Dubnyk and JDD: Man-O-A-Man-O

If you’ve watched the Edmonton Oilers goaltending situation the past several seasons with amusement while awaiting something approaching clarity, you might want to circle Jan. 16, give or take a day, on your calendar.

That, unless I misunderstood what was explained to us by coach Pat Quinn today, is when the Oilers will finally have a verdict on the severity and status of Nikolai Khabibulin’s back injury — the date marks the end of an eight-week window for assessing his cranky spine.

That’s when, if my suspicions and instincts are right, the Oilers will announce Khabibulin needs back surgery and that he’ll be done for the rest of the season. And that’s when, at long last, I’m hoping the Oilers actually take the opportunity to turn chickensh*it into chicken salad, instead of the other way around, when it comes to their goaltending.

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On or about Jan. 16, I’d love to hear Quinn tell fans they’ll be getting a steady diet of Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk for the balance of the season. A 50-50 split right through to Game 82 to allow management to assess who’s who and what’s what in the crease.

Does that make too much sense, or none at all?

Getting it right

If the Oilers pull the pin on Khabibulin Jan. 16, the announcement will come with 35 games left in the season.

If and when that happens, it only makes sense to me that, beginning with a game against Colorado Jan. 18, Quinn begins a rotation that sees Dubnyk and Deslauriers split the workload evenly.

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With both goaltenders stuck behind Khabibulin and his $3.75-million salary for the next three seasons, and with both needing waivers to be sent to the minors in 2010-11, what better time to sort things out and get a real feel for both of them?

Can Deslauriers, 25, prove conclusively he’s got the game to be an NHL starter? He hadn’t had that chance until this season. He certainly didn’t get it last season when he was stuck behind Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson and played in just 10 games.

This season, with Khabibulin on the shelf, it’s been the other extreme. His start against Phoenix at Rexall Place tonight will be his 21st in the last 22 games. I’m thinking that’s a bit much. How about a happy medium a split with Dubnyk could provide?

Likewise, I want to see Dubnyk, who has been shuttled between Edmonton and Springfield and left to rust on the bench since Khabibulin went down. He’s seen action in just two games with the Oilers this season, twice being shipped to the AHL to get games.

Dubnyk, 23, like Deslauriers, deserves the best chance to develop and to succeed, and in my books that means facing some rubber with regularity, not once a month or so between cheerleading gigs on the end of the bench.

What’s to lose?

Despite what president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe said on Oilers Lunch with Bob Stauffer Monday, I’m assuming management has given up on the fantasy of making the playoffs, even if they won’t say so.

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Instead of riding Deslauriers ragged in some futile playoff push, send him out there every second game and simply say, "Just stop pucks. It’s your turn. Show us what you’ve got."

Let’s see what happens to Deslauriers confidence and his numbers, which stand at 9-12-2 with a 2.86 GAA and .906 saves-percentage through 23 appearances this season.

Same goes for Dubnyk, who was drafted 14th overall in 2004 (two years after Deslauriers). He’s damn sure better than the 0-1-0 record, 5.38 GAA and .800 saves-percentage he’s accumulated in two appearances here.

Dubnyk hasn’t had a chance to shine. If I’m Steve Tambellini, I want to see what he brings to the table knowing he’s going to get 17-18 starts against NHL shooters.

Maybe neither one is ready for a steady NHL workload behind Khabibulin next season. Maybe both of them are. One or the other? No matter how it shakes out, having more information on both of them can’t be a bad thing.

— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

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  • RCN

    You're bang on Robin. Either play them 50-50 (or even 60-40) OR keep Dubnyk down for the remainder of the season and find a veteran journeyman to backup JDD. None of this Dubnyk riding the pine BS.

    • More like find a veteran journeyman JDD can back up.

      I get where Robin is coming from, but man it makes me sick to see us lose because of weak goaltending night after night (OK. Amongst other things I suppose).

      Guess I can't buy into the whole DFF thing. To my mind, a pro athlete tries his best to compete every night and so does his team. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but developing players in the NHL doesn't sit well with me. If JDD and DD aren't strong enough for the NHL, send 'em back until they are.

      Fans of pro sport don't go watch the best league and the best athletes in the world to chart the progress of the next "maybe". They go to see the best (or at least I do). As far as I'm concerned, the only players on this team should be those that make it more competitive. Now or into the future.

      Wouldn't it be better if Pat Quinn was spending his time in practices getting the team ready for the next opponent as opposed to "teaching the basics"?

      • You don't have to buy into the DFF — it's in full swing already whether you like it or not. This team is 29th and it's TRYING to win games.

        Hemsky is gone. Khabibulin will be gone for the duration of the season. A smart trade or two, plus putting the kids in net assures 30th spot — and that's with everybody playing their best and not doing anything as unsavory as "throwing" games. Developing in the NHL is fine when you take away the pressure of pushing for a playoff (please, let's not fantasize that this team will make a heroic charge into the post-season with a break or two) spot and when the team has identified that it's clearly in rebuild mode.

