The Third Man

The Edmonton Oilers have drafted and developed just two impact goaltenders in their long history. Is Devan Dubnyk the third?

The Impact Guys

In 1980, the second NHL Entry Draft of their existence, the Edmonton Oilers picked their first goalie with the 132nd overall selection. Despite being a seventh round pick (and an overager), Andy Moog was a spectacular success for the Oilers. He played more than 700 regular season games, appeared in the all-star game four times, on five occasions had a top-10 NHL save percentage, and finished his career with three Stanley Cup rings. Only 22 goalies in history have played more games between the pipes at the NHL level.

A year later, the Oilers spent their eighth overall selection on Spruce Grove native Grant Fuhr. Fuhr was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003 after a career that saw him win four Stanley Cups as a starter (five in total), as well as the Vezina and Jennings trophies. He ranks ninth in both career games played and total wins, and his #31 was elevated to the rafters at Rexall Place in 2001.

The Rest

It’s a long, long step drop to the Oilers’ next most successful homegrown goaltender. Jussi Markkanen, drafted as a 26-year old back in 2001, currently sits third among Oilers draftees with 128 games played in the NHL. With 101 games under his belt, Devan Dubnyk already sits fourth on the list.

Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers has played 62 NHL games, picking up four with the Anaheim Ducks this season. He’s struggled for two full years now at the AHL level (really struggled – in 35 AHL games in 2010-11 he put up a 0.906 SV%; he managed a 0.881 SV% in 16 games with Syracuse this season) and at 28 may already have played more NHL games to date than he will over the rest of his career.

The highly likable Mike Morrison earned 25 of his 29 NHL games in 2005-06, when he was pressed into service after the “Conkkanen” duo imploded. If I remember correctly he got called up just in time for a team bag skate, and ended up losing his lunch as a result. His stats line the next season was truly remarkable: a 0.790 SV% in four games with Phoenix, a 0.732 SV% in two games with San Antonio (AHL) and a 0.790 SV% in four games with Phoenix (ECHL).

Darryl Reaugh (more famous as a colourman than an NHL’er) and Joaquin Gage are the only others on the list to play more than 20 games in the NHL.

Dubnyk

There’s very little doubt that Dubnyk will eclipse Jussi Markkanen’s NHL games played totals this year, and if he has a good season it should lock him in as the Oilers presumptive starter for the next few years. It’s still a long gap between “NHL starter” and Fuhr/Moog country, but Dubnyk’s just turned 26 and has time.

Behind him in the system, the potential is there for a couple of others to buck the Oilers’ woeful history in net. 2009 draft pick Olivier Roy had an excellent rookie season as a professional and should get time in the AHL next year; highly-touted 2010 pick Tyler Bunz will likely take his place in the ECHL.

  • O.C.

    Rarely does a goaler become an all star starter from out of no where. DD hasnt proven he won’t be the exception, nor that he will be.

    But, he may end up being the great second option when the younger goalers in the system mature. I.E. a good interim solution.

  • I think Dubnyk has a good career as an NHL starter ahead of him. I think everyone would be shocked and obviously very happy if he ever attained the same type of elite status that Moog and Fuhr enjoyed.

    If any one of our 3 goalies attain that kind of level we will be looking at a couple of cups in the next 5 years.

  • Goose

    If Dubnyk is the answer for this team, we are in a lot of trouble. Lack of consistency and terrible upstairs, especially for a big man. He has improved his lateral movement but has a long way to go.

  • Goose

    Good article. Hopefully Dubnyk continues to develop the mental fortitude required to be a starter in the NHL. God knows it’s a huge need for the team…

    One small correction though – Grant Fuhr won FIVE Cups. He was injured and unable to participate in the 1990 Cup run, but he was still part of the team until getting dealt to Toronto in September 1991.

  • D

    I’ve been a fan of Dubnyk since seeing him single handedly carry this team in a game played in Los Angeles a few years ago. That being said, it’s hard to see him becoming the impact player of the calibre of Grant Fuhr.

    May Dubnyk please prove me wrong. May he please first do so in 12-13.

  • Action Jackson

    He is so positionally sound and big that he may become the steady presence we have been looking for. Jonathan you should do an article tracking how well each ‘goaltending style’ does relative to each other. That would give us an idea of what Dubnyk’s ceiling could be using his style.

  • Action Jackson

    Well, he gets his shot at NO. 1, this year.
    Hope he takes this summer to work on is pucking handling and lateral movement.
    Hope Oilers dont get into many “Shoot Out” games.
    He has played some really good games, but I think he had more stinkers last year than good.
    Always that one bad one per game. Hope that’s behind him now.

  • Spydyr

    With managements recent track record ( up to 5 years worth ) of evaluation one has to wonder if this might be another missassessment going with Dubnyk . Luongo might be worth a try ? Proven over hope and hype might be beneficial if used more often ?

  • I still have my reservations about Dubnyk as a long term solution at #1, but there is no question that he’s the best goalie the Oilers have available right now.

