Saturday, November 22, 2014

Devan Dubnyk Autograph Card

I had written Devan Dubnyk last March, sending him 4 cards (including two customs), and haven't heard back yet, but I still wanted to write about him and his terrific start to the 2014-15 season with the Arizona Coyotes, what with a 4-0-1 record in six games, a 2.25 GAA and .925 save percentage, slowly but surely stealing starts away from Mike Smith. He even dominated his former Edmonton Oilers this week, in a 33-save, 2-1 win.

People who don't know much past the obvious about goaltending will point to his ''lack of consistency'' as the main knock against him, but that isn't accurate at all. Before last season, his save percentages in Edmonton (apart from his rookie season) were .916 (in 35 games), .914 (47 games) and .920 (38 games). These statistics point to him being among the elite of backups, or a starter who needs a game off per 7-10 days to remain effective, capping him at perhaps 55 games per year (the way 85% of goalies should play anyway).

But it's not really inconsistent, is it, to hover between stopping 91.4% and 92% of pucks headed your way. That's actually pretty consistent, and borderline excellent. The thing with Dubnyk, in my opinion, is he has relied on his size (6'5'' or 6'6'' depending on the source, 210 pounds) and rebound control to excel in lower levels, and his actual technique doesn't rank among the 30 best in the world, and neither does his glove hand, nor his stick control.

So when a goal that he wouldn't have let in at lower levels does get past him in the NHL, he might get discouraged and let it affect him for the next few minutes, until he can redeem himself with a big save; looking for the big save, however, usually leads to losing focus and forcing the play... and ultimately to another bad goal. And that's where the public perception of ''but he played GREAT the last two games'' comes in, and the critics pounce, particularly in Canadian markets where the press is aggressive. And a bad game or two at the NHL level, where everyone has dominated at some level before, for a goalie, can mean a week or two of riding the pine instead of standing between metal posts.

Keep in mind we're talking about a guy with Spengler Cup gold and World Juniors gold, and a perfect 6-0 record for Team Canada at the World Championships where, playing against some of the best in the world, he holds a 1.27 GAA and .935 save percentage.

In a salary cap world, what would you say if I gave you this choice of two Olympian goalies:
GOALIE AA: $6.5M per year, 2.49 GAA, .917% for 65+ games
      + token goalie at $1M, 2.35 GAA, .910% for 25 games
GOALIE A1: $4M per year, 2.50 GAA, .917% for 55 games
   + Dubnyk, $800K per year, 2.35 GAA, .917% for 35 games
Personally, I'd go with the cheaper tandem who stop a consistent amount of pucks, and take the nearly $3M I'd save and put it on an elite defender or improve my second-line from a 15-goal to a 30-goal scorer. Particularly since the goalie I have in mind is a proven playoff performer.

I didn't believe Dubnyk would make his way onto the Montréal Canadiens' roster when they acquired him last season, and I think Arizona might actually be a perfect fit for him.

I hereby check him off my list as #40 in my Oilers Numbers Project, with this card from Panini's 2013-14 Crown Royale set, #SO-DDU of the Sovereign Sigs sub-set, showing a nice close-up of his mask:
It's signed on-sticker, in thin blue sharpie, with his uniform number (40) below it.

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