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 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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#52 @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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#53 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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#54 2004Z06
December 12 2013, 11:14AM
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mlcselli wrote:

It's true. Confirmed on TSN. What a rotten thing to do at Christmas. I don't disagree with the decision, only the timing. Business is business I guess.

It's ok, I am sure the severance package is more than compensation for the timing.

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#55 madjam
December 12 2013, 11:17AM
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mlcselli wrote:

It's true. Confirmed on TSN. What a rotten thing to do at Christmas. I don't disagree with the decision, only the timing. Business is business I guess.

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 ?

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#56 Tikkanese
December 12 2013, 11:21AM
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mlcselli wrote:

It's true. Confirmed on TSN. What a rotten thing to do at Christmas. I don't disagree with the decision, only the timing. Business is business I guess.

I'd say it was a gift to not have to deal with that roster anymore.

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#57 @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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#58 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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#59 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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#60 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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#61 oilerman53
December 12 2013, 12:34PM
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My take on Dubnyk is for a guy with his stature. 6'5 and most likely around above five feet on his knees. He sure does get beat high an awful lot! Watching the quick reflexes of any decent goalie in the NHL and watching Dubnyk wave clumsily at the puck tells you its all his positioning.

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#62 Spaceman Spiff
December 12 2013, 01:00PM
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To me, all of this illustrates a depressing “big picture” – today’s NHL game relies far too much on its goaltending. And that’s just not very fun.

I’m 41 and I’m old enough to remember the NHL hockey in the 1980s. I can tell you that, as a hockey-mad teenager, I had absolutely no idea what Grant Fuhr’s save-percentage was back then. That’s because we never heard much about SV% in the media. All that really seemed to matter, at that time, was goals-against average and, most importantly, wins.

We all know why, of course. It was a more offensive era and things could be pretty loosey-goosey in the defensive zone. Goalie equipment was smaller, as were all of the players.

Yes I know – you’ve heard this before. It was a more flowing game back then … even though all of the players less talented than they are now (and don’t get me wrong, the overall talent level in this league has gone up since then). But the talent level nowadays isn’t translating well to the style of the game.

Back then, we made fun of teams that dumped and chased and gave up the puck willingly. We mocked teams that bumped-and-grinded behind the net and along the boards (the word “cycle” was never a word I remember even hearing until the 2000s). The teams in the Patrick and Adams Divisions were the teams that resorted to that style of play and it was generally accepted that it was because they didn’t have the front-line skill to run-and-gun. And, thankfully, they were isolated … and usually pretty beatable in the Stanley Cup final because skill almost always beat grinding.

Nowadays, however, if don’t dump the puck in and chase it, your team is not likely to do well. If you aren’t able to “establish a cycle,” you’re done. It now means a point-a-game forward is considered a superstar. It now means a 30-goal scorer is a sniper. And it now means a goalie like Dubnyk can stop 91 per cent of his shots and be viewed as a mediocre-at-best (which, in today's context is quite correct).

All of this points to a game that’s become so systemic, so quagmired and so over-coached that one player on the ice has become the absolute fulcrum of a team’s success. We’ve all had to become statistical gurus because of it – and not just for GAA or SV%, but for advanced sabremetrics like Corsi and RealCorsi and whatever.

Yes, I know – it’s part of the natural evolution of the game. But I’m sorry – it’s just sad.

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#63 gcw_rocks
December 12 2013, 01:31PM
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I was a big Moog fan as a kid and so this warms my heart!

Definitely time for bigger nets. When I was a kid goalies were my favourite players because of all the crazy acrobatics they had to do to make saves.

Now, I have little interest in them because all they need to do is get their positioning right and let the puck hit them. Bigger nets would force goalies to become athletic again and it would be nice to see a few more goals in a game.

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#64 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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#65 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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#66 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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#67 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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#68 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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#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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