TOUGH CALLS?: NOT SO MUCH IN GOAL

DALLAS - APRIL 02: Goaltender Devan Dubnyk #40 of the Edmonton Oilers at American Airlines Center on April 2, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

With 23 spots on the roster, 32 players still in town and just two pre-season games left to play, the Edmonton Oilers have some tough decisions to make. Indications are, though, deciding who’ll be the back-up to Nikolai Khabibulin isn’t one of them.

The Oilers haven’t announced they’ve decided on Devan Dubnyk as the guy who’ll caddie for Khabibulin, but it doesn’t take a vast intellect to see it’ll unfold that way — even if GM Steve Tambellini won’t come out and say it and hinted Thursday on 630 CHED that the Oilers might start the season with three goaltenders.

Dubnyk, 24, is younger. As a first-round pick, 14th overall in 2004, he’s got more pedigree than Deslauriers. And, through two starts each this pre-season, he’s been as good, or better, than Deslauriers in limited work totalling just over 60 minutes.

With both of them having to clear waivers to be sent to the minors, I’d be floored if it’s Dubnyk and not Deslauriers who gets a ticket to Oklahoma City when coach Tom Renney thins his crease count to two stoppers.

I’m not sure Deslauriers or Dubnyk will be lost to waivers, and that’s a whole different argument and story, but it looks to me — have I ever been wrong? — like the right call on the pecking order in the goal crease is an obvious one, even if they aren’t saying so.

Dubnyk it is.

IT’S A BUSINESS

I think Deslauriers 26, has had to battle ridiculous odds because of how badly he was handled by the Oilers early in his career, notably when the team decided it didn’t need their own AHL affiliate.

That bad decision resulted in Deslauriers playing for five different teams in the minor leagues by the time he was 24, even though he never left the organization. Deslauriers either toiled for teams that had their own prospects to look at (Hamilton and Wilkes-Barre) or flat-out awful teams, like the outfit in Springfield.

Then, after just 10 appearances with the Oilers over in 2008-09, when he was stuck behind Dwayne Roloson and Mathieu Garon, he got tossed in over his head last season when Khabibulin hurt his back.

Deslauriers wasn’t ready to play 48 games, and it showed in too many of them as he split duties with Dubnyk on the way to a 16-28-4 record with a 3.26 goals-against average and .901 saves percentage on a 30th-place team.

I think Deslauriers has had a raw deal here. I like his fight and compete level. I think he’s talented enough, even with his quirks in style, to be a goaltender in the NHL. To understate, I’ve been unequivocally on-the-record with that.

That said, raw deal or not, too bad. That’s the hockey business. It isn’t necessarily fair, but it matters not. Deslauriers might yet be an NHL goaltender, and I hope that happens because he’s a damn good kid who competes like hell, but it’s not in the cards with this organization.

BEST FOOT FORWARD

Deslauriers has been saying all the right things when it comes to his situation, like Wednesday before he went out and allowed two goals in half-a-game against the Phoenix Coyotes. "I have to bring that experience back this year and focus and be a better goalie," he said. "Every year is the same thing. You always have to play your best and focus on the new season.

"People like to talk about old stats and stuff like that, but what matters is right now. You have to focus on the present."

Deslauriers, of course, said much the same things last season, but he didn’t deliver. He had stretches of brilliance to be sure, but there were too many games when he played poorly.

The swings between his best and worst performances were huge. Too big, even on a bad team, to instil any confidence in those now making decisions — Renney, Tambellini. Then, there’s Dubnyk’s finish to last season. So, here we are, with Deslauriers behind the younger Dubnyk in the minds of the coach and GM, if not officially on the depth chart.

Add to that TV commentator Darren Pang saying today in a radio interview he heard that Deslauriers was available last summer, and you get what we’ve got.

Dubnyk it is.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • The Fish

    Robin –

    If he was available this summer, do you have any idea why the Oilers qualified him? It seems like an odd decision for a team telling City Council how much money they lost.

