Big Decisions: Drafting Devan Dubnyk

It is sometimes forgotten now, but the consensus back in 2004 was that the Edmonton Oilers were taking a real risk in selecting Devan Dubnyk 14th overall.

It wasn’t just the ‘it’s a bad idea to take goalies in the first round’ sort of reach pick either. In drafting Devan Dubnyk, the Oilers were passing on the consensus top goaltender left in the draft, a Czech goaltender named Marek Schwarz. Schwarz was very highly regarded – there were occasional whispers of the name ‘Hasek’ in comparisons – and the club was ridiculed in some corners for making the choice.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The Hockey News has some archived coverage from the 2004 Draft; their comments on those two goalies are well worth reading.

Devan Dubnyk:

The Oilers reach in taking Dubnyk ahead of Czech netminder Marek Schwarz, but stick to their preference for WHL talent in the process. With another selection later on in Round 1, Edmonton may have been better off taking a forward at No. 14–then add Dubnyk. If Dubnyk becomes a better NHLer than Schwarz, Oilers GM Kevin Lowe will have the last laugh. Don’t bet on it.

Marek Schwarz:

A no-brainer pick here. Despite adding Jason Bacashihua the day before the draft, the Blues win a lottery of sorts with the selection of Schwarz. He’s arguably the best goalie available and was almost a certainty to be a top 10 pick. Don’t be surprised if Schwarz moves to North America quicker than anticipated and becomes the Blues’ franchise goaltender for a long, long time.

While those comments look funny in hindsight, they did represent consensus wisdom at the time. The 2004 Draft had a strong goalie class, with Al Montoya and Marek Schwarz regarded as potential franchise goalies, and Devan Dubnyk, Cory Schneider, Justin Peters and David Shantz all recognized as good prospects. All six were gone by the 40th overall pick. Four more were gone by the 100th overall selection – including future World Junior stars Justin Pogge and Jeff Glass and current Shark Thomas Greiss. Meanwhile, the best of the group today was drafted with the last pick of the eighth round – that’s where Nashville selected Pekka Rinne.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

But keying in those first few picks – where are they today?

Player Drafted Today
Al Montoya 6th overall In the NHL after years in the wilderness; posted a 0.893 SV% in 31 games with NYI
Devan Dubnyk 14th overall Has split time for two seasons with Khabibulin; 0.914 SV% in 47 NHL games in ’11-12
Marek Schwarz 17th overall Flushed by St. Louis; played 35 games in Finland last year with a 0.894 SV%
Cory Schneider 26th overall High-end goalie is the heir apparent in Vancouver; posted a 0.937 SV% this year
David Shantz 37th overall Doesn’t seem to have played this season, was 2-time ECHL goalie of the week in ’10-11
Justin Peters 38th overall Not toast yet but has been relegated to AHL, where he managed a 0.908 SV% in ’11-12

The Oilers could have done a little better than Dubnyk, if they had been willing to gamble on Schneider – a brilliant high school goalie – but they did get the main thing right: they avoided Schwarz, a small goalie who never lived up to his elite billing.

Lots of times, teams get burned when they try to outsmart everyone else – one only needs to look back to the miserable Niinimaki selection in 2002 to confirm this. But in 2004, the Oilers bet on their view being better than the consensus, and they’ve been rewarded for it.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • Reg Dunlop

    So what does this tell you.Don’t take a goalie in first round.

    How about don’t take a defencemen in top three unless they are all world.

    Quick call the Oilers and tell them there are no all world defenders available..

    Oh just forget it there no hope for those idiots.

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    Good blog and even though DD has not what one would call the standard developement plan, still to this point he looks to be the best of the Goalies drafted in this year.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    Yeah good point there. I do like Duby alot though.

    He may yet be the better of the 2 as well, but at this point no way you can put Duby in Schneider’s class.

  • John B.

    DD is not even in the top 3 best goalies in the draft. I think most teams would rather have Schneider, Greiss and Rinne.

    On the other hand, a better pick than Schwarz, Shantz and Peters.

    In summary, an ok pick. Not great.

    • Bucknuck

      Don’t be so sure about that. If you put Shea Weber and Suter in Front of DD or Vancouver’s team in front of DD, do you really think his numbers wouldn’t look a heck of a lot better?

