Pittsburgh Penguins: Through Injury Shortened Season, Brian Dumoulin Was Play Driving Machine
|Photo Credit: Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images|
Continuing our player recap/season outlook for the Pittsburgh Penguins, the attention now shifts to the blue line, beginning with Brian Dumoulin.
Jordan Staal will always be a fan favorite for his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The three-headed monster of Staal, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin helped push the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup Final appearance - with a win in 2009.
Eventually, the Penguins were forced to trade Staal, who was looking for not only a bigger role, but a chance to play with his brother, Eric. Ray Shero obligated at the 2012 draft, moving Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes for a first round pick (Derrick Pouliot), Brandon Sutter and defenseman Brian Dumoulin.
While Pouliot and Sutter are no longer with the organization, Dumoulin has become a mainstay for the Penguins, one of best defensive-defensemen in the league, perfectly fitting in with the offensive-minded Kris Letang.
After posting a career high in both assists (20) and points (23) two years ago, Dumoulin suffered an ankle injury in December of this past season, forcing him to undergo surgery and only allowing him to play in 28 games.
In those contest, Dumoulin managed just a lone goal, to go along with seven assists for eight points total.
Dumoulin: 2019-2020 By The Numbers
The former Boston College Eagle, Dumoulin, will never be known as an offensive force, and that certainly shows in his individual metrics.
Dumoulin didn’t score on 5v5 in any of the 28 games he played last season, bottoming out his goal rate and shooting percentage. His expected goal rate (ixG/60) was in the 50th percentile, so he was getting opportunities on par with the rest of the league, he just didn’t finish.
Despite not being an offensive minded defender, Dumoulin is was among the best in the league when it came to driving play. No defenseman had a higher goals for rate (GF/60) than Dumoulin, meaning the Penguins were scoring more often when he was on the ice than anyone else in the league.
What was actually scored on him was a tad higher than what we were use to for him, but his expected rate still remained elite so that’s encouraging going forward.
While some would think that the offensive numbers came from playing with Letang, which would be a fair assessment, looking at Dumoulin’s numbers while paired together, and then separate are surprising.
While it isn’t much of a surprise that Dumoulin’s possession numbers are better with Letang, the difference in the rest of the categories is certainly eye popping.
Dumoulin controls each of these major metrics with a pretty firm grip when he isn’t on the ice with Letang. This isn’t to say that they should be split apart, but it does show that Letang is the only driving force of the pairing.
Fully healthy, Dumoulin will slide in on the top pairing with Letang when the season finally starts. Dumoulin was also the Penguins’ go-to penalty killer, averaging over two minutes while shorthanded.
Dumoulin will be entering his eighth season in the NHL, and it will be his last season in his 20s. With three years left at $4.1 million per season, when healthy, Dumoulin has proven a bargain at his current price tag.
Two years ago he posted a career high in assists, and through 28 games last season he was scoring at a similar rate. If he stays healthy for the entire season, there isn’t a reason to believe, given the talent around him, he can’t push the 20 assists mark once again.