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Principe's Blog: Opportunity Knocking on Devan's Door

Monday, 26.09.2011 / 1:33 PM / Blogs
By Gene Principe
Oilers netminder Devan Dubnyk (photo by Getty Images)
I was joking with Devan Dubnyk on Sunday morning about his parents coming to Calgary from Lethbridge for Sunday's night's pre-season game against Edmonton. He said they wouldn't be making the drive from Lethbridge. He compared it to when he played for Kamloops of the WHL. His parents came to training camp when he was a rookie but later on in his stay with the Blazers no more coming to camp as they would make it out for games. Same things now goes for the Oilers..why travel to see a pre-season game? They're saving up for the regular season. The Dubnyk's think Devan will really get a chance to play this season. The Oilers agree and so do I.

To me this is Devan Dubnyk's year. The year that he will prove that he can be a #1 netminder in the NHL and do so with the Oilers. The year he will get the most games of his still developing career and it won't be because of injury. He'll get them because he earned them. When Dubnyk was drafted 14th overall in 2004. Even though he was the top selection is seemed like he was the 'other guy' the Oilers took in the first round. Everyone was enamored with Robbie Schremp the 25th overall pick. He was the one who would be a difference maker and pump some points and creativity into the team. Well Schremp showed signs of that all world skill but now he's playing in another part of the world. He is in Sweden while Dubnyk is still with Edmonron and he's developing into the real thing.

In my mind Dubnyk has what it takes to be a really good netminder. He has the physical tools when it comes to size. He has the willingness to learn. He has shown the patience to stay on course through his start in the ECHL to the AHL and now the NHL. His demeanor of being calm and cool even under fire serves him well in a position that is as pressure filled as being a starting quarterback. The 25 year old picks his own battle points of what he needs to simply let go of instead deciding what are the nuances and features of his game that have to be worked on and cannot be simply dismissed in his goal of being better.

I don't doubt that Nikolai Khabibulin is going to bounce back this season. I know you might say he can't be any worse. He's a proud guy that has been contrite and aplogetic about his wrong doings off the ice and his inability to succeed on it. Yet Dubnyk strikes me as the wave of the immediate future. This is a team that one day will score goals by the bushels. All they need is a netminder to back them up. To me Dubnyk is that guy. I don't know if he'll start opening night but if he doesn't it won't be because Dubnyk can't get the job done. Tom Renney has a big decision to make for October 9th. He says he's leaning towards one of his netminders for that game against Pittsburgh but wouldn't say which one. Who would be your choice?

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