Missing out on goaltenders

Jonathan Willis
June 21 2013 09:21AM

One by one, the top free agent goaltenders in Europe and out of college hockey have made decisions about their NHL future. So far, none of them has opted for the Edmonton Oilers, a team desperately in need of rebuilding their depth chart in net, and one that was optimistic earlier in the summer about attracting somebody like Antti Raanta (pictured above; ended up in Chicago).

Where does Edmonton go now?

Number Two

With Nikolai Khabibulin on the way out of town – and given his injury history that is without question the right decision – the Oilers options are limited to trade or NHL free agency.

In trade, we’ve previously looked at the Anaheim Ducks as a possible target, and they very much remain one. Frederik Andersen is a player who has youth, size and a sterling track record on his side – last season he was a 0.929 save percentage goalie in the AHL; the year prior he managed a 0.943 save percentage in Sweden. Blocked on the depth chart by Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller, and with highly-touted John Gibson the team’s probable goalie of the future, Andersen is a player who could be a very good fit as Edmonton’s backup.

In free agency, there are a number of solid veteran options (we’ve considered those previously, too). Ray Emery, Jose Theodore and Jason Labarbera are the three that strike me as the best potential fits/most likely to be available for the Oilers, but there are others. There are also less experienced options. Commonly mentioned are Boston’s Anton Khudobin, who could be a good fit because he’s been good both in limited NHL minutes and in longer stints in Europe and the minors. Also commonly mentioned is Thomas Greiss, who has been good in limited NHL minutes, but has been much less impressive in the minors and Europe.

Number Three

Yann Danis didn’t have a very good year, but realistically he’s the class of player the Oilers are likely looking at for the number three role, unless they manage to steal a not quite NHL ready prospect from another organization.

Personally, given the choice between another journeyman AHL netminder and Danis, I’d likely stick with the incumbent. His longer track record is excellent (he was the AHL’s goalie of the year last season) and he rebounded in the playoffs after a poor regular season. Unless there’s something that hasn’t been publicized that gives the team reason for concern, simply switching to a different AHL veteran seems unlikely to gain the Oilers much.

The exception would be if the Oilers see an AHL veteran that they feel has NHL potential, something that seems unlikely – looking at the AHL goaltending list, there aren’t a lot of non-prospect types that jump out as future NHL’ers. There's also the possibility of adding a lower-tier European - such as Bernhard Starkbaum - though it's debatable how much of an upgrade that is.

Recently around the Nation Network

At Canucks Army, Jeff Angus looks at Diamond in the Rough Free Agents (Forwards). While it's written from a Vancouver perspective, every team in the league would like to find an unheralded free agent who knocks it out of the park for them. Is there a player on this list that qualifies?:

Click the link to read more, or alternately, feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

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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 Mr common sense
June 21 2013, 09:28AM
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Umm...sorry why are we narrowing our lens to a #2 and 3 goalie only? What has Dooby done to make us fully confident in him? Is the price of goalies during the year not astronomically higher and selection leaner? If I'm MacT I'm looking at Mike Smith for sure, he's a battler and a proven goalie. under Eakins the Oil will play a tighter game and Smith would thrive. I'd also be looking at the Luongo option....I know it sounds nuts but he alone could propel the Oil into the playoffs.

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#2 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
June 21 2013, 09:29AM
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As the coming season unfolds, Edmonton will become the shining beacon of possible destinations for next yrs crop of European goaltenders. Maybe it's a good thing we missed out on this summers group.

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#3 Spydyr
June 21 2013, 09:32AM
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The Oilers have missed out on a lot of things during the Lowe era. Such as the playoffs for seven years.

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#4 John Chambers
June 21 2013, 09:32AM
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LaBarbera has some great numbers. He's probably the best "backup" goalie available. He would be my pick if I were the Silver Fox.

Emery and Khudobin could actually push Dubnyk, but I doubt either of them could outplay #40.

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#6 StuckOutHere
June 21 2013, 09:46AM
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@Mr common sense

What has Dooby done to make us fully confident in him? Put up decent, improving numbers season over season with one of the worst team defences in front of him.

