Yann Danis, Oklahoma City Barons number one goaltender last year, was an amalgam. A dash of veteran chutzpah, a pinch of NHL play, and a smattering of international play, fans were equally as prepared for a disaster as they were for personal best play. That debate quickly became history. Yann was, at the halfway point of the AHL season, the best tender in the league. By the time his 14 game run in the postseason was over, there was little debate that he was the best pipe sitter for the full season sked. He was simply magical. Magical enough that he made the Barons look good, even when they didn’t really deserve the accolades.
In the offseason, he signs a pretty nice contract extension with the Oilers (nice in terms of his age, and placement in the organization) to the tune of $275,000/$800,000, and immediately Barons fans rejoiced. The YannD was back.
But does history prove that he’s ready for a dip in his play? Can we expect him to have career highlighting numbers with the NHLers in and around various clubs throughout the American League? Perhaps history repeats itself.
Danis has played in three really good pro leagues throughout his career – the KHL, the AHL, the NHL. Only twice has played in back-to-back seasons where he played 30+ games in pro leagues other than the NHL (which is likely in a different league of it’s own for purposes of this post). Meaning, he played 30+ games in 05-06 then played 30+ games in 06-07 in the same or an equivilant hockey league. And once he’s done the “quad” of seasons where he played 30+ games (with the Hamilton Bulldogs from 05-08; four seasons).
Here are those seasons to compare:
2004-2005 Hamilton Bulldogs GP(53) GA(120) GAA(2.34) SV%(.924)
2005-2006 Hamilton Bulldogs GP(39) GA(111) GAA(2.97) SV%(.902)
2006-2007 Hamilton Bulldogs GP(44) GA(119) GAA(2.81) SV%(.905)
2007-2008 Hamilton Bulldogs GP(38) GA(113) GAA(3.28) SV%(.893)
2010-2011 Khabarovsk Amur GP(31) GA(84) GAA(3.05) SV%(.910)
2011-2012 OKC Barons GP(43) GA(88) GAA(2.07) SV%(.924)
Is there anything worth pointing out here? Maybe. In the first stretch of play, the number that bothers me the most is the goal allowed average. It seemingly progressed the wrong direction. Where it started at 2.24 and ended at 3.28 with two seasons in between. Not good. And that’s a pretty good sized pool of comparison for a 20-something goaltender. Four seasons, same league, same team. Slightly nitpicking, and it proves virtually nothing to some extent. Let’s move on.
Notice that his .924 save percentage totals were both in freshman years with those teams. 04-05 was his first full season pro, and 11-12 was his first year in Oklahoma City. So his numbers are typically better in his debuts with clubs. Hmmm.
Comparing the KHL to the AHL might be a stretch, but it’s quite amazing to see that in both leagues, in back-to-back seasons, he was able to let in fewer than 100 goals. That’s a nice figure.
So what does this have to do with the 2012-13 Barons? Not much. Other than it would be hard to realistically believe that Yann Danis puts up .924, allows fewer than 88 goals, and pushes the 2.07 goal average. Why? Because he’s never done it before professionally. Meaning that back-t0-back seasons aren’t consistent, but such is the life of a professional hockey goaltender. It’s also possible that he doesn’t start 43 games. Olivier Roy is ready for the American League, and perhaps so is Tyler Bunz. The third on that list hits Stockton, but gets enough PT in Oklahoma City to nudge Danis below 40 games. I could be wrong, and it’s not fair to compare Danis’ seasons to such a small pool of data. But in the simpleton mind of mine, a goaltending “great” year usually doesn’t happen consecutively. I hope I’m wrong.