Is Devan Dubnyk safe as the Oilers starting goalie?

On February 16, Devan Dubnyk was pulled in a game against Colorado after allowing three goals on nine shots. Nikolai Khabibulin replaced him and earned a win, stopping 16 of the 17 shots he faced. Since that game, Dubnyk has started just one contest, while Khabibulin has started three.

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Is Dubnyk secure in the starting role, or could Khabibulin be stealing his job?

Khabibulin’s strong start

It looks right now like head coach Ralph Krueger’s going with a ‘win and you’re in’ approach, though we’re dealing with a small enough sample that this may not be the case. Khabibulin won against Colorado, and was rewarded with a start against L.A.; he lost that game so Dubnyk came in and lost to Minnesota; Khabibulin came back, beat Phoenix, and then got the start against Chicago.

The Chicago start was probably Khabibulin’s weakest of the year, and he was still quite good – Krueger said he played an excellent game in his post-game presser. All of his games have been good, as a quick look at his season statistics shows:

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2011-12 Redux?

If this seems familiar, that’s likely because last season something very similar happened. Khabibulin collapsed down the stretch in 2010-11, and Dubnyk appeared to supplant him as the Oilers starting goaltender. Dubnyk earned the first start of the season, but was given very little rope in the starting role – Khabibulin excelled early, and then-coach Tom Renney turned the job over to him. Renney clearly entered the season with the idea of giving both goalies a shot, and Khabibulin was too good not to play.

From that October 20 win through Christmas, Khabibulin would start 19 games to Dubnyk’s nine, and his play warranted it. The problem was that Renney continued to give Khabibulin starts long after his play had slipped – Dubnyk won the starting job after Christmas and made 30 of the team’s final 48 starts – but Khabibulin still started 18 contests. The Oilers went 1-13-4 in Khabibulin’s starts; 16-11-3 in Dubnyk’s.

The difficulty was knowing when the music would stop for Khabibulin; his start was too good to be true and out of keeping with his post-lockout work. It’s the same problem Ralph Krueger will face if he continues to give Khabibulin starts – we know with relative certainty that Dubnyk is the superior goaltender to Khabibulin, so while riding the hot hand is fine to a point it’s playing with fire if it goes too far.

If Khabibulin had started five games rather than 18 after Christmas last season, and the Oilers kept up their average point percentage with Dubnyk over those 13 additional starts, it would have meant an additional 11 points for Edmonton. Ultimately, that would have worked against the team (no Yakupov, 12th in the West instead of 14th), but it would have put them 10 points out of the playoffs instead of 21. I don’t think it’s crazy to suggest that keeping Khabibulin in the regular rotation probably cost Tom Renney his job.

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Is Khabibulin Just A Hot Starter?

This marks the second season in a row that Khabibulin’s gotten off to a good start in net – is it possible that he is a legitimately good goalie, but that age and injury catch up to him as the season carries on? It’s a nice idea, because it suggests that Khabibulin still has some utility as a strong backup option as long as he isn’t overused by the coach.

Unfortunately, that seems likely not to be the case. In 2005-06, Khabibulin got lit up like a Christmas tree in October (3-7-0, 0.851 SV%) before settling down a little the rest of the way. In 2006-07, his October save percentage was 0.890. In 2007-08, it was 0.892. In 2008-09, it was 0.918 – this was his best post-lockout season, the year he finished with a 0.919 save percentage and convinced the Oilers he was worth a four-year contract. Moving to Edmonton, he got hurt early in 2009-10, and then in 2010-11 posted a 0.901 SV% in October and a 0.847 SV% in November.

In short: it just so happens that his hot streaks have coincided with the beginning of the season the last two years – it would be a mistake to believe that this makes Khabibulin viable as long as his playing time is kept low.

What I Would Do

It’s great that Khabibulin has played so well for the Oilers, but everything he’s done since the 2004-05 lockout suggests that it’s going to stop, it’s going to stop soon, and when it stops he’s going to be bad. As Tyler Dellow points out in that linked piece above, Khabibulin has a 0.905 save percentage since turning 30, and we can probably expect him to be worse than his career average going forward given his age.