What has Mike Smith done to make you fully confident that he's an upgrade on Dooby? One good season? Other than that a lack lustre career. We'd have to pay over market value to get him too. Tell me how that makes any sense, let alone being "common sense".

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#7 Mr common sense
June 21 2013, 09:52AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

There's a link on NHL vets above. My take on Smith is there. Personally, I think the love for Smith over Dubnyk as starter is a case of believing the grass is always greener, even when it isn't.

Sure. Makes sense I guess.

What about Lehtonen? I hear Ruff could lure Miller to Dallas, as Miller wants to head West anyway to be closer to his LA wife. That would make Lehtonen at 5.9M for the next 5 yrs an option. Solid goalie.

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#9 devon
June 21 2013, 09:57AM
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If Toronto trades for Bernier then Scrivens becomes an option too....I think Dubnyk is better than fine...

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#10 Mr common sense
June 21 2013, 09:57AM
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StuckOutHere wrote:

What has Dooby done to make us fully confident in him? Put up decent, improving numbers season over season with one of the worst team defences in front of him.

What has Mike Smith done to make you fully confident that he's an upgrade on Dooby? One good season? Other than that a lack lustre career. We'd have to pay over market value to get him too. Tell me how that makes any sense, let alone being "common sense".

Yawn....being "stuck out there" has made you forget that Smith has playoff experience, has worked with Sean Burke the last 3 yrs (google his comments on his positional play) and would likely sign between 4-5M.

What has Dooby done? Oh ya..you were telling me what he has done. So we agree

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#11 Jesse
June 21 2013, 09:58AM
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So, if the Oilers acquire Khudobin, we'd go from having "Khabby" to "Khoo-dee".

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#12 StuckOutHere
June 21 2013, 09:59AM
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@Mr common sense

Is Lehtonen an improvement on Dubnyk? Worth the cost to acquire him and the cap hit? I genuinely would like to hear you make that case.

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#13 Mr. Common sense
June 21 2013, 10:00AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Off the top of my head, a) that's a lot of money and b) I'm leery of his injury history. No arguing he's a solid goalie, though.

Sheesh! So I guess it will be more of the same in net! No options other than washed up back-ups......hmm....I have a feeling MacT agrees with us fans who don't trust Dooby. That begets creative solutions. I look forward to it

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#14 Me common sense
June 21 2013, 10:04AM
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StuckOutHere wrote:

Is Lehtonen an improvement on Dubnyk? Worth the cost to acquire him and the cap hit? I genuinely would like to hear you make that case.

100% improvement. Excellent formation goalie, covers angles exceptionally well and has always posted strong numbers behind an awkward Dallas D. Meteoric ally better, at this time, than Dooby. Alas, 5.9M is a pretty penny no doubt. Another of Tammy's mistakes we have to live with I guess, for damn sure MacT would not have offered Dooby 3.5M. And before you lose it.....google what Cory Schneider makes.

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#15 Spydyr
June 21 2013, 10:05AM
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Mac-T stated he is not happy with the goaltending.Either am I, lets see if he talks the talk or back up his words with action.

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#16 Mr common sense
June 21 2013, 10:07AM
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Spydyr wrote:

Mac-T stated he is not happy with the goaltending.Either am I, lets see if he talks the talk or back up his words with action.

Exactly. Pheuff. Been a while since the GM of the Oil had "common sense"

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#17 StuckOutHere
June 21 2013, 10:08AM
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Mr common sense wrote:

Yawn....being "stuck out there" has made you forget that Smith has playoff experience, has worked with Sean Burke the last 3 yrs (google his comments on his positional play) and would likely sign between 4-5M.

What has Dooby done? Oh ya..you were telling me what he has done. So we agree

Michael Leighton has playoff experience. Should we trade for him too?

The oilers' issue was not in net this season plain and simple. I agree with getting someone in to push and compete with Dubnyk, but Smith and Lehtonen would cost too much, would barely be an upgrade and would tie way too much money up in our goaltending position. See how that's working for Vancouver right now.

