After a season that saw him almost fall right off the hockey map, former Edmonton Oiler Devan Dubnyk made his return to Rexall Place on Sunday by backstopping the Arizona Coyotes to a 2-1 win over his old team with a 33-save performance.

Dubnyk, who toiled with the Oilers for five seasons and appeared in 117 games after being drafted 14th in 2004, improved his record to 4-0-1 and his save percentage to .925 with Arizona. This, after a 2013-14 season in which he damn near played himself out of the NHL with a .894 save percentage in Edmonton and a hideous .850 mark with Nashville.

Early results in the desert have some pundits praising Coyotes’ goaltending coach Sean Burke for resurrecting Dubnyk’s career (even though Mike Smith is struggling mightily). Dubnyk’s performance against the Oilers had others pointing a finger at goaltending coach Fredric Chabot, who is in his sixth season overseeing Edmonton’s masked men.

Specifically, critics want to know why Edmonton’s goaltending has been so bad during Chabot’s watch. What makes Chabot, an NHL journeyman who played 32 NHL games with Montreal, Los Angeles and Philadelphia (he was 4-8-4 with a 2.95 goals-against average and .894 save percentage) the right man to oversee the crease here?

Has Chabot improved any of the veteran goaltenders he’s handled? Has Chabot developed any crease prospects these past six years? Why does it seem like Edmonton has become a place where goaltenders come to die? How did he survive the purge of coaches that saw Steve Smith and Kelly Buchberger moved along this off-season?

Fair questions, one and all.



Having missed the playoffs for eight straight seasons going on nine, it goes without saying the Oilers have been an absolutely abysmal team during Chabot’s tenure. The defensive corps has too often been overmatched — a mistake-prone collection of marginal veterans, unproven kids pushed into too many minutes and AHL players who shouldn’t be here.

The Oilers give up too many shots. They allow too many quality chances. They make too many mistakes in coverage and cough up the puck far too often. One could argue the blue liners the Oilers have employed and inept team defense in general has been as big a problem as the goaltenders.

Some might argue, even allowing for the porous blue line, the Oilers simply haven’t had enough quality goaltenders since Dwayne Roloson willed the Oilers to the 2006 Stanley Cup final. It could be said Chabot hasn’t had much to work with, although that argument, given eight years of frustration, isn’t one many people are willing to listen to right now.  

Dubnyk, Ben Scrivens, Viktor Fasth, Ilya Bryzgalov and Nikolai Khabibulin have been Edmonton’s main stoppers under Chabot, although Yann Danis, Jason LaBarbera and Richard Bachman have had cups of coffee.

I took a look at the first five, using save percentage as the marker for games with the Oilers, games with other teams and for their overall NHL careers.




Edmonton – 171 games, .910

Nashville – two games, .850

Phoenix – six games, .925

Career — .909


Edmonton – 35 games, .911 (.899 this season)

Los Angeles – 19 games, .931

Toronto – 32 games, .910

Career — .914


Edmonton – 13 games, .902 (.885 this season)

Anaheim – 30 games, .915

Career — .911


Edmonton – 20 games, .908

Minnesota – 12 games, .911

Philadelphia – 99 games, .905

Phoenix – 257 games, .917

Anaheim – 69 games, .909

Career — .913


Edmonton – 117 games, .903

Chicago – 206 games, .902

Phoenix/Winnipeg – 284 games, .908

Tampa Bay – 192 games, .914

Career — .907



The above stats certainly aren’t comprehensive. I haven’t broken the save percentage down into situational numbers – even-strength vs. shorthanded and I haven’t used goals-against average, wins, losses and shutouts.

I haven’t factored in the relative strengths of the teams these goaltenders played on or where each player was at in his particular career in terms of development or, in the case of Khabibulin and Bryzgalov, decline. 

In terms of save percentage, only Dubnyk was better, marginally, with the Oilers than in his overall career. That, of course, has as much to do with him only playing eight games outside Edmonton and one horrid season in 2013-14 as anything. The others — Scrivens, Fasth, Bryzgalov and Khabibulin — have slipped under their career percentage while tending goal here.

Is that the product of a bad goaltending coach or a bad team? Both?

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

  • Joy S. Lee

    How many of our goalies over the past 6-7 years have actually developed into the goalie they were fully capable of becoming? None? Time for a new goalie coach.

    While we’re on the topic, we might also want to consider scouting/management’s stocking of that cupboard. Bleak. Time for… well, I’m not going to say that, I guess. But I will say that this team has some pretty major holes yet to fill – obvious ones at that – while several have been or are being addressed. Either they wait to see what transpires on draft day, or they really do have to trade a star for 2-3 good (must be young) legitimate hole-fillers. The only other choice would be to trade everyone with a questionable long-term future in Edmonton out into the NHL playoff contender stratosphere at the deadline, for picks and prospects. Yeah, you heard me right. The secret is to get the right (undervalued) prospects, and make the right picks at the draft. Other than that, it’s no more a crapshoot than they’ve got going now.

    And for God’s sake, draft a decent goalie prospect! This guy they just drafted late this past year is posting numbers that belong to lacrosse goalies, that’s encouraging on many levels.

    So why would they wait to address these areas of concern, especially if it’s too late to make the playoffs? McDavid, Eichel, or Hanover would be the immediate answer to one of those major needs. Otherwise, they may not have a first pick that can immediately step into the lineup, and I’m not sure they can comprehend that. However, all that being said, they have some movement in the system that supports both the defense and center positions having reserves coming. For their goaltending woes, very little appears on the horizon, and Brossoit is anything if not entirely unproven. I think the second-line center position has become the secondary issue of concern around here. However, Ben Scrivens could just as soon change all of that if he can get himself back together again… and learn how to handle the puck. We got anyone that could teach him that stuff?

  • Anton CP

    Freddy has been bad no doubt. The fact that we haveny seen anything from our prospects is a result and worse he has not aided the big league goalies look at Buffalo they are terrible and thier goalies have respectable to great numbers and the oilers as a team are head and shoulders above them. The thing with save% is that it will balance out over the years to that individuals talent level. Either Freddy has to go or he has not gotten someone that will work or listen to him. If the later is the case they must let him have a voice when it comes to goalie acquisitions or cut him loose because the current trend is not good enough

  • Spydyr

    The flaw in Dubnyk’s game was that he went down to his knees all the time,he said himself that he had to learn to stay on his feet.Now I am noticing both oiler goalie’s are going down on their knees more than last year.I just don’t have any faith in Chabot.The results speak for themselves,

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    Chabot has to go. He should have been fired last year.

    I’m glad this situation is finally getting some notice. I don’t think it’s fair to blame the goaltenders (like Dubnyk, for instance) when all the goalies seem to slip AFTER coming here. You know what would make for a VERY INTERESTING stat, Robin?

    If you worked out their save percentages upon their first arriving here (say the first 10 games) vs all the time afterwards, when our goalie coach has had a chance to effect his game. Especially telling for those traded mid-season. I bet it’s black & white – unfortunately!

    • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

      Is the coach the problem or is it the fact that we have a young D core whom has a ways to go? OR both???? Every time we change coaches we in some ways start all over. On the flip side you have to weed out incompetence. No Win here as we are along for the ride.

    • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

      Is the coach the problem or is it the fact that we have a young D core whom has a ways to go? OR both???? Every time we change coaches we in some ways start all over. On the flip side you have to weed out incompetence. No Win here as we are along for the ride.