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With that in mind, I’d play him in back-to-backs and otherwise keep him on the bench. Dubnyk is the much better option, the guy that is more likely to give the team a chance to win every night, and he should be started accordingly. One of the nice side effects of this decision is that it virtually guarantees Khabibulin won’t have a chance to see his save percentage drop – and at the deadline, given that he’s a Cup-winner, by all accounts a good, veteran, professional, and in the final year of his contract maybe, just maybe, he’ll be worth a draft pick from another team.

I certainly wouldn’t give him a chance to do to me what he did to the 2011-12 Oilers, and to Tom Renney.

To answer the title question: if Devan Dubnyk isn’t safe as the Oilers’ starter, somebody isn’t paying attention to recent history.

Recently by Jonathan Willis


  • PlayDirty

    I also agree. The Bulin Wall is looking pretty decent though lately but if you’re a disciplined coach you’ve got to see the logic that presented itself last year. Man the game against Chicago was ragged. Smid and Petry looked terrible. I just don’t see Smid making any decent breakout passes. He’s become the classic chip it out of there defenseman. He’s hardly a supreme shutdown D. We need to upgrade our D bigtime.

      • So you run Roy and Bunz in OKC and DD and Danis in Etown for their respective playoff run(hypothetical) or are you looking at aquiring another G?? And if so what would we really be gaining in that situation with a 6th round pick?

        • I’d be more comfortable with that if Danis were having a better season, but worst case scenario (assuming the Oilers are out of it) I’m fine with that. Otherwise, we’ve seen a lot of pretty decent goalies on the waiver wire.

          Basically, the assumption here is that Khabibulin’s likely to post a 0.905 SV% or lower the rest of the way, which means he’s replaceable by a competent AHL goalie.

      • Our issues are numerous and obvious, but our goalkeeping this year has been really good (minus the first SJ game). Whether Khabi can keep it up is irrelevant at this point. He is playing well and helping the team get points. The organization has known for years that he isn’t the answer going forward – what has changed this month? Nothing. So why make a decision on him now when he is actually playing well and giving us a legitimate option in net? Suggesting we trade Khabi now is low hanging fruit. He is the least of our problems at the moment and won’t bring much in return. Trade deadline.

  • Romanus

    At this point of a rebuild, you have to think of playoff runs like a rowing race. If you push too soon, you’ll lead for a bit, yet will have little chance of winning the race.

    If Oilers somehow get close to playoffs this year (which they will not), the team should make zero moves that only have a short term impact.

    This team needs to look to build up towards 2 years from now and going forward. This means no more short term fixes like wasting a 3rd rounder on Fistric, or acquiring assets that are not tradeable before they become UFAs. Now is the time to stock up on draft picks, and as many prospects as possible, so when the time comes to make a legitimate cup run, we will have many tradeable assets to pick up any short term (or potentially long term) help that is required.

    • PlayDirty

      This is the loser attitude we need to finally break away from! We need to win games before these guys give up! The longer we suck the harder it’s going to be to get a winning attitude! We need to do whatever we can to start winning now

  • MattyFranchise

    Honestly, trade one of the fab four for an actual defense man. Yak is an unknown, Hall drives the play like nobody else on the team so it’s time to let go of Eberle or the Nuge. Dub may or may not be a starter but Emery and Crawford aren’t starters either.

    There are very few goalies that win games for teams but a lot that lose games for teams. This team needs defense.

    Also, to address a comment made earlier, there is a remarkable amount of parity in the WC aside from ANA and CHG… it’s not laughable that the Oil may be in the mix come trade deadline time.

    • A-Mc

      This post has merit.

      My personal Opinion is that Emery was really shaky last night, and if the Oilers were given some breathing room, They would have lit him up like a Christmas tree.

      The success of Emery in last nights game came from the 5 Chicago skaters on the ice IMO.

      I’m not sure who goes in a trade, but i do think we need 1 more solid defenseman and 1 big top 6 forward.

      My list of names that are trait bait:

      Nuge (Maybe)
      Hemsky
      Gagner (Maybe. I may look at moving Nuge before Gagner)
      Paajarvi
      Petrell
      Hartikeinen

      Petry
      Whitney
      Potter
      Peckham

      This years 2nd round pick.
      Next years 1st round pick.

      • Ducey

        Is that you Mr Milbury?

        Anyone suggesting we trade one of Hall, Nuge, or Eberle is on crack.

