SAIL ON, KAMLOOPS BLAZER

 

He arrived as a teenage giant, all arms and legs and neurons firing. Devan Dubnyk was a most unusual item: an Oiler goaltender selected in the first round of the NHL Entry draft. Only Grant Fuhr (8th overall, 1981) was taken higher among Oiler draft picks who played goal, with Dubnyk’s 2004 selection (14th overall) surprising the fanbase and kickstarting one of the longest prospect watches in the organization’s history. 

When he arrived, Oiler fans looked about for a scouting report and didn’t find much. It’s an overlooked truth about our collective fandom: very few of us know one damn thing about goalies beyond they piss us off when they don’t stop the puck.

  • Guy Flaming: Above all, Dubnyk possesses the one great talent no coach can teach: size. At 6’5, Dubnyk gives very little of the net up to opposition shooters, and often looks like NHL goaltenders Olaf Kolzig and Sean Burke between the pipes with his hulking size. Very strong positioning and great rebound control are two other strong characteristics of Dubnyk’s play in the net.Consistency is an issue and Dubnyk, despite taking up as much of the net as he does, still has a tendency to let in a soft goal and can get visually shaken by it. Mental maturity will help overcome that flaw.

Credit to Flaming, his words ring true today, as consistency is one of the major reasons that will be quoted for the transaction. Dubnyk started the season at the beginning of October as the starting goaltending, and 10 days later he was dead in the water as an Oiler

By Sunday mornng, October 13th in Toronto, Dubnyk’s fate was sealed. A season that had been framed as a "show me" by the General Manager had turned to dust before anyone could cash a paycheck. 

SMALL SAMPLE SIZES

If there was a sense of forgiveness for the dreadful start within the organization, that goodwill was put to rest by the next several months and Dubnyk’s performance:

By Christmas time, the grumbling had turned to something else again and the ugly in Edmonton just kept on rolling for Devan Dubnyk. I think this day is good for Dubnyk, and for the Oilers, as there was no way they could have continued their relationship into next season. 

I fully believe Dubnyk is as good a goalie as Ben Scrivens, the man acquired in the three-way trade today between Edmonton, Los Angeles and Nashville. I don’t for a moment believe Dubnyk’s redemption could have taken place in Edmonton and with these Oilers. 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

As we get older, experience tells us that sometimes things don’t work out, even when we want them to in life. From all we know—his teammates, his coaches, his ridiculous commercials, his story—Devan Dubnyk is a good man and deserved better from the Hockey Gods this season. A new coach, a new baby, new equipment restrictions and the same chaos outside his crease brought today more swiftly than I could have imagined, but we are here. 

I’m not one for long goodbyes, but wish the big man well. I’ve cheered like hell for him, and believed in him, and sincerely hope he can gain control again in his new city. Nashville is a magical town for goaltenders, and there’s a lot of useful clay on the way to the Predators in the person of Devan Dubnyk. 

Best of luck big man. We won’t forget you.