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 Jason
December 12 2013, 12:33PM
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I would really like to know what Kevin Lowe's definition of winning is.

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#52 Death Metal Nightmare
December 12 2013, 12:43PM
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seriously posting numbers inflated by 9000 shots on goal against (and then RE-ADJUSTING THEM) is how youre ranking Dubnyk?

just look at his talent, man. it's trash. he has the paws of a tiny kitten whacking a ball around for rebound control or finding loose pucks. he has the body of a 12 year old stiff wooden-boy ("that's not boy that's a piece of s***" - The Terry's by Tim and Eric) at 6'5" when it comes to technique and he anticipates going down so early that it's not even a "tell" anymore.

if he's in this organization after this year i'll never watch an Oilers game again.

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#53 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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#54 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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#55 Rotten Ron
December 12 2013, 10:34AM
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Good work Jonathan, enjoy the era- adjusted storys. Any chance of adding playoff numbers?

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#56 @Oilanderp
December 12 2013, 11:45AM
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Have you considered finding a way to further calibrate these save percentages in terms of the team's record?

I don't think anyone would disagree that it is easier to play goalie for a great team. And no, I don't want you to get into shot quality. I think it would be informative to see a further modified save percentage that took into account the team's record during the time said save percentages were achieved.

Worthy endeavor or no?

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#57 Derek
December 12 2013, 12:26PM
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Imagine if Bill Ranford was the Oilers goalie coach. We wouldn't be having this silly conversation.

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#58 Freewheeling Freddie
December 12 2013, 03:36PM
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Cujo and those playoff teams the Oilers had in 97 98 were so much fun to watch led by my favorite Oiler of the nineties Dougie Weight. Being a low budget team we always had some exciting playoff hockey to watch. Almost all those goalies had something that DOOBIE will never get to experience with the Oilers, playoff hockey. He will be gone after this season

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#59 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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#60 @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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#61 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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#62 Johnnydapunk
December 12 2013, 03:13PM
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Really impressive article with insane goalie stats !!! Those names do bring back memories. Pokey Reddick was a legend for me and I always thought goalie Bob was fairly decent and steady (besides Fuhr and Moog of course)

I do remember going to watch one of the open training camps ages ago and one thing that stuck in my mind was that the a goalie named Darren Beals who despite never making the Oil and spending time at the Cape, he was one of the fastest skaters I had ever seen. He was actually faster then a fair few players despite having old school heavy brown pads on, hopping over the boards and flying around! I guess he was a better skater then goalie saying that :-p

But this article was nice to read :-))

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#63 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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#64 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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#65 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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#66 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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#67 S cottV
December 12 2013, 12:08PM
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Pretty sure MacT would be considering all possibilities surrounding Dubnyk and Bryz.

Can either one or both in tandem, give the team the goaltending it is going to need? Will Bryz stay if the Oilers want him to?

In the meantime, he would be looking at any potential upgrades at centre, first rotation d men and any high end goaltenders that might become available.

I just think that with better personnel in front of the goaltenders and top end team systems embraced by the players - we might just find that the goaltending is better than we think.

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#68 Jimmy
December 12 2013, 12:24PM
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madjam wrote:

Assistant GM canned as well . Sort of like doing MacT. And Howson in same day . Downsizing as Burke appears to be doing it all himself . Maybe there is a lesson for us ?

If Oilers had Burke instead of Lowe we would be talking playoffs.

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#69 Death Metal Nightmare
December 12 2013, 12:48PM
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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.

you're insane. "shots on goal" doesnt mean crap. let's see the % of quality scoring chances and how many he saves or leaks in.

he has so many goals against in his career that "should have been saves" that you MIGHT have a point if most of those were saved.

he has NO confidence back there and the mental fortitude of a 10 year old Squirt goalie. im waiting for the tears on camera when someone does a wind up slapper on a breakaway and proceeds to just let the puck's momentum go through his 5 hole while he's jumping in the air to go down. the scoring player laughs and pisses himself in the corner while crying also.

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#70 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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