        Those 3 players play the best lines on other teams and beat them in Rel Corsi (they outshoot them) every night. And they are all still on their ELC’s!

        Compare that to teams like Vancouver who line match to keep the Sedins away from tough minutes.

        Can you imagine how awesome Nuge is going to be when he is 25? You are going to give that away so you can do a little better this year?

        Give your head a shake.

        • A-Mc

          I get what you’re saying. I do.

          But If the organization determines they need a big top 6 centerman, then he naturally pushes out Nuge or Gagner.

          It’s logical to think that Gagner or Nuge would be going in the other direction as partial payment. Big Top 6 Centermen are really tough to get, and if you want one – you’re not going to get it with Petry + Omark + 2nd round pick.

          I had a Maybe next to Nuge’s name because there is only very specific deals that would make sense to me to move him.

          FOR EXAMPLE. This is totally made up and would NEVER fly, but what if this deal could be made: Petry + Nuge for Malkin. Would you do it? I’d look at it.

          My point is that if you want something good, you’re going to have to do something that stings a little, and IMO the only sting I’m willing to suffer with regards to the new guys is a loss of Nuge as part of a deal to bring us a #1 Centerman.

          IDEALLY: We’d move Hemsky + Prospect for a big top 6 Talent (Likely winger) and we’d keep Nuge and Gagner.

        • A-Mc

          It wasnt in order of importance. It was just how i think of the team: Top line down.

          Read my explanation above to help clarify for yourself. I dont think we SHOULD trade nuge. I’m just saying that if he is requested by the other team to be part of a package to bring you a big topline centerman, I would look at it as a Maybe.

          PS: yes i watch the games. i PVR every single one and watch it 2-3 times

          • Spydyr

            If you trade assets that may help you in 3 years you better be getting something back that will help you then. Now is not the time to trade draft picks as you stated. Now in 3 years when the team should be contending you might trade draft picks to fill some holes or put you over the top.Until then build for the future.The future is not this year.Why give away something that may help you to win a Cup to get 8th spot and a first round ass kicking.

          • A-Mc

            Opportunity.

            What the Oilers are looking for doesn’t come around each year in the off season or at Trade Deadline. If given the opportunity to bring something HUGE into your organization, You have to look at it today, even though the ideal timing might be 2 years from now.

            But i agree with you on one thing. There is no sense bringing in a piece today that will likely expire in the 2-4 years it’s going to take for the rest of your team to catch up.

            In my totally bogus example trade that would never happen, i suggested i would definitely look at a: Petry + Nuge for Evegni Malkin.

            That’s a trade i would do today as Malkin is only 26. He would help today and he would help in 2-4 years from now.

            My Personal Opinion is that the Oilers are very close to tipping the balance in their favor. I think they’ll be in the playoffs in the next year or two. but i do think that success will come with atleast 1 Acquisition of either a bigger top 6 forward (likely winger because they are cheaper) and/or a solid D to replace what Ryan Whitney was supposed to be. 1 Piece + another year experience, and i think we could see the playoffs.

  • PlayDirty

    I wonder if Khabby actually provides any sort of mentor ship for Dubnyk? You’d think he’d be able to with nearly 20 years in the league, but he doesn’t strike me as that sort.

    We need two guys – not management – who have won Cups on this team. Check that; guys that played at least a moderate role in their team winning the Cup. Guys who know what it takes.

    • The Soup Fascist

      Last episode of Oil Change, Dubnyk raved about Khabby as a teammate and mentor. Basically said Khabby was very generous with his time / knowledge and always was happy to help Dubey out and he felt nothing but support from the old timer.

      Now, one can question how effective the mentorship has been …… but it does sound like Khabby is doing his best.*

      *Unless it was Khabby who suggested he do the lame Capital Power commercials, then he is obviously trying to drive Dubey out of town.

  • MarcusBillius

    He’s safe. Khabi is old. Oilers need to see if Dubnyk can carry the load, that’s why he has a two-year deal.

    Khabi only started a second in a row because it was Chicago.

  • gr8one

    Dubnyk is a big goalie, yet plays smaller. Watch the goals scored on him in his last start: he tends to flinch inwards – pulling his arms and elbows in as the shot approaches. Big positional goalies like him and ward and quick need to block shots not field them by flinging out the arm or mixing out a leg.