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#18 Mr common sense
June 21 2013, 10:12AM
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StuckOutHere wrote:

Michael Leighton has playoff experience. Should we trade for him too?

The oilers' issue was not in net this season plain and simple. I agree with getting someone in to push and compete with Dubnyk, but Smith and Lehtonen would cost too much, would barely be an upgrade and would tie way too much money up in our goaltending position. See how that's working for Vancouver right now.

Leighton? I don't know, let me check his numbers and scouting report, must be readily available like Smith's is.

Ic. You would plan on keeping Dooby if we got Smith or Lehtonen and hence the trepidation with the money. See I'd lose Dooby in 3min if I landed a solid goalie and then proceed with the current planning of searching for a 2 and 3

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#19 Jesse
June 21 2013, 10:12AM
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I, like some other Dubnyk supporters I'm sure, don't much understand MacT's apprehension on trusting Dubnyk long-term. He seems to be trending up each season. This year, he posted a slightly above league average Save Percentage while facing a ridiculous amount of shots and while playing behind a horrific defense. Only two goalies faced more shots and came out with a higher Save Percentage (Ryan Miller and Antti Niemi). In my opinion, he's not going to win the Vezina, but he's as good of a goalie as you need to be a contender.

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#20 rickithebear
June 21 2013, 10:15AM
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Dubnyk was a top 10 save% goalie and the second best high shot count save% goalie in the league.

He is a 7W-0L 1.29GA .940SV% goalie with team canada in Spengler and WC this year.

In the 3 years as a starter Dubnyk has faced 32SH/gm. Has been league average or better all three years.

Generates 109/224 points .486 win% on a .426 team the other goalies have 72/200 points for a .360 win%

What Goalie in there right mind would want to play in an organization that has a GM that thinks a top 10 goalie with terrible D is not a starter.

If I am dubnyk, I do my final year in Edmonton then take my ass to NJD who only give up 22 shots/gm. 10 less per game.

He can be a 40+ win and 1.76GA goalie for 5-6 milion a year.

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#21 DC
June 21 2013, 10:15AM
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Whatever happened to Benjamin Conz. He looked great in WJHC. Never got drafted. Have't heard about him since.

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#22 LinkfromHyrule
June 21 2013, 10:16AM
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@Mr common sense

we aren't getting either of those options without an excessive overpayment. I would rather see a proven backup come in, or at best a goalie who could push dubnyk. Dubnyk is an NHL caliber goalie but he's only 27... most goalies don't hit their prime until 30+

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#23 Mr common sense
June 21 2013, 10:19AM
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LinkfromHyrule wrote:

we aren't getting either of those options without an excessive overpayment. I would rather see a proven backup come in, or at best a goalie who could push dubnyk. Dubnyk is an NHL caliber goalie but he's only 27... most goalies don't hit their prime until 30+

Corey Schneider Carey price Corey Crawford Tukka rask John quick

=less than 30

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#24 DSF
June 21 2013, 10:24AM
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Eric Francis ‏@EricFrancis 13m

BREAKING: Water is up to row 10 at Saddledome. Dressing rooms completely submerged. Jumbotron rm & all equipment destroyed. #yycflood #NHL

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#25 StuckOutHere
June 21 2013, 10:24AM
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Me common sense wrote:

100% improvement. Excellent formation goalie, covers angles exceptionally well and has always posted strong numbers behind an awkward Dallas D. Meteoric ally better, at this time, than Dooby. Alas, 5.9M is a pretty penny no doubt. Another of Tammy's mistakes we have to live with I guess, for damn sure MacT would not have offered Dooby 3.5M. And before you lose it.....google what Cory Schneider makes.

3.5 is a pretty decent contract for your starting goalie. It's by no means a value contract but it isn't terrible either.

What would you be willing to sign Smith for to get him in Edm? You can bet he'll be looking for a raise and someone'll be dumb enough to give him one.

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#26 Mr common sense
June 21 2013, 10:28AM
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StuckOutHere wrote:

3.5 is a pretty decent contract for your starting goalie. It's by no means a value contract but it isn't terrible either.

What would you be willing to sign Smith for to get him in Edm? You can bet he'll be looking for a raise and someone'll be dumb enough to give him one.

