Devan Dubnyk

Over 24 games played this season, Devan Dubnyk has posted a 0.910 save percentage and that has driven an 8-8-7 record on a woeful Oilers team. That performance has given him a leg up on basically every other goaltender in the system, as his competition (Khabibulin, Deslauriers) have struggled since the opening puck drop of 2010-11.

Is it a mirage?

Perhaps, perhaps not. There is, however, a disturbing trend in Dubnyk’s last 10 games that combined with his 2009-10 performance should raise questions:

  • Last 10: 0.890 SV%
  • Previous 14: 0.922 SV%
  • 19 GP, 2009-10: 0.889 SV%
  • Career: 0.901 SV%

There are all sorts of ways to look at the data, and by considering the 2010-11 season as a whole and ignoring Dubnyk’s 2009-10 numbers, we get the impression he’s a quality NHL goaltender. Laying the numbers out the way I have here, it’s easy to get the idea that Dubnyk is a 0.900 SV%-quality goaltender who had a run of about a dozen games where he caught fire.

Let’s try it another way. The following chart shows five-game rolling averages from the start of Dubnyk’s career; i.e. each data point after the initial five games is Dubnyk’s average performance over the last five contests:

That red line represents a save percentage of 0.911 – the average for an NHL starter. Dubnyk started the year well above that line but in the last 20 games has spent more time below than above it. His overall numbers haven’t suffered that badly simply because he had such a great start.

To go back to the question posed at the opening: is Dubnyk’s 0.910 SV% a mirage?  Is he a lousy goalie on a hot streak or a blue-chipper on a lousy team?  I don’t honestly know the answer.  Projecting goaltenders is like witchcraft, except without the danger of burning at the stake.

I do know this: Dubnyk’s overall numbers don’t tell the story of how he has played recently, and like a few other young goaltenders he will probably get the benefit of the doubt based on that early run.  Certainly that’s the most sensible course of action for the Oilers: Dubnyk’s a young player they probably don’t have a great read on, the team’s going nowhere this year and it’s not like Khabibulin’s been anything special.  I just wouldn’t be willing to count on him, yet.


  • natedoo22

    FIRST post first time commentor!!!

    I really hope the OIL run the gauntlet with Dubnyk and give him an honest shot. So far he has proven that he can hold his own for a young squad with porous defence. Dubnyk deserves the opportunity to gain more time in the crease and here is hoping next season is more of 50/50 split with Khabbi.

  • natedoo22

    Thanks, I’m a long time reader, right from DAY 1 actually!!! Just scared to tap the keyboard I guess… which is a shock cause I’m usually not one without an opinion. I just find too many people on here get waayyy to ignorant to call one persons thought’s down or to elevate their own opinions.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      ~…what’s to say putting a persons’ thoughts down AND elevating their own opinion at the same time isn’t fun?~… here’s something to cogitate on…don’t be surprised if you get crapped on when some people, you’ll know who they are soon enuf, wake up this morning to see that you’ve squandered the life changing, mind altering opportunity to FIST !!!!

      that’s when you’ll see how scared you are tapping on your keyboard…

      cheerio & have a great time

  • Seriously....Gord?

    Until we have a solid starter, we are going to have a rough go at it. From what we’ve seen, no one in the system seems to have the skills to be a goaltender on a championship team. I hope Dubnyk proves me wrong.

  • natedoo22

    I don’t have any data, but he seems to be lights out one night and a sieve the next. I like Dubnyk, so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and blame it on inexperience. Like the general sentiment, I hope we see what he can do in this final quarter.

  • reaperfunkss

    Hard to know exactly what we have in Doobie with such a crap team in front of him. If this was a playoff calibre team, those stats would be improved. But on the flipside, he hasnt been good enough to steal games and make this a better team either. Id give him a chance but have a plan in the offseason to bring in someone better than Khabi (ship him back to Siberia)

  • I think he is a great goalie. Imagine how well he would do for himself if the Canucks defence was infront of him instead of the Oilers defence. He would be like the Niemi of the playoffs last year. Have a good surrounding cast and DD will be that goalie for a reasonable price tag along with quality goaltending. I was very sceptical of the move the Oil managment did sending JDD down instead of DD but after watching more of DD this year I like him better than JDD. He seems calm and poised and with a quality team around him he is good enough to ride there coat tails.

    I think the common trend we are going to see in the nhl is get a good enough goalie for cheap. The (last years)Neimi, Boucher, or Anderson type stoppers. It will go alot farther than having a Louongo or Lundquvist type contract weighing down a cap riddled team and with how the Oilers are drafting alot of there top end prospects are going to deserve those huge contracts and if the Oil have so much tied into a high priced goalie it will ultimately hurt us I believe. DD wont be asking for alot of money in his career but he is strong enough to get wins. They may not be pretty but they will be wins.

    I am also not saying DD is our clear cut starter either.

  • Bleak Winter

    Also first time commenting, long time lurking…

    I know you’re trying to point out a “trend” in the last little while, but basically all you’ve got there for your effort is a graph that supports the definition of an average being the central tendency of a range of values.