    Ward and quick seem to blow up like puffer fish as the shot approaches. Quick say he even leans his body forward to angle off the top of the net.

    Dubnyk does neither.

    And I think these and other technical shortcomings are obvious to the coaching staff. Thus Kroeger goes with khabi as long as he keeps stopping g shots.

    And so yet another shortcoming – high quality reliable goaltending – that everyone knew was a question mark at the beginning of the year looks to still be unaddressed by KL&T.

    • PlayDirty

      I picked up on that ‘flinch’ as well last game. Wondered if he was trying to protect the 7-hole? …let them have it – I don’t think most shooters are ballsy enough to go there consistently.

      • Spydyr

        I thought the same thing – blocking the seven hole rather than playing the odds and showing shooters less net. Seems pretty clear that some shooters are figuring out that he’s weak to the glove side as a result.

  • Spydyr

    The Oilers extended an outrageous contract based on a small sample size yet again

    They did it with Pasani and Horcoff also.

    They could have signed Anderson but took Khabi instead.

    Hindsight is 20/20 but when the same mistakes are made over and over again a pattern develops.

    • GVBlackhawk

      The same can be said for Jordan Eberle. I get that he put up two reasonable years statistically but I don’t think that warrants a six year 36 million dollar deal.

      He has been mediocre against tougher competition this season and his production is down. If Tambellini had not jumped the gun, they could likely have gotten Ebs signed for 1 – 1.5 million per year less. Had Eberle put up a strong season, you could still use Hall’s contract as a benchmark.

      This is another example of poor management.

      Eberle is a great asset, but I would prefer the team parlay him into some quality, established defense. The team will continue to flounder until the defensive issues are addressed.

  • gr8one

    One other possibility is they are “showcasing” him in the hopes that he continues his solid play long enough to increase his trade value nearer the deadline.

    One can dream.

  • Ravo

    If we somehow get a 4th rd pick for Khabibulin then i will come to the conclusion that.

    The janitor who cleans Tambellini’s office, accidentally disconnected the phone while vacuuming back in August 08. While dropping his dusting rag notices it 4 1/2 years later and reconnects it.

    Tambellini is sat in his office trying to figure out how to operate the blinds with the TV remote he stole from Detriot, when he hears a several rings turning he smiles at the phone. (we all know that smile) For the first time in 4 1/2 years answers the phone “hello”, and BAM just like that we get a 4th rd pick for Khabibulin. Tambellini scratching his head thinks that was easy and decides to make a call, and BAM Whitney, Gagner, Hemskey and our 1st rd 2013 pick are traded for Lucic, Seguin and McQuaid .
    The janitor unknowingly has created a methed up version of a unmad Mike Milbury, and BAM Belanger, Peckham and a 2nd rd pick for Brassard and Erixon.

  • Chris.

    6 games in 9 nights upcoming.

    Both are going to play. That both are playing well going into the toughest stretch of the season is great.

    The pace from here to the end of the season is pretty intense.

    Two goaltenders sharing the load is a pretty good situation to be in.

    Viewing a potential strength as a “problem” is just silly, IMHO.

    Plus, there are teams that might be interested in Khabibulin at the trade deadline if he is playing well. The Oilers actually might be able to get a draft pick for him.

    Even Grant Fuhr reclaimed the net in the playoffs the following year for a lot of games after Ranford had won the Cup.

  • Spydyr

    Dubnyk is currently ranked 11th among all goalies who have started at least 10 games this season. I’m not saying he is perfect, but if you are going to try and replace him, you are going to have to trade for a top 10 goalie. Those guys are very hard to come by.

    Dubnyk has been solid and I’m not sure what the strategy is by sitting him out an entire week. It is very clear that Khabibulin won’t be your starter when this team is a real contender, so why aren’t they playing the goalie that will be. Khabby should only be played in the back-to-back games, while Dubnyk plays the rest.

  • Zipdot

    Watching Patrick Kane last night was a treat………for a guy who hardly moves his legs, he sure flies out there! Must have taken power skating lessons when he was young………last year.

    Is is jus me or does Eberle, RNH, and Schultz look tired. Maybe they were overplayed in OKC? In any regards something needs to change to alter the dynamics on this team…….our game and general puck management strategy is all to predictible.