  • PabstBR55

    You’re either major-league material or you’re not. Deslauriers has big bizalls, is a character guy, and likes to drop the mitts which is a great trait in a ‘tender, but he’ll likely never be an NHL starter.

    If the Oilers find a trade partner in Minnesota for Deslauriers, what return do you think we can get? A 4th rounder?

    • Cheesenaka

      Not a chance they get anything for Deslauriers from Minnesota. The Wild can simply wait and snag JDD off of waivers for free.

      It all depends on who they think is the better option for backup…

      Jose Theodore, Thomas Greiss, or JDD/DD.

      Since Gerber cleared waivers its obviously not him. 🙂

  • D-Man

    Could JD be a throw-in for a Souray deal?? I don’t honestly see anyone taking Souray back on re-entry even at half price??

    Brownlee is bang on though about JD getting a bad deal… He’s been a good soldier; kinds of sucks to see him get screwed over by poor management…

    • Petr's Jofa

      At half price (2.7 mil), Souary could be a steel of a deal. Here are the NHL D-men who’s cap hits are 2.7-3.0 mil.

      Niklas Kronwall Cap hit:$ 3 mil

      Jordan Leopold Cap hit:$ 3 mil

      Toni Lydman Cap hit:$ 3 mil

      Colin White Cap hit:$ 3 mil

      Ian White Cap hit:$ 3 mil

      Rostislav Klesla Cap hit:$ 2.975 mil

      Luke Schenn Cap hit:$ 2.975 mil

      Matt Greene Cap hit:$ 2.95 mil

      Bryan Allen Cap hit:$ 2.9 mil

      Bryce Salvador Cap hit:$ 2.9 mil

      Fedor Tyutin Cap hit:$ 2.844 mil

      Tim Gleason Cap hit:$ 2.75 mil

      Derek Morris Cap hit:$ 2.75 mil

      Jeff Schultz Cap hit:$ 2.75 mil

      Zach Bogosian Cap hit:$ 2.725 mil

      Steve Staios Cap hit:$ 2.7 mil

      Erik Johnson Cap hit:$ 2.6 mil

      Mark Eaton Cap hit:$ 2.5 mil

      • Shapeman

        The only player on this list you could argue is better than Souray right now is Kronwall, and you would most likely be right if you said Bogosian and Johnson end up as good or better. I’d be shocked if someone didn’t pick him up on re-entry waivers.

      • D-Man

        I think that’s the key… “On a team who’s budget is lower than the cap”… From my understanding, most team’s are close to the cap and according to what I heard on Nilsson and Chase this morning, there are only two or three teams that seem interested… Columbus and St. Louis and they’re probably maybe’s at best…

        Has Souray been picked up yet?? If he hasn’t been yet, I think we’ll be hearing stories about him watching at home for the rest of this season.

      • D-Man

        I think that’s the key… “On a team who’s budget is lower than the cap”… From my understanding, most team’s are close to the cap and according to what I heard on Nilsson and Chase this morning, there are only two or three teams that seem interested… Columbus and St. Louis and they’re probably maybe’s at best…

        Has Souray been picked up yet?? If he hasn’t been yet, I think we’ll be hearing stories about him watching at home for the rest of this season.

  • PabstBR55

    The though of losing Petiot or Belle to waivers doesnt sit well with me, I assume the only way to avoid that is to obviously sign them to 2 way or 1 way deals? Can someone please clarify?

    • book¡e

      The only way to ensure that you don’t lose them is to not send them down. 1 way or 2 way does not matter in the least.

      You could give them a huge contract that scares off other teams, but that is it.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Both JDD and DD should be in Oklahoma, they’ve both shown they’re not NHL ready. We’ll win more games with a more consistant Gerber in net than we will with these two. DD should spend the whole year in the AHL and if you’re going to expose someone to waivers (if Khabby or Gerber aren’t 100%) it should be JDD. Instead of letting Deslaurier off the hook by saying he was somehow mismanaged or ended up on a brutal hockey club, he was presented with an opportunity to show just how puck worthy he was, he failed to show he was one of the best of a bad bunch. I read in the Hockey News this week that Hardy Astrom is really turning some heads with his play over in Europe, so, maybe there’s still hope. If we’re fortunate, maybe we even lose both JDD and DD on waivers. It’s not as though we couldn’t get someone else more qualified for less.

