During the thirty days of September, I'll be trying to preview the seasons of thirty players currently under contract with the Washington Capitals and who have a good chance of spending some time in red, white, and blue this season. Advanced stats are given from behindthenet.ca ranked against other players at the same position--forward, defense, or goalie--in the same organization, at 5-on-5, unless otherwise noted. Age is on opening night. Teammates are those listed at 10% or greater and at even strength (though the percentage includes all manpower situations). Here is Dany Sabourin)
Dany Sabourin: age 30, 6'4", 200 pounds, catches left.
Contract: two-way, $250k in AHL, $525k in NHL, UFA in 2011, per Capgeek.
2009-2010 raw stats:
AHL: 56 GP, 28-27-0, 2.67 GAA, .915 SV%, 3 SO (Providence Bruins)
I don't think there is much doubt as to why George McPhee signed Dany Sabourin. His two-way contract means the team and he expect for him to play a lot, if not entirely, in the AHL in 2010-2011, likely as Braden Holtby's veteran backup. This role is similar to Jason Bacashihua's role last season in Hershey, as a veteran backup to Michal Neuvirth.
Sabourin looks like he can fill this role pretty well. Via hockey database:
2004-05 Wheeling Nailers ECHL 0.942
2004-05 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pen AHL 0.921
2005-06 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pen AHL 0.922
2005-06 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 0.714*
2006-07 Vancouver Canucks NHL 0.906*
2006-07 Manitoba Moose AHL 0.920*
2007-08 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 0.904
2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 0.898
2008-09 Springfield Falcons AHL 0.904
2009-10 Providence Bruins AHL 0.915
*less than ten games played
It's pretty clear that Sabourin is an AHL-caliber goalie, although he may still get NHL time. The idea, I'm fairly sure, is for Braden Holtby to start for Hershey (last season Holtby, the Bears' backup, was backup in Washington briefly, even though Michal Neuvirth was healthy and better, probably to keep Neuvirth as a starter and not benchwarmer) and for Sabourin to sit on the Capitals' bench if/when either Semyon Varlamov or Neuvirth gets hurt. He may get a couple of games in, then, which isn't exactly a desirable outcome but not a crippling one either. God forbid, if both Varlamov and Neuvirth go down for a long stretch, and Holtby cannot take over the reins, the Capitals will likely sign a free agent goalie (Jose Theodore anyone?) on a cheap one-year contract to play instead of Sabourin. I really cannot see any situation in which Sabourin is trusted to be the starter in the NHL.
I'm expecting maybe one start in the NHL and one other game played (goalie switch) for Sabourin, maybe one overtime or shootout loss, and a handful of goals allowed. In the AHL, with Holtby's durability and ability to be a workhorse, I'm looking for about 15 games played, 9 wins or so, 2.70 GAA, .910 save percentage, and 1 shutout. He can likely get a couple of starts in the playoffs too, if Hershey makes it.
Sabourin's most important job, aside from mentoring Holtby, is to turn that "if" into "when."