    If any one know the answer, exactly what was Belenger brought in for? Watching the guy play hockey reminds me of Anson Carter………no heart, no skills, but can skate fast ocassionally.

    • I agree with you on the kids. I’m sure that RNH is hurt, and I think it’s that left shoulder, doesn’t seem like he can get much on it, even while he’s passing, seemed much better last year. Schultz is beat, not used to this many games.

      Although once again I’ll have to disagree with you on Belanger(I know he’s your whipping boy this season Rama) just look at the PK this year. Belanger is a HUGE part of that.

      And you gotta hand it to the guy, he’s playing with 2/3 broken toes!!

  • And lest I get the ‘why are you talking about trading Khabibulin if the return is so small’ comment, that’s not what this is about – that’s a potentially small bonus. What this is about is starting the guy with the much better post-2005 track record, the guy who gives the team the better chance to win.

  • paul wodehouse

    …well there you have it ladies…and gents …JW “…I’m a little worried…”

    officially starting the countdown when our GM will extend 35 as next years’ backup…of course why wouldn’t he do that … our GM’s done little else to really improve the state of our goaltending ‘sitch'(and no Dubnyk’s not safe as a starter because he’s not starter caliber) let alone the bottom six forwards or anymore top pairing Dmen… dollars to donuts he’s gonna give him a two year deal at a million+ per …saves him a ton of work to actually go out and do any sort of deal so why not…?

  • because you can’t have a hockey season without goaltender controversy…we must make khabbi’s recent starts bigger than what it is…

    Dubnyk has faced a lot of shots in the first 18 games he has actually probably played 23.

    So the kid is the no.1 and he will get his starts back. This last stretch was excellent use of schedule to rest your No. 1 goalie before another heavy load.

    A week in between starts where only 2 games where played – great coaching!

    Fully expect Dubnyk to shutout the Stars on Thursday – redemption for the junk goals(never happen again in 1000 tries) scored on him the last time they played.

  • Dubby droped the ball last game he played and Habby has been playing great. I think you go back to Dubby but if he drops the ball again, its dejvu all over and you have to think Dubby will not be the goalie for the future.

    Like sportsnet said last night. The future is now. Dubby is dropping the ball a bit.

  • paul wodehouse

    No panic folks, both goalies had an easy week. Habby started because of his background with the Hawks, nothing more to the story . Move along.

    Habby will not be resigned for next year , I would bet my last dollar on it. My concern would be development of a backup for Dubnyk for next year. As with a lot of the positions in the OKC, there isnt much happening in terms of futures for the Oilers. So much for the magic of Stu Macgregor.

  • Word to the Bird

    Dubnyk’s goaltending is perfectly fine. The only reason he lets in the goals that he does is because his defense give up chances that only scott gomez couldn’t score on.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Playing Dub more last year would have resulted in more wins, a higher finish and no Yak and this would have been some grave error? Willis, you must agree that Yak is completely in over his head this year. He has no business playing in the NHL. He has no clue what to do when he doesn’t have the puck in the offensive zone. Granted, any player would have difficulty living up to the hype supplied by local media. In what was a weak draft year, a first overall pick was never going to land us a generational talent even if management did all they could to spin last year’s failure that way.

    This year, goaltending has NOT been a problem. Our tenders, playing behind an AHL defence and a forward group lacking any sort of gristle, have been adequate. Trading Khabbi won’t return much now,maybe at the deadline I suppose because we will not realistically be in a position to challenge for a top 8 spot after this road trip. However, if we deal him we have no NHL calibre back-up in the system. This has to be addressed in the offseason, along with the myriad other deficiencies. Years to go before we are competitive.

    • You understand what generational talent means right? It means one player is the leading talent of his generation(Crosby, Gretzky, Lemieux, Richard) and they only come around once in a……you guessed it…….generation.

      Yak is doing just fine, tied for second in goals on the team..

      They made the right pick.

      And please don’t expect a rookie to change a whole team or to even know what to do at all times in the best league in the world.

      • DSF

        Alex Galchenyuk

        C

        6’1″ 200 lbs

        19GP 3G 9A 12P

        +8.

        Are you sure they made the right pick?

        Galchenyuk is getting about half the PP TOI that Yakupov has been getting but has as many points.

        Galchenyuk has 3G and 8A at even strength while Yakupov has only 2G and 3A.