      • Crash

        I only rebuttal you once every 15 times or so you bitch about it.

        DD has played all of 19 NHL games and so many seem to have him all figured out already….I am humbled by all the knowledge here.

    • Crash

      I’m not letting Deslauriers off the hook. He wasn’t somehow mismanaged. He was mismanaged. He did get a raw deal, Even so, I wrote: “That said, raw deal or not, too bad. That’s the hockey business.”

      Did Deslauriers get a gold-plated opportunity to succeed? Did he catch a lot of breaks along the way? Was he ready to take over when Khabibulin went down? No, no, and no. But he did get an opportunity. Imperfect or not, the bottom line is he didn’t do enough to seize it in the 48 games he played.

      Deslauriers proved, at least to me, he’s capable of being a starter in the NHL when he’s at the top of his game. The problem is, he didn’t stay at or near the top of it for long enough stretches. You can’t go from great to awful on a rotating basis like he did and expect to win the confience of an organization. Coaches and GMs will take “consistently good” over “great” and then “terrible” every time. I think Deslauriers top end was better than a lot of people thought it would be, but he was far too erratic. Then, Dubnyk finished the season strong . . .

      Deslauriers will get one more look in Calgary when he splits the game with Dubnyk, but Renney suggested this morning the team is already “leaning a particular way.” That would be toward Dubnyk.

      • Rogue

        Maybe by the 30 game mark, Gerber will be here anyway, if SBS goes down with an injury.
        I would of liked JDD and DD in the minors so both can get playing time.

        Robin, any idea how Renney will rotate Khabby and DD, 2-1, 3-1 or has he decided yet?

  • Cervantes

    That’s exactly why Tambi gave him that $1M one-way contract, to try and make him less pallatable to other teams. I still think JDD has NHL skill, he just needs a solid year to perfect it. I think the Oil feel the same. So they get him a real good vet to tag-team with in the A, give him a contract that might scare off teams who haven’t looked past his boxscores, and set him up for a solid learning year on what should be a decent team.

    I just hope it’s not too little too late.

  • Shapeman

    According to a report on NHL.com Bryce Salvador had a “concussion”. Oh, wow the Devils just found 3mil in cap space, would you look at that?

    *edit*ok he didn’t say that he was put on LTIR yet but it’s only a matter of time!*edit*

  • hey Robin…are you doing up another Radio Ga-Ga installment soon? I’m curious on your thoughts about Jack Michaels and his calling and also what you think about Morley and the Esk game calling?

    My thoughts on Jack are that I like his voice but I don’t like his presentation. It seems that he likes to describe or paint the picture of what is happening AFTER the play has already developed and then once he is done describing that we are already behind the play and then he will make a short broad statement like “and Peckham retreats bck with the puck and sweeps it into the corner as the puck slides up to centre ice while Hemsky retrieves it.” Something like that anyways. I mean, isn;t Bob supposed to be doing the color and doing the followup on how and why the play developed? Whis is Jack doing this? It;s very anti climactic if you ask me. Also, I will go on record to say that I think that Bob should have been the guy to do the PBP as I still think (from the games he did last year) that he had the right mixture of excitement, knowledge and play calling urgency.

    In regards to the Esk’s game calling I am still saddened by the dull sounds of Morley and Dave Campbell. You can tell that Morley is trying to add excitement to his voice in the last few games but he still sounds tinny or hollow to me versus the great sound that Brian Hall used to make when he would do the calling.

    Have a good weekend everyone!

  • I’d rather see Souray loaned out to a different organizations AHL club like Nylander was for this season. Try to trade him again next season when he only has one year left on his deal it may be easier. Suck up the $4.5 mill this year and hopefully unload the remainder next. Same dollars as re-entry without the cap hit next season. Worst case scenario is re-entry next season….or for all we know Tambo and company will be skidded by then and Souray can return to the team.