Absolutely 3.5-4M is unbelievable money for a starting goalie. Gillis was shrewd to get Schneider tied up like that.

I'd offer Smith 20M/4yrs. Then dump Dooby to the Isles or NJ for a dman like Hamonic. So I've immediately upgraded my D and goaltending in 3minutes.

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#27 Spydyr
June 21 2013, 10:30AM
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Jesse wrote:

I, like some other Dubnyk supporters I'm sure, don't much understand MacT's apprehension on trusting Dubnyk long-term. He seems to be trending up each season. This year, he posted a slightly above league average Save Percentage while facing a ridiculous amount of shots and while playing behind a horrific defense. Only two goalies faced more shots and came out with a higher Save Percentage (Ryan Miller and Antti Niemi). In my opinion, he's not going to win the Vezina, but he's as good of a goalie as you need to be a contender.

My take:

His compete level.

His loss of concentration.Allowing many bad goals.

The need for a legit goalie option to push Dubbie.

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#28 Aitch
June 21 2013, 10:32AM
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I'm not too worried about the goalies they've missed out on. Every goalie that comes over from Europe is taking the job of another North American goalie in another system. That only frees up other options. And, as we've seen time-and-time again with goalies, they can blossom overnight and seemingly from anywhere. Dubnyk might win the Vezina next year with a new coaching system, a year's maturity from those in front of him and a little extra puck-luck. Other than wins his numbers are very close to Corey Crawford's this past season, for example.

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#29 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
June 21 2013, 10:33AM
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DC wrote:

Whatever happened to Benjamin Conz. He looked great in WJHC. Never got drafted. Have't heard about him since.

That Jack Campbell kid as well. He was the cats meow of the world juniors 3 yrs ago. Think he was with the Stars. Gibson from the Ducks would surely net a handsome reward, if Murray came across a motivated buyer.

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#30 StuckOutHere
June 21 2013, 10:34AM
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Mr common sense wrote:

Absolutely 3.5-4M is unbelievable money for a starting goalie. Gillis was shrewd to get Schneider tied up like that.

I'd offer Smith 20M/4yrs. Then dump Dooby to the Isles or NJ for a dman like Hamonic. So I've immediately upgraded my D and goaltending in 3minutes.

3.5 on a short contract for dubey is too much but 5mil for a long contract to a goalie who isn't an upgrade on the previous tender is "shrewd"?

As my old man used to say, "Give your head a shake kid".

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#31 2004Z06
June 21 2013, 10:38AM
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Dubnyk is not the problem, an AHL level D core and a group of forwards that don't backcheck is the problem. Dubnyk will be just fine once the team in front of him improves.

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#32 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
June 21 2013, 10:38AM
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I hear Shea Weber's a pretty good goaltender as well...

Word has it, pucks stop and fall before him, like bullets in the matrix.

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#33 GVBlackhawk
June 21 2013, 10:44AM
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DSF wrote:

Eric Francis ‏@EricFrancis 13m

BREAKING: Water is up to row 10 at Saddledome. Dressing rooms completely submerged. Jumbotron rm & all equipment destroyed. #yycflood #NHL

That's a great metaphor for the Flames upcoming season.

Now that Tippett has signed an extension in the desert, who is going to coach your team in Vancouver?

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#34 rickithebear
June 21 2013, 10:52AM
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Goalies cannot score they Cannot prevent shot all they can do is stop shots.

the league average for Sv% is .914 to .916.

Carey price last 5 Qualified starter years. 08-09 .905 09-10 .912 10-11 .923 11-12 .916 12-13 .905 A .914 Save % goalie facing 29.7 SH/gm a .910sv% goalie 4 of 5 years.

Dubnyk 3 qualified starter years 10-11 .916 11-12 .914 12-13 .920 .917 Sv% facing 31.8SH/gm

M. Smith has 4 qualified years 08-09 .916 TBL 09-10 .900 TBL 11-12 .930 PHX 12-13 .910 PHX

.917 SV% facing 30.8 SH/GM Average or below 3 of 4 years

Bernier: All I need to Know is Dubnyk beat him out Head to head on team canada.

