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2020-21 Season In Review: Brian Dumoulin

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Today’s Pensburgh Season In Review takes a look at Brian Dumoulin, whose reliable defensive performance has helped solidify the Penguins’ top pairing for the past three seasons.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins
Brian Dumoulin handles the puck against the New York Islanders during the second period in Game 1 of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG Paints Arena.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Vitals

Player: Brian Dumoulin

Born: September 6, 1991 (29 years old)

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 207 pounds

Hometown: Biddeford, Maine

Shoots: Left

Draft: 2009, Carolina Hurricanes, second round (51st overall)

2020-21 Statistics: 41 games played — four goals, 10 assists, 14 points

Contract Status: Dumoulin is signed at $4.1mil/year for two more seasons before becoming an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2022-23 campaign. He is the Penguins’ fourth-biggest defensive cap hit (behind Kris Letang, Mike Matheson and John Marino) but trailed only Letang in average ice time (Dumoulin skated for over 22 minutes per game in 2020-21).

History

2017-18 Pensburgh Season in Review (75% A+/A Grade, 23% A-/B+ Grade)

2018-19 Pensburgh Season in Review (19% A+ Grade, 62% A Grade, 14% B+ Grade)

2019-20 Pensburgh Season in Review (30% A Grade, 59% B Grade, 11% C Grade)

Playoffs

Dumoulin set up goals during the Penguins’ losses to the New York Islanders in Games 1 and 4, while skating almost 26 minutes in every contest. He registered four shots on goal in six outings. When he joined the squad at 5v5, the Penguins were a good team: they controlled the puck the majority of the time Dumoulin was on the ice.

Monthly Splits

via Yahoo!

Story of the Season

Although limited by injury— he skated in 41 contests of the 56-game campaign— Dumoulin remained a reliable presence on the Penguins’ top pairing alongside Kris Letang. Although his primary point production has fallen off, he makes a positive impact on Pittsburgh thanks to his well-executed defense of the danger areas near the net.

Regular season 5v5 advanced stats

Data via Natural Stat Trick. Ranking is out of 8 defensemen on the team who qualified by playing a minimum of 150 minutes.

Corsi For%: 51.4% (4th)

Goals For%: 58.62% (2nd)

xGF: 27.1 (2nd)

Scoring Chance %: 51.71% (2nd)

High Danger Scoring Chance%: 48.95% (2nd)

5v5 on-ice shooting%: 9.19% (4th)

On-ice save%: .937 (1st)

5v5 TOI/GP: 18:34 (2nd)

Goals/60: 0.32 (2nd)

Assists/60: 0.71 (4th)

Points/60: 1.02 (3rd)

Dumoulin continued to be effective at limiting opposing teams’ scoring chances in 2020-21. Goaltenders loved when he was on the ice, recording a team-best .937 save percentage at 5v5 with Dumoulin blocking shots in front. He was attributed with 55 shot blocks, good for third-best on the team, in 41 games of the regular season.

Charts n’at

One of the most underrated stories of this current Penguins squad is a factor that helps them remain an annual playoff contender: Dumoulin’s steady presence on the top defensive pairing.

His offensive impact has decreased sharply over the past three seasons, a drop-off marked by the plummeting blue line in the bottom right corner, but his defense has only improved even against consistently tough competition. He also serves as an integral part of the Penguins’ penalty kill.

As the years passed, Dumoulin may have become less of an offensive force— most of his unblocked shots now come from the point, and half of his points in 2020-21 came on secondary assists— but his defensive coverage has improved.

Look at the blue area in front of the Penguins’ net. When Dumoulin is on the ice, the opposing team’s high-danger scoring chances plummet, enough for the opposition to suffer a whopping -8% expected goals against average at 5v5.

Half of Dumoulin’s 14 points in 2020-21 came on his seven secondary assists. It’s likely we will see a plateau or further decline in primary points next season.

The Penguins shoot more, score more and allow fewer goals against with Dumoulin on the ice.

As has been the case for the past three seasons, Dumoulin spent almost all of his ice time alongside Kris Letang— and the pair spent a large number of their even-strength shifts starting in the offensive zone.

Highlights

Perhaps an underrated aspect of what is arguably the most memorable Penguins goal of 2020-21, the tally by Sidney Crosby moments after a deft stick handoff by equipment manager Jon Taglianetti, is Dumoulin’s role in setting up the play. After all, the reason Crosby had been left empty-handed in the first place was to provide Dumoulin with a stick— and he goes right to the front of the net, grabs a puck and springs Letang on the odd-man rush that would result in Crosby’s highlight-reel goal.

Neither Bryan Rust nor Jake Guentzel were able to get their sticks on this rocket from Dumoulin, but his goal from the point on May 6 shows part of why he dealt mainly in assists in 2020-21: his long shots are ripe for deflections.

Dumoulin’s goal on April 20 is a true example of the reason behind the constant mantra to “get pucks on net”. The defender flipped a casual backhand on goal from center ice— and the puck bounced in past visiting Devils’ goaltender Scott Wedgewood.

Bottom line

Dumoulin turns 30 this fall, and his primary-point production may have fallen off, but he’s a solid and reliable defender that works well on Pittsburgh’s top pairing. The Penguins are already one of the heaviest spenders in the NHL on their defense, so at just over four million per year and with his consistent level of defensive success, Dumoulin should likely be considered an core piece of this team.

Ideal 2021-22

After spending two seasons battling his way back from injuries— Dumoulin has missed 56 games over the last two Penguins campaigns— an ideal 2021-22 sees Dumoulin healthy enough to play through a full season.

Question to ponder

Letang and Dumoulin have clearly clicked on the Penguins’ top pairing— but in the event of an injury to Letang, who would you pair Dumoulin with? Could you ever see him matching up with another blueliner, even on a team with a healthy Letang?

You’ve seen the data— now it’s time to share your thoughts!

Poll

How would you grade Brian Dumoulin’s 2020-21 season?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    A
    (204 votes)
  • 45%
    B
    (176 votes)
  • 0%
    C
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    F
    (2 votes)
386 votes total Vote Now