    I really like the path that Tyler Bunz has been taking on his way to professional hockey, but he could play 2 more seasons before playing his first NHL game at this point.

    I’m hoping that playing as the regular #1 will keep the rust off of Dubnyk and lower the amount of times he lets in those brutal goals. He’s been letting too many softies for a couple seasons. The last portion of the year seemed more promising in that regard though.

    • master of my domain

      The other goalie I’m interested in is Oliver Roy… He should be splitting duty with Danis in OKC this year… Assuming he’s plays to the calibre he did in the ECHL – he may have a better shot than Bunz in the short term…

      After this year, I’d like to see the Oil sign a FA to compete for the starter’s job – rather than bring up Roy or Bunz… A Josh Harding type goaltender for the next two years would give Roy and Bunz a ton of ice time in the minors to properly develop… Goalies need additional time to develop – and with both Roy and Bunz, we don’t need to screw them over like we did with JD and Dubie years ago…

  • Spydyr

    What we do know is our encombant personnel will keep us as a continuing basement dweller . Shultz and Yakupov unlikely to change our fortunes to any great extent . Our base is subpar beyond our youth elites – possibly the worst in entire league as 29-30 suggest and bear out . Veterans over used , and burn out faster than even perennial Flames do ending each year . Endictment of managements ability to properly assess or trade for upgrades each and every year since rebuild began . Can they change now ? Not looking like it once again .

    • Oh so true, The youth isn’t a problem here at all its the Vets. Bringing all the same back is a joke. Does Tambo really think he can trade any of them???? only to a team who has a plan of finishing dead last for a couple seasons.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The Oilers will be paying their backup 3.5 next yr as well, only difference is that backup will be Dubey instead of Khabby. Bunz arrives on the scene ala early 80’s Grant Fuhr. Straight from jrs to the show and puts Dubey where he belongs, on the bench. The forth guy (Mr Bunz) is just alot better much earlier than Mr. Third guy.

  • master of my domain

    thanks for the Fuhr vid JW. it brought me back many memories of playing road hockey goalie as a kid and trying to convince myself that I was a leftie so that I could look “cool” like Fuhr with the glove on my right hand.

    • Charlie Huddy

      That’s funny, I remember a great save Fuhr made while I was a kid where Fuhr drove across the net and the puck bounced off the end of his stick, narrowly missing the net. I use to position my self far to one side of the net, trying to recreate that save and never accomplishing it. Why my friends allowed me to play in net I have no idea.

  • 2004Z06

    Nobody made a routine glove save look as awesome as Fuhr. Nobody. I still remember the series against the Islanders and the cover of the Journal sports section with the title “Moog’s million dollar glove”

    Those were the days!

  • Mooseroni

    Nice Moog video. Classic fan song a la eighties.

    I wonder how long it will take for the “you can find me in the dome, chillin with Jerome” song to sound just as old…..wait..

  • Mooseroni

    Dubnyk sill has to prove he’s a legit Number One, 55-60 games guy, let alone someone you can win a Cup with, but he is clearly improving year by year and was the key to the Oilers improved record in the second half of last season.

    The kid has improved every year and the tale will be told this season. In fact his performance is likely the biggest factor in the team’s success or failure this coming year. If he stumbles, they will have to go digging for a Number One, although Bunz might eventually be the man.

    My guess is that Dube will turn out to be a Number One, buy maybe not a good enough one for a team with Cup ambitions. I would dispute people putting too much emphasis on his save percentage, a statistic which means little outside of context, not that it is that bad. Do you really think Brian Elliot is a great goalie? Or is it the Blues D plus the Hitch system that is causing those impressive numbers? Give Dube a good defence and then see how he does. Patrick Roy would struggle behind the Oilers of the last few years.

  • Mooseroni

    Given JW’s Carol Reed obsession I wonder what comes next. An article called The Fallen Idol about Chris Pronger? Or Kevin Lowe. No clue how you work in Night Train to Munich, Jonathan, unless RK rode it once in his Euro days.

    You could switch Brit directors and give us Roy Baker’s A Night to Remember featuring Sam Gagner. Except its about the Titanic! Or Ken Loach’s Hidden Agenda about the Oilers talking the fall for high draft picks or his Riff-Raff about either our depth defencemen or our pro scouts. Top films.

    How about David Lean’s version of the Dickens’ classic Great Expectations? More likely to see another edition of Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game as we flail away again at the bottom of the standings again. or Richard Lester’s Beatles film, Help!

  • Walter

    It’s about time the Oilers actually paid attention to developing goalies. They should move from junior to the ECHL to the AHL and finally the big show. How could we expect Deslaurier to progress when their was no farm team to speak of and he was second string to the other team’s guy when Oilers prospects were scattered throughout the AHL. I’m not saying he would have turned into the second coming of Fuhr but he didn’t even have a chance.
    At least Roy and Bunz have a shot at developing in an Oiler farm system.