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2015-16 Pensburgh Recap: Brian Dumoulin

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The young d-man started the season as a third pairing option and ended it on the first pairing and as a Stanley Cup champion.

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Age and Contract Status

Age: 24 (DOB: September 6, 1991)

RFA, 1 year remaining on a 2-year contract with a $800k AAV.

Preseason Expectations

It's easy to forget that a year ago, Dumoulin was still an AHL regular. He had played 14 NHL games during 2013-14 and 2014-15, but then he got a chance in the 2015 playoffs due to injuries to Letang, Maatta, Ehrhoff, and Pouliot. In a short and painful playoff series against the Rangers, his surprisingly solid play was one of the few highlights. He re-signed for two years during that offseason.

Going into this season, due to needing to clear waivers for the first time, Dumoulin was expected to be in the NHL. But his actual role was unclear. Here is what Rutherford said in July 2015:

What do you expect of Dumoulin next season?
"He should be in our top-six [defensemen]. I really think he benefited from staying in [Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League] last year instead of coming up at different times. His development has basically run its course to the point where he's ready to become a regular NHL player."

In the 2014-2015 season, in the few NHL games he played his minutes had hovered around 12 to 16 minutes for the most part. So while it seemed likely he would get regular ice time during the 2015-2016 season, it was easy to expect him to do it in a 3rd pairing role.

2015-16 Stats

Regular season: 79 games played, 0 goals, 16 assists, 16 points, 14 penalty minutes

Playoffs: 24gp, 2g + 6a, 8p, 2 PIMs

Verdict

In October, Dumoulin played on average around 15 minutes per game. In November it was 17 minutes. In December 21 minutes. During the playoffs, he played mostly between 22 and 25 minutes. He started the season on the 3rd pair with Rob Scuderi. He ended the season playing on the top pair with Letang.

The Penguins have lost a lot of good defensemen over the last few years. Dumoulin stepped neatly into one of the spots that opened up, and was arguably the Penguins d-man with the most consistent performance throughout the season. With all the roster turnover, his steady and reliable play helped stabilize the Penguins defense.

Even going into the playoffs, for most, the Penguins blueline was filled with question marks and wasn't considered a strength. And Dumoulin was one of those questions marks, since a lot of people just didn't know what he was capable of. Meanwhile a lot of Penguins fans already have become fans of his play. In the end, he played only Letang played more minutes than him on the way to the Penguins winning the Cup.

Future

It is now hard to imagine the Penguins lineup without Dumoulin in it. He will start the 2016-2017 season very differently than he entered the 2015-2016 season. It's now expected of him to play in the top four, and maybe even on the first pairing together with Letang.

After years of constant turnover and change, the upcoming season seems to have fewer questions going into it. After this season, Dumoulin will need a new contract, and the hope is that he can be part of the Penguins defense for many years after it.

Dumoulin's HERO Chart

(From Own The Puck)

2015-16 Game-by-Game Analysis

(From HockeyViz, explained here)

GIFs of the Year

In Game 6 against the Sharks, Dumoulin drew a penalty in the first period, then opened the scoring with his first powerplay goal of his career, and only his 3rd NHL goal.

Earlier during the playoffs, Dumoulin had scored his first goal in over 100 games.

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Feel free to vote in the poll below to rate Brian Dumoulin's season. Vote based on your expectations coming into the season, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest.