DETROIT -- There's a 50% chance the Oilers are going to lose a pretty good netminder when either Devan Dubnyk or Jeff Deslauriers has to clear waivers next year.
Both guys have turned their games up a notch or two over the last few weeks, turning experience and confidence into results and optimism for the future.
One of their futures, anyway, because the other one probably won’t be an Oiler very much longer.
Nikolai Khabibulin isn’t going anywhere, so when he comes back next year, unless Edmonton decides to go with a three-man rotation, Dubnyk or Deslauriers will be gone long before he makes it to Oklahoma City.
“It’s a tough situation -- we’ve known that it’s going to come for a while,” said Dubnyk, who’s won two of his last three starts and was Edmonton’s best player in a 2-1 loss to St. Louis on Sunday, stopping 29 of 31 shots.
“You try hard not to think about it now, it’ll be something you sit and soak in in the summer as you wait and see what transpires.”
It was a pretty easy call not that long ago, with Dubnyk piling up 10 straight losses, but now that he’s got the monkey off his back he’s looked very solid. He beat Detroit and San Jose and has allowed just five goals on his last 92 shots. Needless to say he’s in a much better place than he was four games ago.
“Way better,” he said. “That first win helps a lot. Then you get a couple in a row, just knowing it can be done, that I’m capable of doing it, let’s you go out there and play and not think about the outcome as much.”
That’s what these stretch drive games are all about, putting him into the mindset that whatever next year brings, he’ll know that he can do this.
“I feel like I can go out there and give the guys a chance to win every game. It took a while, some of the games were spread out and it was a little longer learning process over the year than I would have liked, but that’s always been something I try to do — always be learning it was small things from each game.
“I got better, but there was always one, two three little things from each game that were allowing that third and fourth goal to get by. I definitely feel like I can do the job.
“It’s exciting for me to play against some pretty good hockey teams and feel as comfortable as I have and play well. I think the most important thing is to make sure I do that right through the end of the year.”