  • can anyone say niemi or turco?the oilers have done an amazing job adding skill up front and adding toughness on the back end gator style,but niether jdd or dd or khabby is going to give the support in our own zone for the team to gel,kids to grow and managment to find the final pieces of the puzzle.if you look at this team it is going dominate hockey games with speed and grit,but our goaltending is going to kill us.with the market being as cheap as it is for goalies the oilers should make a move!put jdd and dd in the minors,get gerber up on the big team,let khabby do what he can and shop for a goalie(souray,dd and mabey omark for a solid goaltender.

  • C-DOG

    I have more confidence in DD then I do JDD as the future goalie for the Oilers. But why not let DD play 60-65 games in the AHL this year instead of 15-25 games in the NHL?

    It’s not like the Oilers care if they win or lose games this season.

    P.S. I know DD has to clear waivers, but I do not think he would get claimed in my opinion.

  • Shapeman

    Big mistake! Watched this guy for 5 years in Kamloops. Althought the team was brutal, Dubnyk was an average WHL goalie who has not won anything in his entire career. He would constantly deflate the team by letting in 1 or 2 bad goals in per game. His above .9 save percentage is a direct reflection of his size and the defensive focus of these blazer teams. Lots of shots from far out with Dubnyk standing on the goal line and the pucks hitting him. His performance in the playoffs was absolutely laughable with 4 straight losses in rd 1 for 4 straight years. A good goalie would at least be able to win 1.

    I was disheartened when the Oil drafted him in the first and laughed when we played third string at the World Junior. Definitely not a goalie I would want on my team.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      “P.S. I know DD has to clear waivers, but I do not think he would get claimed in my opinion.”

      If no team would claim DD on waivers then he isn’t even worth talking about. I would take a 6th round pick for him.

    • book¡e

      Dubnyk played on one of the worst teams in the WHL. Not only were they consistantly bad, they took an abhorrent number of penalites every year he played for them.

      The Blazers had defensive focus in the same way Italians play offensive-minded soccer.

      And I think you are a little off on his playoff record. He certainly didn’t go 0-16 in the playoffs in his WHL career.

      • Spartacus

        Yeah you’re right, here’s his playoff record. I truthfully can’t remember any wins, funny how you lose your memory!

        2003-2004 Kamloops Blazers-WHL 4 1 3 0 12 95 .874 2.94 245
        2004-2005 Kamloops Blazers-WHL 6 2 4 0 22 193 .886 3.64 363

        You have got to love his save%. Kamloops was one of the worse teams no doubt, but DD was also an average goalie on a bad team. I shared season tickets and watched this kid play numerous games. He is not an NHL calibre goalie. I like the analogy earlier in this forum, he does remind me of a poor mans Auld! Then again I wouldn’t put NHL scout on my resume.

        Don’t get me wrong, as an oilers fan I wish he proves me wrong but I highly doubt it.

  • Can we add a line to the banner or something to explain that waiver eligibility has nothing to do with whether a contract two way or not?

    Maybe it’s just me but it’s starting to grate having somebody ask in every single thread why players on two-way deals have to go through waivers.

  • book¡e

    I don’t think we should spend too much time crying over JDD’s developmental process.

    While the rest of his draft class was dominating in the AHL in 04-05 (Ward, Harding, ect…), JDD proceeded to be the worst goaltender in the league, which probably set the tone for what happened to him in following years.

  • Spartacus

    That James van Praagh guy on the sidebar looks suspiciously like Burton Cummings.

    And I`d take Dubnyk over Deslauriers too. But I would have kept Gerber over both of those guys.

    I can`t see any other team claiming DD or JD through waivers. The Oilers barely want them, why would anyone else

  • Boomer

    I don’t care if the caddy is Deslauriers or Dubnyk, as to me I still can’t see enough difference between the two yet to make a clear choice. The only thing I do not want is a repeat of the three goalie fiasco. How many times during the Garon, Deslauriers, Roloson year did the Oilers say the three goalie rotation was not a problem, only to admit openly after Garon was traded, that it did not work. Please learn from your mistakes Oilers and don’t repeat them.

