For the first time in memory, the Oilers "goalie of the future" is the incumbent NHL #1, Devan Dubnyk. In this look at the organization’s goalies, the major question is this: do the Oilers have another NHL goalie in their system?
The Oilers took Dubnyk’s development slowly, and that is the likely template for the kids in the system. Dubnyk’s timeline looks like a Greyhound ‘milk run’ route, as he stopped in every possible place before Edmonton. It did two things: gave Dubnyk time to find his way as a goalie and find better consistency (still an issue), and it gave the organization a chance to decide between DD and Jeff Deslauriers.
Projecting goalies is a loser’s bet. Anyone who tells you they knew Tim Thomas would turn into Tim Thomas is a liar. NHL teams rarely draft goalies as high as Dubnyk went (#14 overall in the "Rob Schremp" draft) because of it. Dubnyk’s progression–and especially his even strength SP totals at the NHL level–suggests he may do the unlikely and cover the draft bet.
His time in Edmonton has been less than ideal, but the career has been a good one. Unlikely HOF level, but beginning with the Jets and then going to Phoenix, winning a Stanley in TBAY and then Chicago, Khabibulin’s 783 NHL games ranks him 16th all-time. 2012-13 is likely to be his last in the NHL, but then again we’re talking about goaltenders. Oiler fans will remember him fondly for his performance in the SCF against Calgary, but his Edmonton years have been a struggle.
Voted AHL ‘Goalie of the Year’ by that league’s coaches and General Managers, Danis re-signed with the Oilers to play in OKC but could end up spending time in Edmonton. The Oilers needed a strong 3rd on the depth chart, and based on his performance with the Barons last season Danis would appear to be a solid option.
Young man enjoyed a strong pro debut season with Stockton (ECHL). One might conclude he is not a top level prospect based on spending time in a second tier pro league as a rookie, but we have to remember that Dubnyk was brought along the same way. Roy was one of the best goalies in that league in 11-12, and he was outstanding in a cup of coffee with the Barons in the AHL. Oiler fans will remember that Roy’s acquisition came via a draft day trade with the Minnesota Wild that brought in the picks that turned into Roy and Kyle Bigos. Roy has to be considered a legit NHL prospect at this time, although the Goalie Guild has stated (before he turned pro) in the past "he plays a very constricted butterfly style and he has plenty of refining and improving to do to his game."
Bunz is my choice as the best goalie ‘bubbling under’ based on an exceptional season in Medicine Hat. One of the indicators for future success among goalies is SP, and Bunz’ final season in the WHL compares well to other goalies drafted by the Oilers during their final junior seasons in the CHL:
- Bunz .921 (2nd WHL)
- Jeff Deslauriers .916
- Devan Dubnyk .912 (tied for 12th WHL)
- Oliver Roy .911 (tied for 4th in QMJHL)
- Bryan Pitton .911 (tied for 9th OHL)
Bunz is 6.01, 203–not Dubnyk large but he covers a lot of net. The smart money has Bunz playing most or all of the 12-13 season in Stockton; Edmonton did that with Dubnyk and with Roy and it would seem to be an organizational discipline. Bunz is an outstanding stickhandler too. The major concern with this player is concussions.
As much as I love following prospects and their progress, getting information on goalies in Europe is a chore. Perhonen is a big, raw goaltending prospect Edmonton drafted in the 3rd round of the draft. The Oilers love the kid, but even the strongest supporters of Perhonen admit he’s going to be a long term development player. A solid showing in the Finnish junior league this season was overshadowed by an uneven performance at higher levels.
Our friend Kirk Luedeke summed up Perhonen very well before the draft: He’s got the lively size, athleticism and solid butterfly technique to be an NHL stopper in time. He reminds us of Tuukka Rask in terms of his body type and playing style and competes with the same kind of swagger and confidence when on top of his game.
There are some things to consider in regard to Tuohimaa. Although he was the last goalie drafted on this list, he’s one month younger than Olivier Roy, meaning that Tyler Bunz (6 months) and Samu Perhonen (18 months) are younger than Tuohimaa.
He’s a tall, thin goalie and is inconsistent based on his play in the SM-Liiga (18, .898). He did perform well in the tier 2 Finnish league but would have to be considered a long shot for NHL employment at this time.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
For an organization that is waiting for the maturation process in most areas, it is interesting to see the goaltending position filled by a player who should be entering the heart of his NHL career. Devan Dubnyk offers the Oilers a young, stable option at an important position. The Oilers need to make certain Dubnyk’s backup is capable (Danis I believe addresses it), but there would seem to be very little need to draft or procure a strong goaltending option with a high pick any time soon.
Outside the NHL, the two best prospects are Roy and Bunz–who could be NHL ready in the next couple of seasons. Although goaltending is not an area of strength, the procurement department has done a good job of drafting and the development department delivered a #1 in Devan Dubnyk. If one of Bunz or Roy can emerge in the next three seasons, Edmonton might have enough depth to deal from strength to address weakness.
It’s been awhile since we could say that about any position.