        Send them back? You mean to that sh*t show in Springfield? I don't see either guy making progress by getting shelled in the AHL every night and that's exactly what will happen with the Falcons. At least the sh*tshow here adds another zero to the pay stub every two weeks

        • Yeah, I know. Of course you're right.

          I'm one of those guys that still believes in the romance of sport. You know, where the team figures it out and claws its way back to respectability. Gagner's light turns on. Nilsson's light stays on, JDD has a revelation, Mike Comrie seeks redemption, Penner proves 'em all wrong. They drag themselves up to 9th, 3 points out with great promise on the horizon. We make a few moves in the summer and a prospect knocks it outta the park in camp. I guess its always been about the fight for me, not necessarily the win.

          Nice work again Robin.

  • I couldn't agree more. Dubnyk has received the raw end of this deal I think. He was supposed to be playing this season – not riding the pine in Edmonton. Although his bank account probably appreciates his time in the NHL instead of the bus trips to Wilkes Barre Scranton.

    Both of these guys have gotten raw deals being in other organizations farm systems & now because of an injury we might be stunting another goaltenders development.

    A 50/50 split would put us well on our way to the DFF barring a hot streak out of one of them.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Regarding Dubnyk and his waiver eligibility:

    Can they not simply chose to keep him in the A from the start next year without subjecting him to waivers. Or does simply cutting him at camp, make him wiaver eligible?

    … if that makes sense..

  • RCN

    I said the same thing in an earlier thread so I totally agree with giving Dubnyk 50/50 on the starts as well as giving our younger players all the major minutes from here on in this season. Under this circumstance I can stomach going to watch the rest of the games this season.

    • Hemmercules

      I was going to write the exact same thing. The fact that they SHOULD go 50/50 with the two goalies tells me they won't. ~why start doing things right now??~

  • *rousing applause*
    If Oiler management doesn't subscribe to this approach I'm going to be severely disappointed!!
    Lets give Duber some serious NHL experience without any urgency for a win! Lets make the best out of this eye opening season!
    …game's on.

  • Yeah, heard that dumb bag of pucks talk today. "Expect the unexpected"…. Hmm let me guess tank the season and hope for Taylor Hall? Canada to loose to the unexpectible USA team. Wow double whammy for the Oilers. However Eberle clinched the tieing goal and Svenson pulled his team to a bronze medal. YEt the might crap tanks are losing to the coyotes. Speaking of which I bough tickets to the April 4th game in Phoenix as I'm there for a golf tourney. Go Tankers Go! Oiler Tankers that is…

    Eberle for Prime Minister!

  • Good call Robin, sadly though we have a management group that would likely trade an unproven NHL commodity like Eberle to the Islanders for Rolison because he might be reliable. Hopefully this one point we magically picked up on a goon call by the refs doesn't ruin our DFF hopes- PHX should have one this one in regular time.
    With Doan scoring the winner in OT tonight it has been quite a stretch for this skilled gritty centre who could have been an Oiler at the 95 draft.- are'nt we still looking for a centre like that…….
    Hometown fans chanted Doan Doan Doan as Oil brass stepped up to the podium and selected Steve Kelley ???? In know wtf but trust us-we know talent and how about passing up on Parise ? I'll stop here….. but watching our 7 million dollar man skate like he running through sand but he can win faceoffs- right ????
    If we are starting this rebuild and possible using the Hawkes master plan it would be nice for those that run the Oiler entertainment ie. music during the play stoppages watch one or two of the Hawkes home games as there would be a lesson learned about creating atmosphere within the building. It is bad enough we have to stomach the quality of the play of the team on the ice but it sounds like cheap bar during the stoppages.
    This whole organization is getting stale and needs an overhaul. If nothing else would someone within the Ent group watch a Hawkes game on Centre Ice…..can't imagine paying after tax dollars to go to this rink for a night of entertainment.

    • Funny how that happens when you play him 10 games in an entire season a year ago and then have him play a stretch of 21 of 22 games the next.

      Deslauriers hasn't looked sharp in either of his last two starts, particularly the loss in San Jose. It's not even so much the physical wear and tear as sending the same guy out night after night to tend goal for a team that's lost 10 of the last 11 games. What the Oilers need to do, if they have any clue whatsoever, is give Dubnyk the start against the Columbus.

      Hell, I wouldn't have any problem if they started the 50-50 split now.

  • Where did they come up with this "8 week window" before surgical determination. I didn't know that existed in any backcare guidelines. Nope, don't see it in Harrisons textbook or in any orthopedic manual. Brownlee why don't you do some journalistic investigation with your neighborhood orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon cuz I don't think there exists this magical 8 week window.

  • Phil

    Title for next blog report:


    step 1: insert stupid picture of Shawn Horcoff in one of his typical high energy exerting poses, face contorted, working hard to get nothing done.

    step 2: attache to a picture of Roberto Duran aka "Manos De Piedra"

    What do they have in common? Well, they both have Hands of Stone.

    Giving Horcoff the new official Oilogosphere nickname Roberto Duran, or even just Duran. Because they both have hands of stone, get it? Get it?

