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Don’t Expect Dubnyk Back

It came as a shock to everyone this year the extent of and sheer success of goaltender Devan Dubnyk. Having bounced around from team to team, most hockey fans would have expected Dubnyk’s on ice performance to have suffered, this would have been an extreme blow to his confidence. Instead, Dubnyk has taken the moves and changes and flourished into one of the hottest stories of the NHL this season. This must of course mean that the Oilers are looking at their roster and picking up the phone right? Well… not exactly.


The Edmonton Oilers have been holding their season ticket lunches this week, and I was lucky enough to have been brought as a guest. Patrick Laforge sat at my table, Bob Black, vice president of the Katz Group came around to everyone at the table and shook hands, and overall it was an extremely delightful event.

The highlights of the event were the images, discussion and videos for the new arena under construction and of course, questions from the crowd directed at the general manager Craig MacTavish, president and chief operating officer of the Oilers Entertainment Group Patrick Laforge and chief revenue officer Stew MacDonald. Guess who fielded all of the questions.

Between questions of ‘exactly what kind of team are you building?’ and ‘did your years playing without a helmet have an impact on what team you’re building’ and ‘when will we make the playoffs’ came a question asking about past players, one of those players of course being Dubnyk.

MacT didn’t skip a beat talking about Dubnyk’s character, likability and friends on the team. MacT went on to talk about working with Dubnyk from the beginning of his professional career. It wasn’t mentioned that Dubnyk and Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers were players that were impacted the most when the team did not have their own AHL affiliate and neither goaltender had very much playing time, and certainly there was no mention of their development suffering because of it. But, the crowd knew those to be the facts and intently listened to what else might be said.

What else was said was that MacT wishes Dubnyk well, but said that he would be nervous about brining Dubnyk back. This gave the audience pause. After all, the Oilers are still looking to improve their goaltending situation. Here was a player the team knew, who lived in Edmonton for years, and yet even given the success Dubnyk is seeing, we were told that Dubnyk is not a player that MacT is looking at. Of course that’s just what he said to the group of season ticket holders,  MacT can’t be seen tampering. But still, this is MacT, I would take what he said to be true, he’s not bringing back Dubnyk.

What also caught my ear was MacT discussing the fact that his team doesn’t check hard enough. No, he didn’t say that he was looking to bring in a Dave Semenko style player, but he said that his team needs to be stronger and I took that to also mean that he needs his team to get bigger.

And then of course, there was the discussion of player development. MacT said the right things indicating that Leon Draisitl and Darnell Nurse will crack the NHL lineup when they are ready, and when they have earned that spot. MacT went on to say that he feels first overall players should be in the NHL instead of junior where they dominated and won't see much development. I may not agree that a first overall player can't develop any more in junior hockey, but so long as the belief is that Nurse and Draistilt are not necessarily starting in the NHL next season, life is good.

Talk is cheap, but MacT was saying the right things. He said he knows the fans are suffering, that these past few years have been more than difficult, but that he is more excited about the on ice product this year than last, even given that they are exactly where there were in the standings last year. While he didn’t make playoff promises, MacT said that there needs to be success in the next couple of years, otherwise he is responsible. Whil;e MacT didn't come right out and say that his job is on the line if success doesn't come, you have to believe that that is finally true for this Oilers organization.

Filed in: Edmonton Oilers, | Oil Patch | Permalink
  Tags: craig+mactavish, devan+dubnyk


TreKronor's avatar

That had to be an interesting event to attend! 

MacT went on to say that he feels first overall players should be in the NHL instead of junior where they dominated and won’t see much development

I don’t follow the Oilers enough to know, but haven’t they been bringing kids straight to the NHL only for them not to develop into the players they were expected to be?

Posted by TreKronor on 03/26/15 at 06:22 PM ET

KelseyAnn's avatar

Even though I am a Wings fan, living in Phoenix I find myself following the Coyotes to an extent as well.

And I was sad when the Coyotes let Dubnyk go too. They have had a revolving door of backups, in addition to Dubnyk they’ve had Greiss, who I thought was decent too. But as per Coyotes standard operating procedures when it comes to their ‘good’ players, they traded Dubnyk, who at times I thought was more consistent than Smith.

With the Coyotes he went 9-5-3 in his starts, with a .916 SV% and 2.12 GAA….good numbers for a backup playing behind a pretty horrid Coyotes team. I wish they’d bring him back too, but I’m happy to see him doing well with a team that seems to want him more.

Posted by KelseyAnn from Ahwatukee, Arizona on 03/26/15 at 06:57 PM ET

Lisa Brown's avatar

TreKronor the Oilers keep putting themselves in a position where they have to play the rookies. They haven’t brought in veterans to training camp, knowing who they drafted, so there is zero competition for position and the kids have to play despite the fact that they are not ready. And then because they are not ready, they play poorly, the team looses and their confidence is affected.

It really sounds like the team is recognizing they can’t just give the prospects positions, that there has to be some competition.

Posted by Lisa Brown on 03/26/15 at 08:18 PM ET

Lisa Brown's avatar

KelseyAnn, there is no saying how Dubnyk’s story would have unfolded if he stayed with the Coyotes though, that’s what’s most interesting about this story.

Posted by Lisa Brown on 03/26/15 at 08:23 PM ET

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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.

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