How Did Devan Dubnyk Go from Castoff to Vezina Trophy Contender?

December 12th, 2016 by Jonathan Willis Leave a reply »

One-third of the way through the 2016-17 NHL season, Devan Dubnyk is hockey’s best goaltender. His .946 save percentage is the best of any goalie to play more than two games this year, and among starters, it’s well clear of even Carey Price's incredible .940 for the Montreal Canadiens.

That performance, while undeniably impressive, isn’t the most astonishing thing about Dubnyk, though. The most astonishing thing about Dubnyk is that just three years ago, he was an afterthought, gifted from one team to the next like a surplus toaster.

That Dubnyk could go from valued to worthless to Vezina-worthy says a lot about how NHL teams evaluate goalies—and none of what it says is good.

Dubnyk started his pro career with the Edmonton Oilers. He’d been a top prospect in junior, going 14th overall at the 2004 draft. It was a controversial selection at the time, though not because of any deficiency on his part; it’s just that Al Montoya and Marek Schwarz were generally seen as the two potential franchise goalies in the draft (rated as the sixth- and eighth-best prospects by The Hockey New ...

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