Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

He Could Have Been An NHLer

The NHL has never been a perfect league in its ability to find all of the best talent in the world to play in it.  Many NHL capable talents never have significant NHL careers.  One prime example of that is Yann Danis.  He currently is a star goalie with the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL.  Danis leads the AHL in saves percentage (.938) and goals against average (1.94).  He has had a few trials as an NHL goalie and although they have gone pretty well they never led to a regular job.  He has succeeded in the minor leagues and in Europe.

Danis is 30 years old and is signed to a one year contract in the Edmonton Oiler organization.  He is playing very well in the AHL and waiting for an NHL shot.  If Nikolai Khabibulin or Devan Dubnyk get injured between now and the end of the season he should get an NHL tryout.  Otherwise he is likely to leave the Oiler organization without playing any NHL games for them.  I am sure he is an NHL capable goalie who with another set of luck would have had a relatively long NHL career.

Danis was first noticed by NHL scouts while playing at Brown University.  He went undrafted at age 18 but by age 23 as a senior he showed some real NHL promise.  He set an ECAC record for the highest saves percentage ever at .942 and for the most career shutouts in a college career (with 13).  That had a few NHL teams interested in signing the free agent.  The Montreal Canadiens were successful in part because Danis grew up in Quebec.

In the Montreal system he went to the AHL and played for Hamilton.  He spent four strong years in Hamilton with an NHL call up giving him six games played in 2005/06.  Montreal let him move on and he signed as a free agent with the New York Islanders.  He spent most of his year with the Isles in the NHL posting a .910 saves percentage and a 2.86 GAA in 31 games.  That didn’t get him a new contract with the Isles so he moved onto the New Jersey Devils.  He was Martin Brodeur’s seldom used backup for a season.  He played just 12 games and posted a .923 saves percentage and a 2.05 GAA.  After failing to find NHL work he went to Europe for a season and played in the KHL with Khabarovsk Amur.  After a solid season there he returned to North America to join the Oilers system in Oklahoma City.

Danis has been a good NHL player.  He has been an AHL All Star.  He was a good goalie in the KHL.  He just hasn’t had the luck to have a significant NHL career.  In another life he could have been an NHL backup for ten years.  Maybe he still has a chance but at age 30 the odds are strongly against him.  Right now he is the star goalie on the first place team in the AHL.

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sounds like the kind of guy i wouldnt mind seeing as a backup for Mr. Howard should things start slipping with JMac…

Posted by walterslgrw from chicago on 02/13/12 at 06:42 PM ET


I have never understood why Danis hasn’t been an NHL goalie, he played very well here in Montréal in his brief cameo, but he was buried behind Huet and Théodore, so that was never going to work out.  But he did well playing for a horrible Islanders’ team and more than capably backed up Brodeur, better than most of his backups, at least. 

He should not be rotting in Europe or the AHL.

Posted by Bill on 02/13/12 at 10:36 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com