With the advances in goaltending over the last three decades, it can be difficult to evaluate across eras. But it’s possible, by comparing each player to the league average at the time, to approximate how Devan Dubnyk stands up to Grant Fuhr and Bill Ranford and Tommy Salo and all the rest.
As most readers have likely guessed, this little exercise was prompted by Robin Brownlee making the point on this site last night that Devan Dubnyk is back in front of Dwayne Roloson for the top save percentage in Edmonton Oilers history.
Brownlee was right of course, but what happens if we adjust for era?

The List

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PlayerSeasonsGPSave percentageAdjusted SV%
Andy Moog*
1980-87
235
0.887
0.923
Grant Fuhr*
1981-91
423
0.882
0.916
Dwayne Roloson
2005-09
193
0.909
0.914
Mathieu Garon
2007-09
62
0.909
0.912
Tommy Salo
1998-04
334
0.906
0.911
Bill Ranford
1987-00
449
0.887
0.910
Curtis Joseph
1995-98
177
0.902
0.910
Devan Dubnyk
2009-14
164
0.910
0.910
Ty Conklin
2001-06
60
0.905
0.909
Bob Essensa
1996-99
74
0.904
0.909
Jussi Markkanen
2001-07
102
0.898
0.904
Jeff Deslauriers
2008-10
58
0.901
0.902
Nikolai Khabibulin
2009-13
117
0.903
0.900
With the exception of Ron Low and Eddie Mio – who played in Edmonton before save percentage was recorded by the league – that’s every goalie to play in at least 50 games for the Oilers (goalies with an asterisk played some seasons prior to the league recording save percentage). The “Adjusted SV%” column is based on all of them playing in a 0.912 save percentage league (the current average).

Surprised?

It’s important first to be realistic about these numbers: comparing against the league-average gives us a baseline, but – especially going back to the 1980’s, when shot quality may have varied more widely between teams than it does today – it doesn’t give us bullet-proof numbers.
Some of that might be why Moog’s at the top of the list; anecdotal accounts suggest Fuhr got the toughest opponents once he’d established himself as the top goalie in the rotation. But the bigger problem was that Fuhr’s save percentage dropped dramatically versus the NHL average after Moog was traded to Boston; in the seasons when both played for the team they were neck-and-neck.
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Other points:
  • Dwayne Roloson is a little higher on this list than I had expected, but he was fantastic in most of his time with the Oilers, considerably better than the NHL average.
  • I didn’t take into account playoff performances here; Curtis Joseph was spectacular in the post-season for Edmonton and he was with the team for a short enough time that a mediocre first season drags down his totals.
  • Jussi Markkanen’s early career with Edmonton was quite good, but he played a few years after he was done at the NHL level.
  • I expected Jeff Deslauriers to be at the bottom of this list, but the rise in NHL save percentage over the last five years gives Nikolai Khabibulin the crown.
My personal ranking? I’d give Fuhr the top slot between his playoff work and longer body of work with the Oilers and slide Moog in behind him. After that duo, Roloson has a bit of a gap over Joseph and Ranford, and then there’s another gap before reaching Salo and Dubnyk. Nikolai “Maginot Line” Khabibulin takes the last spot.

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