        P/60 5V5

        Yakupov – 1.56

        Galchenyuk – 3.05 (2nd among Canadiens forwards)

        While I think Yakupov is going to be a good player, the Oilers needed a big, tough centre far more than they needed another scoring winger.

        • Pretty small sample size there DSF, and you have to admit that its hard to take a guy 1st overall when he didn’t play at all his draft year. You have to admit that would have been a huge risk

          • GVBlackhawk

            DSF is the king of extrapolating from small sample sizes. There is ZERO validity constructing an argument with such a small N value. I’ve said this to him ad nauseum but he just doesn’t get it.

            Apparently it still fools some people.

        • Krueger is mismanaging Yakupov, and if he’s not careful he could bolt to the KHL.

          Yakupov is almost the leading scorer on the Oilers while getting almost zero quality minutes.

          Yakupov will be better in the long run.

          can’t argue about Galcheyuk, great player.

          • Yakupov almost the leading scorer of the Oil?

            So Eberle last year playing 17 mins a night was almost a ppg. This year playing 20 mins where is he. So if Yakupov plays 20 mins is he putting up more points? That impossible to conclude not factoring in all the variables.

            Yakupov or Galchenyuk? If Galchenyuk was not injured last year, there probably would of been a debate, Yakupov would not have been the clear conscensus pick. There is nothing to suggest that Yakupov will be the best in the long run other then opinion. When Ovi and Malkin were drafted, who would of thought Malkin would of been the superior player, but after 8 years whos better? Easy answer right now. Malkin may be the best player in the league, and Ovi is not in the top ten anymore.

            I wish the Oil could of traded down, but when the conscensus first pick is Yakupov, you have to take him. Galchenyuk might as well be the better player long term.

          • http://oilers.nhl.com/club/stats.htm

            Yakupov is in 4th place in scoring, one point below Eberle playing half his minutes.

            Yakupov is only 5 points away from Hall playing in his first year at only half the amount.

            All I am saying is give the kid 3-5 minutes more a game and watch him go.

            I actually am saying Yakupov is the better player here.

            You cannot argue that Galchenyuk is not equal to or as good as Yakupov, they are both terrific players.

          • Wax Man Riley

            Krueger is NOT mismanaging Yakupov. That is an Oilers Fan(ish) buzzword.

            “They mismanaged Gagner”—(to be fair they totally did by rushing him)

            “They mismanaged Cogliano” — (Same thing, rushed him)

            “They mismanaged Deslauriers” — (TOTALLY did! No farm team???? wtf??)

            And now with Yakupov they can actually afford to bring him along slowly. Play him on a lower line with veterans. Let him learn the NHL game, goalies, players, schedule, etc… without having the pressure of the team losing if he doesn’t contribute. There is actual depth for the first time in forever.

            People talk about The Detroit Model. Detroit has been able to bring guys along slower because they have depth. It is a good thing that Yak plays 14 min a night instead of 20.

          • Do you honestly believe what you just said?

            So what you are saying is that Yakupov WILL benefit from playing with Petrell and Vandevelde?

            So who exactly is the veteran on that line? The AHL player or the second year guy?

            So, the Detroit model, bringing guys in slowly……..Like Hall, Eberle or RNH?

            Where is this depth you speak of?

            The Oilers lose Horcoff of all the players to lose and the good ship Oilers almost sinks…..That depth!

            This needs serious re-evaluation..

          • Wax Man Riley

            Oilers lose Horcoff and everything sinks?? Center depth is pretty weak, but Yakupov plays wing. The point is that he doesn’t have to be the man on the top line. Oilers have top line players. Hall, Eberle, Hemsky, and an audition spot.

            Yes. Yakupov benefits playing on the 3rd line. Easier competition, less minutes, veterans taking the lead.

            When Horcoff comes back I want to see him centering the 3rd line with Yakupov and Smyth/PRV/Jones

            He is not being mismanaged.

          • GVBlackhawk

            I don’t mind his minutes but completely agree with you…they should not put him on a line with two boat anchors.

            FWIW, I don’t see Yak as the big problem on the second line. Yes, his defensive game needs work but Gagner and Hemsky are the veterans and their defensive acumen has been subpar this year. This has not changed by taking Yak off their line. Time for Gagner and Hemsky to take some responsibility in their own zone.

