Success In Net, Everywhere

After two years of iffy goaltending at the NHL level, the Edmonton Oilers have been blessed with strong performances from both Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk. It’s not a situation unique to the NHL team, however – at every level, Oilers’ goalies are getting the job done.

Given the questions the Oilers faced in net at the major league level, they opted to bring in two veterans to play in Oklahoma City. Thirty-year old veteran Yann Danis was brought back to North America after a season in Russia, and his resume was impeccable: 49 NHL games and 186 games in the AHL with good numbers, and three years as a superb college starter prior to that. As with Martin Gerber the year prior, the Oilers spent some money and got themselves a high-quality third-string goaltender.

Behind Danis, the once highly-touted David Leneveu was brought in as backup. Like Danis, the 28-year old came from a college background (his strong work with Cornell made him a second-round pick back in 2002) and had both NHL (22 games) and AHL (273 games) experience. His AHL numbers the last two seasons weren’t overly impressive, but he had been a strong option previously and was a respectable choice for the AHL backup role.

In the early going, the two have worked together to form one of the most impressive duos in the AHL.

Among goalies with at least 10 games played, Yann Danis ranks second in the AHL with a 0.930 SV%, a hair behind Ben Bishop, the third-stringer in St. Louis. Leneveu, with a 0.922 SV% through seven games, isn’t far behind him. It’s worth noting once again how early it is in the season, but there’s little reason to believe that this isn’t Danis’ true talent level, and if he gets a chance he’ll undoubtedly fill in nicely in the NHL. It’s also a nice bounce-back year for Leneveu, who was playing in Austria just two seasons ago.

The veteran tandem in the AHL has allowed the Oilers to start Olivier Roy in the ECHL, where he was just named Goaltender of the Week. His win/loss record on the season isn’t stellar but he does have a 0.925 SV% – in the same range as Devan Dubnyk, who posted a 0.921 SV% in the ECHL in his first professional season. It’s a good place for the rookie pro to be.

It would have been easy for the Oilers to start Roy in the AHL, on the grounds that as a potential future starter he should be developing in a tougher league. It would also have been a mistake – as we’ve seen in previous seasons, injury and poor play can turn a team’s goaltending situation upside down overnight. One recalled goaltender and one struggling prospect, and all of a sudden the farm team can’t win games because they’re playing goalies in roles they simply aren’t ready for.

As it stands, the Oilers are in good shape. Roy’s ECHL performance gives us confidence that he could handle AHL work if needed to, and the AHL team could run a relatively competent tandem even if deprived of their best goalie. Additionally, should one of the Oilers two starters go down to injury, Yann Danis stands ready as an option capable of playing games.

It’s a good place to be, and the Oilers have other options. Tyler Bunz (recently injured while on the bench) had a great training camp and has established himself as a prospect to watch. Samu Perhonen’s not having a great year, but he’s young and is a legitimate prospect, and Frans Tuohimaa is also in the system.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis


    Great article. the update on the Barons from the NR the other week said as much. Exciting to know one position is finally solid (for now).

    It would be great if you could put a bit more time into the young guns. I haven’t heard much about Roy, Bunz and the Finns this year and a proper update from you or LT would be much appreciated… for example this is the first I’ve heard about Bunz’ injury… sounds awful, any updates? will he make the WJ team? is that in jeopardy?

    I got a couple of Meta suggestions for you to take or leave:

    1) could you make your text links more visible somehow? maybe bold or something… the blue is too similar to the black for me to pick them up (or i’m color blind)

    2) this is going to sound funny, me asking you for more stats… but could you just put up whatever stats you are using (in this case Goalie numbers) in an isolated box the way they are usually done… like you do in this post:

    they are separate from the text and therefore easy to reference as I read along… sometimes you either don’t provide the data or put it in the text, or in a link and I struggle to find it… maybe I’m just a luddite, but it would sure make things easier for me.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        cool. thanks for the info… don’t follow the twitterers myself.