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#35 Kirk
June 21 2013, 11:07AM
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JT, have you seen this article

Ranking the top 10 goalies in NHL draft

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nhl/columnist/woodlief/2013/06/20/nhl-draft-top-goalies-red-line-report/2441523/

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#36 DSF
June 21 2013, 11:09AM
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GVBlackhawk wrote:

That's a great metaphor for the Flames upcoming season.

Now that Tippett has signed an extension in the desert, who is going to coach your team in Vancouver?

If the Flames can't play in the Saddledome, maybe the league should merge the Flames and Oilers.

Might be enough players for a real NHL team.

The coaching situation in Vancouver is interesting.

Tippett's new deal is contingent upon the sale of the team to the new owners who want to keep the team in Phoenix but that deal has hit some snags.

It appears that, other than Tippett, the Canucks are still looking at Tortorella, John Stevens and Scott Arniel.

Tortorella would be the most entertaining.

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#37 DSF
June 21 2013, 11:14AM
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gary lawless ‏@garylawless 4m

NHL source tells me John Tortorella has been offered #Canucks job and two sides are close to a deal #nhl #canucks Torts will coach Canucks

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#38 gongshow
June 21 2013, 11:15AM
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Tim Thomas?

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#39 oldhippy
June 21 2013, 11:18AM
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Sheesh. No love for Dubby. Funny how everyone says we over value our prospects and our fringe players, yet everyone undervalues our goalie.

By every metric, he is a starter in the NHL. His worst stat is gaa and that still puts him 27th against ALL goalies. This includes back ups as well as goalies with much tighter defence's. From all I've read on the Nation most would say that we have a lot of 3/4 and 5/6/7 defencemen and no real first pairing D. Yet Dubnyk is 14th in Save% and TOI, while being 27th in gaa. 14th in a 30 team league. By my calculations that makes him a better than average starter. Calgary's hero, Kipper, did not become a starter until he was almost 27. Dubnyk has better stats than Lehtonen in all categories and without the concussion issues and large contract.

Dubnyk has had better stats every year he has played in Edmonton. Every time he gets more starts, he puts up better numbers.

My take....Get a decent young back-up that can challenge him. Get him one decent first pairing defenceman. Let him get more ice time. He was 14th in TOI this past season. Get him in to top ten workhorse goalies. Do all this and then see where he and the Oilers are.

I think it is ridiculous the way people rip this guy, with the D playing in front of him.

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#40 Smokey
June 21 2013, 11:21AM
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The Oilers need to pick up a quality UFA in Emery, Kubodin, Theodore, etc for 1.2-1.5 on a one or two year deal, or go after a veteren AHL from a organization deep with goaltending assets but offer no more then a second or third rounder. I'd offer 2 to 2.5 for Bryz as a backup on a one year. He's not a bad teamate, he is just nutz. I'd even kick tires on Timmy Thomas.

Over spend on quality defence to put in front of them instead. Where's ol Jussi Markkanen these days...lol

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#41 Taylor Gang
June 21 2013, 11:31AM
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Thoughts an prayers go out to Calgary, I was driving through Red Deer yesterday, even there wasn't too good.

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#42 Smokey
June 21 2013, 11:32AM
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rickithebear wrote:

Dubnyk was a top 10 save% goalie and the second best high shot count save% goalie in the league.

He is a 7W-0L 1.29GA .940SV% goalie with team canada in Spengler and WC this year.

In the 3 years as a starter Dubnyk has faced 32SH/gm. Has been league average or better all three years.

Generates 109/224 points .486 win% on a .426 team the other goalies have 72/200 points for a .360 win%

What Goalie in there right mind would want to play in an organization that has a GM that thinks a top 10 goalie with terrible D is not a starter.

If I am dubnyk, I do my final year in Edmonton then take my ass to NJD who only give up 22 shots/gm. 10 less per game.

He can be a 40+ win and 1.76GA goalie for 5-6 milion a year.