          • Wax Man Riley

            Hall and RNH were put in the positions right after their draft year out of necessity and lack of depth.

            Eberle went back to junior, played in 2 WJCs, played in the AHL and World Championships before playing his first NHL game. He was 20 before playing his first game. Not 18. Big difference.

          • You got me on Eberle….my bad.

            Hall,RNH to some extent Paajarvi and Lander, even in Paajarv second year, he was badly mismanaged.

            Now, we can completly agree that Yakupov can learn with Horcoff and Smyth, two players that can help shape this kid…….Not two plugs that wont be in the NHL in two years….IMHO

          • Wax Man Riley

            For sure…. playing him with fringe AHL’ers in the NHL doesn’t help one bit, unless it is to have him be “the man” on that line.

            But 3rd line with at least 1 veteran is the way to go. Gagner and Hemsky are not the best fit this year though. That spot is better for a left winger.

        • I agree, it would have then given the Oilers the ability to trade Gagner (who I like).

          If Galchenyuk had not missed that one year, he would have gone first overall. He would have been the BPO plus fit organizational needs.

          • DSF

            While I admit it’s early, all the available evidence is that Galchenyuk is a BETTER HOCKEY PLAYER.

            That the Oilers could have then flipped Gagner for a top 4 defenseman makes the decision to draft Yakupov even worse.

    • GVBlackhawk

      The Oilers defence has been good. The Oilers play 55-60 percent of the game in their own end and much of this do to no sustainable pressure in other teams ends.

      I think a top four of Shultz and Shults and Smid and Petry has been the one of the surprises. The lack of any offensive zone presence and negative corsi by every forward not named Nuge, Eberle, or Hall, this defence core has been solid concidering. There are times they swim in their own zone, but I don’t think any defence core would be any different.

  • Ducey

    I would guess that had Bulin not been playing well and coming off a win, that DD would have started last night.

    As it is, go with the hot hand for a night or two. There are lots of games coming up. Both will get to play a lot.

    Getting bent out of shape over whether its now 70/30 in favour of DD rather than a projected 80/20 seems a little silly.

    If JW is correct and Bulin will not keep this up, why not ride him a bit more until he does start to fade? Then flip him for a pick.

    Only in Oilersfanland would the media be getting worked up about the fact we have 2 good goalies!

  • Reg Dunlop

    Dubby’s job should be safe. He should of started last game and they would of won. He would of stopped the second and third goal. Khabby’s been good, and deserved the starts, but he was average last night and you should start your number one in Chicago. Lost a point last night we needed.

  • vetinari

    On the issue of goaltending– I just can’t shake this feeling that there is something about Dubnyk that is preventing management and coaches from fully committing to him… either it’s a confidence thing or a technique thing but they seem to always be grooming him as a goaltender for the future rather than a goaltender of today.

    As for trading one of the kids (Nuge, Eberle, Hall, Yakupov and J. Schultz)– it won’t happen and nor should it. They are our future and you have to remember that these are 18 to 20 year olds competing againt men– wait to see what they can do when they are 25-28! You only trade one of them when you need salary cap relief– not when they are underperforming against men for a few games in one season.

    • A-Mc

      “…not when they are under performing against men for a few games in one season.”

      If you’re referring to my post that has a Nuge (Maybe) listed on it for Trade bait, i just want to let you know that it has nothing to do with his current performance.

      It has everything to do with the fact that the piece coming the other way would HAVE to be his direct replacement.

    • Spydyr

      I imagine their avoiding having to pay top dollar. If you play Khabby and he gives you similar results, maybe they save on a contract in two years.

      They don’t want to pay him 5 plus.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    MacKinnon and Gudbranson would be fine additions to this falls line up. One’s in the bag and shouldn’t have to give up one of the fab 5 to get the other.

    Krueger’s just doing it his way and starting the goalie that gives the team the best chance to win. Not Ralphs fault when Dubnyk isn’t that guy some nights. Khabibulin’s just the better goalie right now. The Luongo option is starting to look good now as the season marches on.

    • A-Mc

      Of course, Dubnyk has a better save percentage than Luongo behind a much weaker defense. I guess it just Oiler’s perception that the other guy on the other team always looks better no matter what the stats say.