Player: Brian Dumoulin
Born: September 6, 1991 (27 years old)
Weight: 207 pounds
Birthplace: Biddeford, Maine
Draft: 2009 CAR, 2nd round (51st overall)
Contract status: 2018-19 was season two of a six year deal. Dumoulin is under contract through 2022-23 at a salary cap hit of $4.1 million dollars per season.
The past: In 2017-18 Dumoulin earned an “A” grade from 75% of Pensburgh readers, and 98% (aka everyone but the trolls and random team fans) gave him a “B+” or better, leaving him to be one of the few things that fans on the internet can agree on. This guy’s good!
Regular Season History
Dumoulin completed his fourth full season in the NHL in 2018-19, his age-27 year, and it was a banner year individually in many ways. He set single-season career-highs in assists (20), points (23), plus/minus (+31), hits (141), takeaways (39) and giveaways (51). His ice-time has also increased each and every season, up this year to 21:02 per game (ranking second highest among Pittsburgh defensemen).
This should be and definitely is the prime of this player’s career as he is able to skate first-pair minutes, and as we will see below, be able to help facilitate many positive things while on the ice. Dumoulin has the a difficult role and unenviable role to be the defensive conscience of a team that wants to “run ‘n gun” and doesn’t think much about playing defense and manages to perform admirably.
Dumoulin continues to be among the finer players on the team among analytic outlooks. He again carried an impressive Corsi metric, and his relative Corsi was a career-high (which is to be expected as the team continues to add not very good possession players).
Dumo was on ice for at 5v5 for 3.34 Goals For/60 to 2.29 Goals Against/60, and while both numbers are among the highest of his peers, it’s obviously a positive player to be on the ice for considerably more good than bad.
There aren’t too many definitions of defensive defenseman who are actually, objectively good an positive contributing players, but Dumoulin certainly is one of them. He’s big, rangy, skates well, is able to handle the puck and can facilitate breakouts to his forwards to stay out of his end. He’s not flashy but still very effective at helping his team.
Again, just solid consistency is the name of Dumoulin’s game. He scored five points a month every month except for a November slump and then in March coming back from a concussion. Otherwise, you can set your watch to his output and steadiness of playing 20-21 minutes a night and taking care of business.
As a very important piece of the team and as a two-time Stanley Cup champion, Dumoulin typically saves his best hockey for the biggest time of the year. That wasn’t really the case for these playoffs as he missed the last three games of the regular season and then was a true “game time decision” for Game 1 of the playoffs. Dumoulin would play, and while he wasn’t poor, he wasn’t sharp either.
Turns out there was good reason for that since it was revealed after the Penguins were eliminated that the defenseman was using a knee brace to play on a torn PCL in his knee. Considering he still played his normal 21-minute a night workload in the brief four-game playoff, one has to be impressed and commend Dumoulin for gutting through, even if they didn’t have very far to go.
Interestingly enough, despite setting career highs in assists and points Dumoulin’s PRIMARY points per hour fell from last year. Of his 16 5v5 assists in 2018-19, only three were of the primary variety, with 13 secondary helpers. This makes a lot of sense with how he plays, being as Dumoulin is an outlet to begin the breakout, and not a player advancing deep into the offensive zone to actually generate a lot of chances.
Obviously Kris Letang in red was a common partner and the most important aspect of Dumoulin’s season. The two have formed a wonderful partnership, controlling 54.5% of the Corsi this year in their 911 minutes together, to go along with 56 Goals For to just 32 Goals Against together. They accomplished all this while often matching up against the opposition’s top line to make it more impressive.
Letang away from Dumo fell to a 51% Corsi player, whereas Dumoulin dropped even more to just a 46% CF player, as his most common assignments included Zach Trotman (46.8%) and Jack Johnson (40.1%) and suffered accordingly.
Dumoulin did allow his share of unblocked shots while on the ice. Given his high TOI usage and strong quality of competition, this probably isn’t too bad. After all, he stayed afloat under the toughest of minutes and also was on ice for 72 Goals for to 51 Goals against The Pens’ top line is going to allow a lot of goals because they’re willing to push the pace and score a lot goals too. This “high event hockey” is reflected with Dumoulin here.
And here you see more evidence of the wide-open style of play Pittsburgh has. The Pens absolutely pounded the opposition’s net while Dumoulin was on the ice. A lot of this is no doubt credit to Dumoulin’s heavy usage with the first line offense (namely Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel). But Crosby and Guentzel can’t rack up the shots if they’re stuck in their own zone, and Dumoulin did his part moving the puck to ensure that the Pens stayed out of their own end enough (Crosby’s CF% with Dumo was 56.0%, dropped to 52.3% without Dumoulin).
This play was a critical moment in the Pens’ season as Dumoulin would be concussed by Wayne Simmonds in the outdoor game on February 24th and be out until March 5th. Letang would also get hurt in the ensuing scrum that just about ended his regular season. These injuries, and the way they occurred, helped influence general manager Jim Rutherford into trading for Erik Gudbranson to offer a physical edge and extra big body on the blueline.
The Capitals’ channel didn’t like it but here’s a defensive highlight of Dumoulin playing hard and heavy on T.J. Oshie while the Pens’ were on the PK.
Letang on the growth of Dumoulin: "He's been great. I think the last 3-4 years, he's been bringing his game to a different level... You just see as he is growing as a player, his confidence is increasing also."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 19, 2018
Coach Sullivan's media availability: https://t.co/Pja03Pb43V pic.twitter.com/rZkgvXNPzC
Letang talking about his buddy’s growth in the past few years.
Is there even a lot to discuss here? How would you utilize Dumoulin next season, should he stay with Kris Letang? Or attempt to spread the wealth and stabilize Justin Schultz? Given he’s playing a lot with Sid and Jake would you like to see more points from the defenseman or is what he’s doing enough?
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