I’ve got to admit I smiled when Devan Dubnyk was voted the 2015 recipient of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, annually awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, as a member of the Minnesota Wild.
Anybody who survives tending goal for 171 games over parts of five seasons behind the atrocious blue line group the Edmonton Oilers put on the ice during Dubnyk’s tenure, 2009-10 to 2013-14, is likely as deserving a winner as you’re going to find. I always thought it was too bad – for the Oilers, not necessarily for Dubnyk – he had to leave Edmonton to get it.
Goalie — shoots R
Born May 4 1986 — Regina, SASK
Height 6.06 — Weight 210 [198 cm/95 kg]
Drafted by Edmonton Oilers
BY THE NUMBERS
Dubnyk, selected 14th overall by Edmonton in the 2004 Entry Draft, spent the better part of a decade building toward establishing himself as the go-to guy in the goal crease for the Oilers. He did so behind a blue line group that never was very deep or very good. Of course, the same could be said of the entire roster during his time here.
After overcoming clutter in the crease along the way that included Jeff Deslauriers and Nikolai Khabibulin, Dubnyk won the starting job for 2012-13 and put up the best numbers of his career. He won 14 games – the Oilers won just 19 times that season under Ralph Krueger — and had a .920 save percentage. It seemed, despite a penchant for giving up soft goals, Dubnyk had finally arrived and that he’d be the answer between the pipes.
It wasn’t to be. Things went sideways in a hurry for Dubnyk in 2013-14 under new coach Dallas Eakins. In a season that would eventually see the Oilers spin six different stoppers through the crease, Dubnyk struggled mightily. The blue line wasn’t good enough. He wasn’t good enough. By the time the Oilers dealt Dubnyk to Nashville for Matt Hendricks, Dubnyk’s confidence and save percentage (.894) had taken a beating.
Dubnyk’s struggles followed him to Nashville. He played in just two games for the Predators – he allowed nine goals on 60 shots — before being shipped to Milwaukee of the AHL with coach Barry Trotz’s comments about “bad habits” still ringing in his ears. Days later, Dubnyk was traded to Montreal and assigned to Hamilton of the AHL. In less than half a season, Dubnyk had played himself right out of the NHL.
Dubnyk’s rise from the ashes began when he signed a one-year deal as a UFA with Arizona for 2014-15. Dealt to Minnesota early that season, Dubnyk’s career turned on a dime again. He made 38 straight starts and backstopped the Wild to the playoffs. All told, Dubnyk was 27–9–2 with a 1.78 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage with five shutouts with the Wild that season. It earned him the Masterton, not to mention a six-year contract worth $26 million.
That’s a turnaround that could’ve and maybe should’ve happened here, but with as much failure as the Oilers have endured, letting Dubnyk get away isn’t the worst mistake that’s been made. Dubnyk paid his dues and played very well as a member of the Oilers for long stretches, but it’s that miserable final half-season that chased him out of town.
This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.
- 71. Georges Laraque
- 72. Tom Gilbert
- 73. Steve Staios
- 74. Stan Weir
- 75. Mark Napier
- 76. Andrei Kovalenko
- 77. Brett Callighen
- 78. Jimmy Carson
- 79. Raffi Torres
- 80. Mike York
- 81. Andrew Cogliano