  • Mitch

    @Robin

    I watched both Roy and Bunz down in penticton, I do feel that both these young men are better goalie prospects then DD or JDD, hopefully at the point when Khabibulin is ready to hang them up one of Roy,Bunz, and Dubnyk is ready for 60+ games. More recently it looks as though goalies need a big amount a games in the minors to develope…yes the oilers have clearly failed to provide that.

  • Crash

    I’m not ready to determine that DD can’t get the job done until he has the chance to show it. For my money DD showed after the Olympic break last year that he indeed may have it in him.

    People can’t deny his last 10 games last year show some pretty stellar numbers overall. So what does the kid have to do? How much more do people expect?

    He played great at the end of last year. He’s had one average half game so far in the preseason and one pretty darn good half game this preseason. So good in fact that he was named the 3rd star of the game stopping 19 of 20 shots.

    How is it everyone is sold on Gerber? He’s much older than he was the last time he played in the league and couldn’t hold an NHL job back then. All of a sudden everyone is convinced he’s going to win us a bunch of games…He’s never really been a starter.

    The Oilers are in rebuild. They need to find out if their young goaltender is going to be the guy of the future. He needs to play against NHL competition before we can find out if he will be able to take that next step. Playing in the AHL is not going to accomplish this. If he plays in the AHL the same questions will be wondered about until he plays some in the NHL. Now is the time for this to happen.

    • I’d be willing to give DD the benefit of the doubt, but after watching Karlsson play pretty damn solid, well that would be my bar.

      As far as the Oilers being in a rebuild, well that doesn’t apply to the goaltenders. Its not like there isn’t whacks of decent goalies out there right now we couldn’t pick up. We don’t need to develop a goalie like we need to do with offensive talent. If anything, with the amount of newbies in our lineup, the least you’d want to do is have some good goaltending to give them a chance to win.

      I don’t care if we get our butts kicked this year, but I DO want us to be able to compete. Good goaltending would go a long way to making that happen.

  • Hockeyjedi

    DD didn’t finish strong. He just sucked a bit less than he had earlier in the season. But yet he gets praise heaped on him. *shakes head in bewilderment* JDD wants to be in net and THAT is why he will be a solid backup to Superbowl Sunday. Every chance he has to get in there his fighter’s mentality will carry him. Say what you want but at least JDD gives his all – reminds me of Roloson a bit, and he sure turned out okay,didn’t he? DD can sit behind Gerber in OKC or get claimed(maybe) and languish on some other team’s farm club.

  • Hockeyjedi

    I realize that this post is not on topic but:

    Jason had an interesting interview with Horcoff the other day.

    Jason wondered if his poor season last year might have been due to a undisclosed injury. Horcoff said no, he felt the results of a poorly designed summer conditioning program.

    He indicated that this summer he and his trainers went for a new program. One that compared his compared his skating etc to his better seasons. He also worked on leg exercises that were more attuned to pushing off on one leg.

    Questions:

    1. Can’t a hockey player rework his conditioning after the season starts ?
    Better to take two weeks off than have a poor season.

    2. Should the team be more involved in this aspect of the game. The team benefits from Horcoff’s efforts … what if some other player’s program goes off the rails.

    3. Can’t there be standard assessments on the ice to measure skating, shooting etc so that the team and player can chart performance expectations? and year by year changes.

    4. I wonder if teams could use these test results in their contracts such that when a player loses more than a step, the contract could be voided. For example this appears to be the case for Wade Redden.

    Comments ?

    Thanks Dave

  • Darth Oiler

    if you read your this post in one way, DD and JDD should both be kept on the big club and kabi should be sent to OKC i know this wont happen but if your thinking only of the future that is what should be done.

  • Well, I’ve finally decided. I hope the Oilers take Seguin first overall.
    I would keep the Doobie. He has more upside. Plus, then we can yell Doooooooooooooooob, just to get the goat of those Bancouver fellas.