      I think DD is the real deal, and his work last year went a long way towards proving me right.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        I have to agree 100%. Look at what happened with Bryz this year when he didn’t have as good a defence in front of him. I think DD my be on par with Schnieder but the only way to find that out would be to have him play in VAN and compare numbers. If we can add Schultz,another veteran D and some consistancy in the bottom 6 this could be a very interesting season ahead.

  • Jonathan,

    The Oilers deserve credit for taking Dubnyk for sure, but in light of some of your past articles (I’m thinking specifically of the humorously titled “You Can’t Draft Goalies and Neither Can Anyone Else”) would you say it’s fair to opine that despite the fact that it was a good pick, it was in fact, a lucky one?

  • John B.

    Yeah Rinne too. The only truly establishid one yet.I agree with Bucknuck though.

    Switch Duby and say Mike Smith last year.

    I can confidently say thier personal numbers would have been drastically different.

    How much different? Well we will never know.

  • Rocknrolla

    I’ve liked the pick since day one..Schwartz seemed like the real deal, I still remember Pierre Mcguirre saying how oilers had to absolutely pick Schwartz to address their goalie situation..
    Two lessons learned..

    1)Pierre Mcguirre has been right about hockey 50 percent of the time, right with his man crush on Zack Parise at the MAP draft..wrong with his man crush on Schwartz at the draft.

    2)You do absolutely never…ever..adress a need in the first round of the draft..MAP over Parise is a living is needing big centermen and Niinimaki and the former..oh yeah, and Dubey was drafted when? 1875? BC? Or AD? Not sure, but either way it’s taken many many years for him to get to over 30 games a seasom in the N. That right there shows he was a project and projects turn out slightly better than ok ohh about 20 percent of the time unless your team hails out of motor city…they’ve got some kind of rediculously smrt gm in that neck of the woods.

  • geoilersgist

    I agree with you Bucknuck. Look at the mediocre numbers Dubby puts up playing behind this defence. Imagine what he would be like on a Nashville/Vancouver team that has 6 fully capable NHL Dmen. Dubby is the real deal and he proving it

  • Rocknrolla

    I think you still dont take a goalie first round as well. Unless it is all world…We could have had Travis Zajac or Mike Green…Oh Hindsight.

    All in all, I like what Dubby has to offer, and think he will just get better and better as we improve the D.

    I remember the Rich Winter advanced stats quoted on Stauffer’s show (link anyone, JW maybe). He was raving about how Dubby is 8 overall in the league and beating out Carey Price in the weighted save percentage. I like this stat and would like to see more from our guys at Basically it says that not all shots are the same. Perimeter shots and easy shots that the goalies with great D face are different from the tough shots in the slot that a guy like Dubby faces 4x more in a game. So
    its a weighted save percentage based on the difficulty and types of shots faced.

    Makes a lot of sense! Also, you gotta love his attitude, and his size…Hopefully we will see the “Emergence of DD as a top NHL Starter” this year.

    • Bucknuck

      It ranks 20th (in goalies who played more than 40 games), and there are only five goalies with a percentage over .925 (same criteria – 40 games)

      Dubnyk is in the middle of the pack, and it’s reasonable to think he could be one percent better if he had a better defense in front of him.

      So yes… I agree.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    I remember being furious with the pick at that time. Why, well I like to go with the established prospect more often than not and the Oilers up to that point had not established they were particularly gifted at going against the grain…to put it mildly!

    I totally wanted Marek Schwartz, not that I was down on DD mind you, but I felt the Oilers missed out on the better prospect. This was one year after they passed up on Zach Parise so I’m sure that did have some bearing on what I thought of the Oilers scouting staff at the time. Dunbyk though, was the guy.

    I know if we had a crystal ball Pekka Rinne would have to have be the choice, but without that hindsight I think that Dubnyk has proven to be the guy thus far of the contending prospects at that spot. (I believe Corey Schneider needs to prove what he can do in a starter’s role before we assume he will keep up his same level of play. A lot of goalies have flamed out when handed the role, after starring previously.)

    Bonus Question:
    Does anyone actually know what happened to Marek Schwartz’s career? I have tried to follow it a few times and never really gotten anywhere. Can anyone fill in the blanks? Thanks…

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    Call me crazy but today I would pick Dubnyk over Schneider..
    I think after Vancouver trades Luongo the Canucks will struggle just to make the playoffs, if they even get there again in the next five years that is..