        That link Willis gave claims a much more severe incident:

        Unfortunately for Oilers’ prospect and Medicine Hat Tiger goalie Tyler Bunz, Bunz was not able to play in net. Bunz was struck in the head with a puck while playing back-up on Tuesday night. Bunz was taken to the hospital and is in good spirits, but from what I have heard and read, the swelling on Bunz’s temple prevented Bunz from starting the final game Thursday night. Bunz is of course also a goaltender hopeful for the upcoming World Juniors tournament.

        Assuming that is accurate, it’s certainly something to worry about. But, if he’s up and tweeting and ready to play… can’t be that big a deal, right?

        • Jerk Store

          From Greg Drinnan’s “Taking Note” WHL Blog . . .

          G Tyler Bunz was back with the Medicine Hat Tigers on Tuesday night, the first time he has played since taking a puck to the head last week while on the bench with the WHL team that was playing a Russian squad in Regina. . . . Bunz stopped 27 shots as the Tigers dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to the Blades in Saskatoon. . . .

          Not sure about protocol for posting comments from other Blog sites. If I am out of line I beg for forgiveness (vs asking for permission)

  • THIS I absolutely agree with.

    It’s just nice to know that the Oilers actually have a place for their goalie prospects to play. Having no farm team threw some huge obstacles at JDD and DD’s development.

    Well said.

  • stevezie

    With so many teams languishing without one good goalie, how long are we going to hold onto two? I’m not lobbying in favour of trading Khabi, but if he still looks this good in January, and Columbus*, Chicago, and Tampa still look this bad, aren’t we going to get a good offer? What’s godfather territory? If Danis is good enough to backup Dubnyk, we’ll have some decisions to make. The league is short about five starting goalies, and we’ve got a spare one.

    I just picked up Sandford in my pool, and I’ve always liked the BJs, so hopefully this is the beginning of the Roloson phase of his career. If not, boy they need somebody because Mason is not an NHL goalie. The team isn’t tanking, it’s all in net.

      • stevezie

        Take a look at their goaltending stats and/or where they sit in goals allowed; they have been significantly worse than mediocre. Their success has come in spite of their goalies, not because of them. Yes you can win the cup without great goaltending, but as the Capitols will tell you, you can waste a pretty good season losing a goalie duel.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          Fair enough… but you sure made it sound like Chicago as a team was bad not just their goaltending:

          if he [ie. Khabbie] still looks this good in January, and Columbus*, Chicago, and Tampa still look this bad

          I just thought that was a tad of an overreach… esp. when you end up comparing the best team in the NHL (Chi) with the worst (Colum).

          But I definitely see what you are saying now that I get it. we chased both their goaltenders!

          However… if we are trading for draft position I’d rather got with Columbus

          • stevezie

            True, but the really tragic part of Columbus’ season is that it’s already a write-off. If I’m them, I’m making my big move in the off-season. Chicago has cup plans. If Sanford keeps playing like this CBJ may not have a problem.

            I sure hope Steve Mason invested wisely.

    • Bucknuck

      If any team makes a play for Khabibulin at the deadline, Tambellini would be insane not to go for it. His play lately has been terrific but he will plummet back to earth or his back will go out. I am not sure which will happen first, and if we can trade him before that happens then great.

      • Bucknuck

        I don’t think it matters one way or the other if someone makes an offer on Bulin they should take it. He’s not going to be the guy for a run at the Cup so if you can turn him for some picks or a prospect thats just good business. And maybe a team that has a legit chance at a long playoff run can give him one more shot at getting another cup. I think that works out best for both sides.

        • Bucknuck

          As a general rule I am tired of seeing real NHL players leaving for prospects and draft picks. the Oil need to quit selling their assets for “maybe’s” now.

          However, for Khabibulin I will make an exception to that stance. So I agree with you… to a point.

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            From my perspective it just doesn’t make sense to lose a player to free agency or retirement when you could be getting something back for them

            Omark for example, if he does/did go back to Europe next year he can sign with another team and the oilers would get nothing, same goes for Hemsky. To lose both of those guys and not even get a draft pick would just be stupid.

