Devan Dubnyk had a terrible season, but he isn’t blaming Edmonton goalie coach Frederic Chabot.
“He’s been incredible for me,” said Dubnyk, who told CBC’s Elliotte Friedman that he’d like to keep working with Chabot.
Trotz and Dubnyk
The first thing likely to come to mind when talking about the Oilers’ goaltending coach is that little thing then-Predators head coach Barry Trotz said to a Nashville radio station after Dubnyk’s first start in that city:
We got Devan from Edmonton, and what we realized very quickly was that Devan has a lot of… I’ll say bad habits he’s picked up this year. We started him at home, and you could really see he was out of sync in his game, so we wanted to spend some time with him working with [goalie coach] Mitch Korn, just being able to get his game in order.
Trotz later clarified that statement, saying that he wasn’t criticizing Edmonton’s coaches. Devan Dubnyk’s comments at that same juncture are worth looking at, too:
If you look at the way the year has gone, it doesn’t have anything to do with Edmonton. It’s certainly been the most difficult year of hockey for me to date. I think anytime things aren’t going your way, you start to overthink things because you’re so caught up in what’s going on around you. You want to win, of course, but you’re not quite as focused on the technical aspects as you should be. I know without Chabot, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I know that, 100 percent. There was no shot there.
Chabot’s Development Track Record
Trotz’s comments got a lot of attention not only because of Dubnyk’s collapse, but also thanks to a perception that the Oilers haven’t been good at developing goalies. Is that a fair perception?
The trouble is that there really isn’t very much material to judge him on. The Oilers have only really had four young goalies in their North American system (though doubtless Chabot also had at least limited dealings with European prospects Samu Perhonen and Frans Tuohimaa) since Chabot’s hiring from Hockey Canada in the summer of 2009.
Aside from Dubnyk, the quartet includes a trio of fifth-round picks: Bryan Pitton, Olivier Roy and Tyler Bunz. We’ll key in on the latter three before returning to Dubnyk:
- Bryan Pitton. Pitton posted a 0.886 ECHL save percentage the year before Chabot joined the organization. After a brief spike (0.925 save percentage at the same level in Chabot’s first season) he settled in as a roughly 0.900 save percentage ECHL’er.
- Olivier Roy. Drafted the same summer Chabot was hired, Roy had a strong professional debut in the ECHL (0.925 save percentage), posted middling numbers in limited minutes in the AHL last season (0.902 save percentage) and was dealt to Calgary after just four games this season in the Ladislav Smid trade.
- Tyler Bunz. One of just three goalies drafted under Chabot’s watch (and the only one of the three to play much in North America so far), Bunz has struggled. He posted a 0.886 save percentage in his ECHL debut last season and just climbed over the 0.900 mark in 13 games this year.
There’s not a lot there: one late pick who was terrible before Chabot was hired, one who could still go either direction (though he’s not trending well) and a third late selection who seems to be a bust.
Then there’s Dubnyk, whose career AHL/NHL save percentage chart looks like this (AHL save percentages translated into NHL numbers using Stephan Cooper’s math), with everything after the black line representing his work with Chabot:
It looks to me like Dubnyk’s career took off right around the time Edmonton brought Chabot in. Clearly, the goalie doesn’t feel that’s coincidence.
What To Make of it All
I don’t know whether Chabot’s an average NHL goalie coach, better than that or worse than that. The goalies under his watch don’t show anything conclusively – maybe a better coach could have made Bunz into a standout professional goaltender or have Roy as an AHL starter by now, but maybe those players were going to be what they’ve been. Roy’s development one way or the other in Calgary could be informative in that regard, as will the path taken by Laurent Brossoit, who came the other way.
Dubnyk clearly has no doubts, and the goalies I talked to in Oklahoma seemed to respect Chabot, with Ilya Bryzgalov being particularly effusive.
It would be nice to have a definitive answer – or even a pretty firm indication – on Chabot’s value as a goalie coach but from the outside I don’t think that’s possible at this point.
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