAL MATH ADULT. POST ME SOME BLOG ESSAYS TO PROVE HOW SICK YOUR HOCKEY MIND IS. YOURE THE SMARTEST

PS - TL;DR your post. the chaos clown always trumps the "im-smarter-than-you" cynical adult.

DUBNYK IS TRASH

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#60 RexHolez
December 12 2013, 10:33PM
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If the oilers traded goalies with every team they played, we'd be talking playoffs

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#61 Andy7190
December 12 2013, 10:37PM
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RexHolez wrote:

If the oilers traded goalies with every team they played, we'd be talking playoffs

Pretty much.

But wins don't matter.

Math does.

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#62 Oilerz4life
December 12 2013, 11:35PM
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LA has a third string back-up better than our starter. Maybe when Quick comes back we can trade Dubnyk for Jones. Bryzgalov can be our starter and Jones can be the Back-up.

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#63 outdoorzguy
December 13 2013, 07:59AM
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I can't believe that Dubnyk's name is even used in the same sentence as Fuhr's, Salo's and Ranford. Remember when Rogie Vachon was called a Jr. B goalie? Well Dubnyk would be Rogie's backup at best!!

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#64 Andy7190
December 13 2013, 09:30AM
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Zarny wrote:

Interesting adjustment. Dubnyk ends up roughly where I expected.

I've always maintained Dubey is a middle-third starting G. Good enough to make the playoffs but not win the Cup.

Nothing I've seen this year changes that assessment.

So where is the evidence Dubnyk is good enough to make the playoffs?

They are last in their conference again. Largely because of Dubnyks "work".

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#65 camdog
December 13 2013, 10:35AM
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outdoorzguy wrote:

I can't believe that Dubnyk's name is even used in the same sentence as Fuhr's, Salo's and Ranford. Remember when Rogie Vachon was called a Jr. B goalie? Well Dubnyk would be Rogie's backup at best!!

Yet you have no problem with Ty Conklin, Bob Essensa, Jussi Markkanen, Jeff Deslauriers, Nikolai Khabibulin being on that same list?

Only Essensa is not a Lowe guy on that list - during Kevin Lowe's years as an executive with the Oilers, DD was one of the Oilers stronger goalies. I think in respect to many of the Oiler issues if you climb up far enough up the ladder you find the real problem.

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#66 @Oilanderp
December 13 2013, 11:10AM
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The average IQ on this site seems to be banana. If the mouthbreathers here are any indication of the fan base in general, I am moving to Edmonton and starting a pitchfork manufacturing plant.

I am going to become richer than economic Jesus.

Feel free to click the trash button while drooling on your bibs. Don't forget to comb your knucklehair. Now come on down and buy a brand new shiny pitchfork. You like shiny things, don't you?

Riiiiiiiiich! $$

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#67 Rod
December 13 2013, 11:40AM
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@Oilerz4life

... or send him to to Panthers along with Eberle and we can take Thomas and and a big f*n defenceman...

but either way... move him out ... problem is noone else wants him now so you will have to dangle some other juicy trade bait out there!

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#68 aceglfr
December 13 2013, 12:21PM
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Dubnyk has had 8 years to get better, he is now the worst goalie in the nhl, on most teams he wouldn't even make it on their farm team, but on the oil we stick with him no matter what. HE IS NOT #1 GOALIE. The media loves Dubnyk I don't know why. He lets in four goals and they say he had a great game, I suppose if he lets in less than five its a great game compared to a pylon. I am certain if we had a cardboard cutout of Dubnyk standing on his feet and placed in the crease we would have won over half the games that we lost. Analyzing some of the softies he lets in 1) under his pads when he is on his knees. 2) to far out of his net to get back in time. 3) if someone is blocking his view while he is on his knees he doesn't seem to look around them to find the puck. 4) Any shot from the blue line has an 80% chance of going in. These are just a few of the inaduaqcies that have been there since the begining of the season. I am sure Chabot must have been working on some of these problems but every game he is in we gaurnteed to give up a couple of softies. If you look at the games we lose its usually by one or two. Dubnyk has not had a good game this season contrary to what the media think. I am fed up the defense getting blamed all the time about time Dubnyk face the facts and admit he is not the goalie everybody expected him to be. If I see Dubnyk is starting I usually buy a sports select ticket for Oilers to lose and he has won me money with his losing consistency. It sounds like I am a Dubnyk hater but I think he is a great human being too nice to be a goalie. He needs a little Hextall in him. Have you ever seen Dubnyk give anybody the chop to clear them out of the way, he is probably like excuse me do you mind moving to right a little I can't see. Too nice to be a goalie

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#69 LOIL99
December 13 2013, 03:21PM
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Zarny wrote:

When Dubnyk was letting in beach balls and shots from 40 ft to start the year he was most certainly part of the problem.

And capable might make the playoffs; but it won't win the Stanley Cup ;-)

That's true. We would have lost by 3 goals instead of 4 on those nights he let in a bad one (last night is an outlier).

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#70 LOIL99
December 13 2013, 03:28PM
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@@Oilanderp

You think this is bad? Listen to the post game call in shows. Strudwick has never been so many peoples "dude" and "brah". And whoever has a bad night always "blows man".

Example. "Dude, Dubie blows man. He's gotta go bro. Trade him for Lucic." *slurp *radio interference *sweet jacked up pickup truck redlines

But what can you expect, Hall is the king mouthbreather (literally and figuratively) and he is the future of the franchise.

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