            So if Hemsky and the oilers don’t work out a deal ahead of the trade deadline and if it sounds more and more like Omark wants to move on then the Oil should be trying to package them for either a top D prospect or roster D man. Or trying to turn them into a couple more 1st rounders

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    “Frans Tuohimaa is also in the system.”

    Tuohimaa is currently having a tough time filling up for injured starter Eero Kilpeläinen in Jokerit. His .900 SV% pretty much says it all.

    He seems to be able to handle the pressure quite well and the quickness of both his hands has impressed me. He’s also capable of highlight reel saves, as this video from last Saturday proves:

    On the other hand, he has huge problems with his rebound control and his lateral movement could be better. Those weaknesses are obvious enough to be exploited by opponents now that he’s playing regularly.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      Eff yea!! sweet update! Thanks so much… any news on Samu?

      That’s a nice video… but I think he might have oversold it.

      And, it still extremely jarring to watch European uniforms covered in ads… distracting really. Are you used to it yet?

      What kind of deal do we have with these guys anyway? under what conditions would they get a look in the A or the big show over here?

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    From Calgary:

    I admit to envy!

    But first: RKD, if Iggy wants to wait until he wins The Cup with the Flames, at this pace, he will have to play hockey for the next three decades – and at a higher tempo than he does now…

    As to envy, I envy these Oilers…. the laughing stock of the NHL the last few years!

    I watch their games, and I watch their faces in the close-ups of the cameras: Genuine laughter and joy when they are winning, even in the face of THEIR 35 year-old, Smyth! Genuine anger (at themselves or the world in general) when they are down or they do not get things done!

    Kids wearing their hearts and emotions on their sleeves, skating miles upon miles at neck-breaking speeds, celebrating uncontrollably a success and sculling at the corner at failure…

    They play the game with PASSION! It IS a game of PASSION after all! Passion is an element of youth and eagerness, collective passion results from true team spirit and manifests itself in common purpose through individual maximum input!

    People who make many millions a year to simply show up because at some distant past point HAD passion for the game, simply can not compete with that. At $5, $6, $7 million a year, one does not see one’s self as a passionate player, one sees himself as an industry to protect its earnings as long as possible!

    These young Oilers, have not caught up to that yet! That is why they PLAY, win lose or draw… And they are so much fun to watch, I forget I live in Calgary!

    Perhaps because when it comes down to hockey, the last time I saw real passion was from the boys in the 80’s who were also wearing their hearts on their sleeves… and incidentally all pushed for a, then aging, guy with a big handle-bar mustache and passion in his heart!

    Darn it, where is the pride in this bunch of collective have-beens we are being served as a hockey club which represents Calgary the last few years? CALGARY!!! One of the most dynamic Cities on the planet deserves a LOT better than what we get in sports these days…

    As for executives and management of the Flames, no offense, but: Calgary has a corporate culture of Success in every front! Except hockey!

    Gentlemen, please go do something else with your time. You have failed, collectively and individually! Nothing wrong with that, success is never guaranteed. But failure is followed by resignations and dismissals so others can try for better… It is the simple way of the corporate world, especially in Calgary!

    Nothing Personal. Just business!

    Please, Go! I’d rather see effort – so at least I can hope, than the sad show you put on through your “efforts”!

    You have been measured! Repeatedly! And you have been found wanting…

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Are there any stats that reveal how much of this turnaround is due to having 3/nearly 4 PPG players on the roster, or perhaps it’s lesser quality scoring opportunities compared to last season.

    The best defense is a stronger offense.

  • Afaik Bunz have been pretty much fine ever since leaving the hospital. He wanted to play the second game but was held back precautionary, same with the first game back with the Tigers.

    And as Jerk Stone pointed out Bunz was back between the pipes vs Saska and did ok. Last night though, he was even better. Stopping 37 out of 38 pucks in a Tigers 6-1 win against Prince Albert Raiders.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      Sweet. Thanks for the update. one of the best parts of the commentariat: answers!

      now, who’s this “Afaik Bunz” you speak of… maybe I should ask “Jerk Stone”… wasn’t he the star of that movie all those kids liked “Harry Potter and the Jerk Stone”?