I think because hes so robotic people don't realize how good hes actually become and hard saves are look to easy. He still has a tendancy to let in a squeaker from 30 feet, but that usually after hes stop 15 shots in the period and 3 breakaways. People who say goaltending is a prob don't look at the numbers, and dwell on the odd stinker..920 SP with the worst defence next to Carolina last season is damn fine. Put him in Detroit or Boston or Chicago that would be .935.

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#43 Taylor Gang
June 21 2013, 11:33AM
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Anyways, barring a huge overpayment, it would be great to have a Bernier/Dubnyk tandem. They could split the load evenly, giving the other one plenty of time to rest.

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#44 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
June 21 2013, 11:36AM
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DSF wrote:

Eric Francis ‏@EricFrancis 13m

BREAKING: Water is up to row 10 at Saddledome. Dressing rooms completely submerged. Jumbotron rm & all equipment destroyed. #yycflood #NHL

You'd think Eric would've atleast included some underwater photographs as well on that tweet.

Half assed effort all around for Eric. Where's the passion.

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#45 SlowTalker
June 21 2013, 11:46AM
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DSF wrote:

gary lawless ‏@garylawless 4m

NHL source tells me John Tortorella has been offered #Canucks job and two sides are close to a deal #nhl #canucks Torts will coach Canucks

Is Gillis the new Mr.Dithers? Tortorella seems a poor choice after losing out on Eakins. At least he didn't get a media job. He's definitely not an upgrade on Vigneault. I look forward to the Oilers playing the Canucks this year. Thanks!

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#46 washed up
June 21 2013, 11:46AM
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@oldhippy

Agree, the Oilers goaltending is 1 of a few things that's actually NHL caliber.

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#47 nuge2nail
June 21 2013, 11:57AM
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Oiler Domination To Follow

As an oilers fan living in Calgary, here's my take. We need to upgrade our goaltending plain and simple. Thank god MacT agrees.

For years I watched a talentless flames team, compete for a playoff spot year after year. Not because of leadership, skill, coaching, great offense or defense. Bunch of pylons and overhyped non motivated players who contended every year- simply because of one reason. Goaltending. Kipper stood on his head, and gave them a chance to win every night. Outplaying the other teams goalies almost every game.

Flames fans year after year"you guys need a goalie" yes thanks tips. They say this because they are used to watching excellence in net and don't understand why we don't expect the same. Why we settle for less.

We need our goalie to be Better than the other goalie most nights, and not let in a soft goal every third game. When we have not average, not improving but spectacular goaltending we will finally end the longest active playoff less streak in the NHL.

We are now the islanders, leafs, and panthers of the NHL.

Please trade two seconds for Luongo, he will get us competing for the playoffs, provide leadership and stability. An ideally create a trade chip asset in Dubnyk in which we can use to get a top 4 dman. I imagine the rest of the team will play with a new found confidence with Luo in net.

Ps. Great goalies make mediocre defences look good, not the other way around.

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#48 Taylor Gang
June 21 2013, 11:59AM
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Shouldn't goaltending be priority number three?

Defense is a clear #1 Complete revamp of bottom 6 is #2 . . . . . . . Goaltending at #3

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#49 madjam
June 21 2013, 12:00PM
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Could go for Luongo or Miller , or cheap out and bring Deslaurier back .

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#50 DSF
June 21 2013, 12:02PM
Trash it!
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trashes
Cheers
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cheers
SlowTalker wrote:

Is Gillis the new Mr.Dithers? Tortorella seems a poor choice after losing out on Eakins. At least he didn't get a media job. He's definitely not an upgrade on Vigneault. I look forward to the Oilers playing the Canucks this year. Thanks!

Like many teams, after 7 years the Canucks needed a new voice and they'll certainly get that with Tortorella.

How the Canucks veterans respond to his style should be interesting.

As for his record...he's been a coach since 1986.

He's won ACHL, AHL and NHL championships as a head coach.

Since becoming a head coach in the NHL in 2001 his teams have only missed the playoffs 3 times in 11 years and, of course won the cup in 2004.

His record in the NHL 410-340-67

I think people react more to his style than his substance since he certainly has a great track record as a coach.

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