    Given the relatively small total number of games on the chart (which keep in mind represents a rookie goaltender still playing backup somewhat inconsistently on a 30th place team), I don’t see any cause for alarm.

    Until the recent 3 game winning streak, the Oil were playing some of their most banal hockey of the year too. How much of the occasional drop below .900 in his last 10 games can even be laid solely on Dubnyk?

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    build better defense and get dudes who can play smart hockey and that save % will go up even more. its tough when tards and posers are trying to play hockey in front of you.

  • …Being as we’re saddled with our goalie for another 2 years and it just seems like an eternity cuz maybe it is…both my eye balls are bleeding watching him…in the link to the piece on young goalies and their efforts to be starters, the author eludes to the idea that empirical data is better proved & good in these cases when the goalie has faced 2000 plus shots…which in some cases is a full goalie type season with a much larger number of starts…Grant Fuhr for instance faced 2000 shots a season a couple times with the Oilers & once or so with St.Louis but hardly ever got north of the .900 SV%…yes he had the scoring machine in front of him but only one HOFer on the blue which might explain the low-ish SV%…with Dubnyk and i know the game’s changed a ton since the glory days…what’s to say if he actually gets 50+ starts minimum next year and posts near and mostly above 900… he’s kinda battle tested now with this crappy team in front of him… shouldn’t the witchcraft factor be a non-issue by then so we can finally call him the starter by the fall of the 2012-13 season?
    …BUT if he fades next year and maybe consistently stays under the 900, we should know by the half way point of the season and only if he gets the majority 3 to 1 start split with our goalie.
    …is that when he’s toast or are there more factors [barring injury] to consider.

  • Interesting article statistics wise. I was at the game on Friday and saw something else in that in Edmonton v. St. Louis game – that he is regressing back to his more scrambly style. When he is playing well, he seems much more compact in his movements, aggressive, and looks confident with his angles.

    It was apparent on Friday that this was not the case.

    I know that he spent a lot of the off season working on angles – myabe its time to revisit this issue again?

  • I watch good teams like St.Louis and they dont allow any one to have clear lanes to shoot.Same with Vancouver even Calgary. the front of our net is a open range were other teams can place the puck on a tee.I hope our team will develop a little better defensive play.

  • A positive – Dubnyk is signed for next year, allowing more evaluation (that word isn’t banned yet is it??).

    This eliminates the possibility of a bad contract offered to him in the summer as RFA when the sample size may be too small on which to base it.

  • Interesting indeed. So the jist I have gotten the last year – Khabby had to play in front of a crap team and loses alot so he ” is too old, a drunk, washed up, contract sucks, etc, etc,” and Dubnyk should play more cuz he is better. Remember the saying ” careful what you ask for “?
    The fact is that any goalie’s #’s would be down on this team. Don’t look up because reality is about to fall on everyone’s head.
    We need to improve our defence before we take ANY steps forward!!! Plain and simple!

  • Bi-Curious Gord

    Interesting article JW. Is there any data showing that Dubnyk’s SV% tends to be higher if he plays consecutive games? (does he perform better as a starter than a backup?)Having never played the position I can`t say for certain but I would guess that goaltenders need to find a rhythm before they can play to their full potential. I live in Vancouver so my knowledge about all things Canucks is unfortunately extensive. Luongo is notorious for struggling in October (and May for that matter but I digress). Then, like clockwork, his game turns around in November after he gets the feel for the game back.
    What I`m saying is I hope they give Dubey the vast majority of starts from here on in. It`s the only way to know what we`ve got.

  • Crackenbury

    I’m one of the few that is happy for the way the Oilers have handled Dubnyk this season. Most people, have been demanding more games for him. The Oilers picked his spots and allowed him to have success on an unbelievably poor defensive team. He can go into next year feeling decent about his first full years performance. He’s going to need this years success to fall back on when he starts getting more games next year.

  • Crackenbury

    Personally I think it is unfair to compare a Goaltender to the league average when he clearly has well below average defence in front of him.

    The oilers are probably the highest event team in the NHL this year. I don’t have any stats to back this up but one would guess that the oilers have given up more high quality scoring chances than the average NHL team.

  • As for Edmonton’s miserable defence, they allow 31.7 shots against per game which puts them 21st in the league.

    They’re bad, but I don’t think they’re so bad so as to totally warp Dubnyk’s SV% number. Goalies in places like Colorado, Anaheim, Florida and Atlanta have to put up with similar shelling.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    As i mentioned a couple months ago it looks like Devan may have been much better off playing 40-50 games in Oklahoma. Nothing wrong with having Khabby play 60 games and Gerber 20 games up here for this season and allow Dubnyk more time/less important rubber. The Khabby vs Dubnyk debate is just one of a few needless noises going on this year. It does make for some interesting poo flinging matches on here though, which is a bonus……no?

  • Costanza

    Watching Dubnyk gives a better impression of what he is capable of. Very positional and a good athlete. Tom Barrasso was similar but more flashy and Kolzig was also similar but had a temper. All were big goalies and in the case of Kolzig took time to develop.

    Dubnyk is doing fine and I would suggest games like St.Louis where his numbers stunk really didn’t show how well he played. The bad thing with goalie stats on this team is that the quality of shots against are usually high.