Talbot, Dubnyk, & Bryzgalov Thrived With the Wild After Leaving the Oilers

If the recent showing between the Minnesota Wild and the Edmonton Oilers is any indication, the Oilers let a good goalie go. It’s always easier in hindsight, but it’s hard to let a goalie go who recently set the franchise win record. It has been a struggle for the organization to find consistent goaltending since the mid-2000s, and their search is still on.

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The Wild, on the other hand, haven’t had much trouble getting solid goaltending since their franchise was established. In recent years, giving former Oiler goalies a chance has turned out very well for them and has come back to haunt the Oilers. Their last game against one another is a perfect example. Edmonton widely outshot Minnesota, but Cam Talbot made 38 saves to hold the Oilers to just one goal in a game they probably should have won. That’s how the game goes sometimes, but that doesn’t happen without stellar goaltending.

The 10-year playoff drought the Oilers endured wasn’t too kind to them. A better team in front of the goalies might have changed the outcome of their careers and this article wouldn’t have even been written. But when a team has struggled for so long, many changes are made in an attempt to stop the bleeding once and for all. Talbot, Devan Dubnyk, and Ilya Bryzgalov were collateral in an era Oilers fans want to forget.

Cam Talbot

Talbot had one of the best single-season performances by a goaltender in Oilers history, and his best season during his nine-year career. It looked like the Oilers finally had their answer in net once Talbot dominated the crease in his first two seasons with the team. Even with a losing record in 2015-16, he very much held his own and gave the Oilers a chance to win games.

Talbot holds the single-season franchise record with 42 wins, while he also recorded seven shutouts the same season. It’s very rare for a goaltender to start as many games as he did in 2016-17 in this era, but 73 games and 13 in the playoffs might have worn him down. The next two seasons is where the trouble started. He posted a below-average save percentage (SV%) and higher than a 3.00 goals-against average (GAA) in the next season and a half before being traded to, what it appeared like, salvage whatever the team could get in return for a struggling goalie.

Cam Talbot Minnesota Wild
Cam Talbot, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

After a season in Calgary trying to get his career back on track, he has since landed in Minnesota and found a home. He is playing some of the best hockey of his career as a member of the Wild, and is 33-13-5 since signing a three-year, $3.667 million AAV average annual value (AAV) contract. By the way Talbot has performed in Minnesota, it’s no stretch to see him sign another contract to stay with the Wild a few more years after his current deal is done. At the very least he could split time with Kaapo Kahkonen while he takes over the reins as the starter.

Devan Dubnyk

Dubnyk’s time with the Oilers came during the dark days in Edmonton, right in the middle of the 10-year playoff drought when they were accruing first-overall draft picks. He spent five seasons in the Oilers’ crease, and failed to put up a winning season in any of them. His stats weren’t horrible in his second, third, or fourth season, but a goalie is widely judged by many off of his record and how many wins he gave the team.

Related: Oilers’ Trade Targets on the New York Islanders

Once Dubnyk found his way to Minnesota after short stints in Nashville and Arizona, he made a great first impression and made the Wild more relevant when looking at the playoff picture for a number of years. He started the 2014-15 season in Arizona, but finished in Minnesota, playing his way into the Vezina and Hart Trophy conversations immediately. That season saw him finish fourth in the Hart Trophy ranking and be a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, as well as winning the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

He had a solid follow-up season, but it was in 2016-17 when Dubnyk won 40 games for the Wild and once again was in the conversation for the Vezina Trophy, finishing fifth. He also got some love for the Hart, receiving some votes and placing 15th.

Dubnyk played six seasons in Minnesota, and won at least 30 games in four of them, while in his first season he would’ve reached 30 wins with the club if he had been with them for more of the season. We saw him get the opportunity in Minnesota, playing 60 or more games per season as opposed to just under half of the games in Edmonton. The former Oilers’ 14th-overall draft pick ended up proving why he was picked so high, and the Wild were the ones to take advantage of that, not the Oilers.

Dubnyk will be remembered for his time in Minnesota as a great goaltender.

Ilya Bryzgalov

The shortest tenure on the Oilers of this group, Bryzgalov only spent part of a season with the team after his fall from grace. His career really took off and he made a name for himself when he joined the Phoenix Coyotes in 2007-08. He recorded at least 26 wins and five shutouts in each of the four seasons spent with the team.

The Coyotes have been known for being able to produce and help goaltenders play to the best of their abilities. The system the team played also helped protect goaltenders from having inflated numbers. Bryzgalov is a perfect example of this.

Things started to go south after one season in Philadelphia and he then signed with the Oilers in 2013-14, because why not try and take a chance on a goalie who has done very well not too long ago. His time in Edmonton was short-lived and didn’t help his cause for returning to form. The Wild took advantage and took Bryzgalov on for the rest of the 2013-14 season. He finished off the season by increasing his SV%, reducing his GAA from over 3.00 to 2.12, and recorded three shutouts in just 11 starts with the Wild.

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A contributing factor could also be that the Wild have been there to pick up the scraps and take a chance on goaltenders with a better defensive system in place for them to succeed. Sometimes a goalie just needs some confidence, and if the team in front of him can’t score when the goalie plays a great game, there becomes a disconnect and frustration.

The problem has come when the Oilers haven’t been patient enough with goaltenders, and the Wild know exactly what they’re doing when taking a chance on cheap goalies with potential.

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