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          It's almost mind numbing, the guy has been one of the teams best 3 forwards (#1 some years…. I'd argue at least #2 every year) and yet it's constant calls to get rid of him).

          Edmonton is a wierd place, we want to get rid of our best players because they aren't elite.

          • Zamboni Driver

            Okay no one hates Horcoff.

            He's a fine player, fine. I'll even give you this year he's the Oilers second best forward.

            On a second last place team. Not exactly something for the ole hockey card.

            The anger is misdirected certainly but understandable because his salary has screwed the organization for years. People are venting about THAT, not about Horcoff himself.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Hardly, salary inflation will be here again soon with alot of young centers up for significant raises in the next couple of years.

            I would imagine he'll be 1 – 1.5 million overpaid for the duration of his contract. Not that big of a deal.

          • GSC

            Not that big of a deal. What can you get for $1 to $1.5 million a season these days?

            Oh, right, the Washington Capitals signed David Steckel to a three-year contract extension today for $3.3 million . . .

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            True, but theirs dozens and dozens of players accross the league that are "overpaid" by that much. Every team has 2-3 of them.

            Players don't get sent to the A simply because they are 1 – 1.5 million overpaid.

            This obssesion we have with getting rid of Horcoff reminds me of the Leafs with McCabe and to a lesser extent Kubina.

            They lose trades to get rid of them and then they "overpay" Komisarek and Finger.

      • GSC

        So what?

        He's still not earning his pay. Anyone with half a brain isn't saying to dump him for nothing. That's retarded. The fact of the matter is, however, that Horcoff hasn't been nearly good enough this season. Not even close.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          Ha-ha. I always love that argument.

          Sometimes I think guys like yourself would ice a team of AHL'ers as long as they all were "earning their pay"

          Oh, and lots of people are saying to dump him for nothing.

  • Tracie

    what's frustrating is that everything written here makes sense…starting the goalies 50/50 split to see which one has more value is a great idea…why aren't they thinking of it? i mean, to not think of it is just stupid! at the end of the season, you have to guess at which one to keep and which one to let go or keep both b/c you don't want to make a decision b/c you have no clue! Why would you want to do that???

    it's the same thing as how obvious and EASY it would've been to get a 3rd line center to win faceoffs and play on the PK for us, but we didn't do that either…so what are these guys thinking? I mean even if we do get the superstar that Tambo is obviously concentrating on, we have so many other holes in the lineup that it really won't matter, will it? it's obvious we have no blance to our team and the stuff we need is cheap and easy to fill, but we never did…why is that??? Until Mgmt figures it out and starts filling our holes to compliment star players, then we are pretty much stuck, aren't we?

    it's very frustrating to read these very sensible articles and know that mgmt will do nothing about it…which team are they watching anyways???

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Your right about a couple of things. First JDD and DD both should be splitting the rest of the games. Second the need for this team to evaluate thier goalies going forward is more important than putting Bulin back into a what is already a miserable situation. Do we really ned to be 9th? If Bulin gets back surgery and thats a big if: I'd say he's done as far as his hockey career is concerned . I really beieve that once your back is done, and this applies to most sports, I think its time then to pack it up and retire from the sport. Is it really worth a lifetime of pain for a couple more years on a rebuilding team for Bulin? Really worth it? We'll see.


  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Pretty much what I was thinking. If they don't think Dubnyk is ready then I wouldn't be opposed to sending him back to the minors and bringing in a vet backup for the remainder of the year. There is no point in playing JDD 13 games in a row anymore and if that is there plan then send DD back so that he can continue to play.

    I prefer your option, but I don't mind mine as a plan B.

  • GSC

    Agree with R.B. about the goalie split; been thinking that for a while, but especially with the way JDD has been playing lately, and with the Oilers CLEARLY in D.F.F. mode it is obvious. There is no reason not to find out what we have in net with these two now.

    Disagree with Horcoff being our second best forward…and I like Horcoff! I'm not saying he's an elite player, mind you, but I think he is a good player overall. Gilbert Brule has been our second best forward this year in my opinion, and lately, maybe our best.

    I hope our dive for five is complete for a top pick this year, and R.B. you are absolutely right; there is no 'tanking it', these guys are 2nd worse in the league after trying their best to win all season. So, unless management platoons young players and high draft picks for veterans to attempt to turn this year around we are pretty much assured of the high pick we deserve in the draft. Just for the record I would disagree with doing that.

    Looking at the positives for this season (Yes, there ARE positives in this) we really need the elite players we will be getting in the draft this year. We clearly lack not just the talent but also the depth of our talent to compete right now. (It's one thing to miss the playoffs due to injuries but to finish at the bottom of the league shows how far we are off)

    Secondly, developing our young goalies, or even just properly evaluating them in the NHL, is important considering the choices we will have to make next year with them. Considering Khabibulin's back, with his age and injury history, moving forward knowing what we already have is going to be huge in the future.

    We couldn't do either of those things without a season like we are having this year. A 50/50 split during a season just to evaluate our young goalies in a typical season would be unthinkable!