Any concerns that 32-year-old Kraken defenseman Brian Dumoulin had irreversibly slowed down during his eight full seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins have gradually been put to rest in Seattle.
Weak analytics and his minus-4 last year, just the second minus season of his NHL career, may have been cause for concern. Multiple knee surgeries didn’t help his mobility, but now it appears experience and strong hockey sense have helped make up for it.
The Penguins as a team struggled last season, failing to make the playoffs for the first time in 16 years. Dumoulin actually played in all 82 games and set a career high with 24 assists.
As for joining the Kraken, one must remember we’re talking about a D-man who’s only played for one NHL organization after being drafted in the 2nd-round, 51st-overall, out of Boston College in 2009.
There’s an adjustment period for even the savviest of veterans.
Secondly, Dumoulin brings pedigree, having proven to be a habitual winner.
As an 18-year-old, first-year player for the Eagles under Hockey Hall of Fame honored head coach Jerry York, Dumoulin helped the team win an NCAA National Championship in 2010, beating his current teammate and D-partner Justin Schultz and the Wisconsin Badgers 5-0 in the final.
The two ended up winning a pair of Stanley Cups together in Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2017.
Thirdly, his role has been reduced from the days when he was Pittsburgh’s top defensive defenseman. He’s slotted in the right spot.
Interestingly, the ice time for he and Schultz is sometimes pushing that of the “2nd pair” of Jamie Oleksiak and Will Borgen.
Dumoulin As A Kraken
When Dumoulin was replaced by rookie Ryker Evans for a game on December 9th at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning, there was an “uh oh” moment. Had the talented kid replaced the wiley veteran?
No. It’s the only time number-8 has sat out all season. Getting a little rest shouldn’t be cause for concern.
Dumoulin is putting up the second best possession analytics of his career, and he’s just one goal away from tying his career best for a season. He has four thus far in just 47 games.
“I’ve been trying to shoot a lot more,” Dumoulin said. “I’m usually a pass-first guy, so I’ve been trying to have that in my head to think shot first. You can always pass off, pass from there, so I’ve been able to read off a lot of guys and create a lot of motion in the offensive zone and get pucks to the net.”
Fitting into a new team’s system is key. For Dumoulin at this point, that’s an understatement.
“(It) Gives me utmost confidence coming down that wall and jumping into the play, trying to make it a 4-on-2 or a 4-on-3 and just trying to create some offense,” he said. “We’ve gotta keep having that trust and that’s a big part of our game.”
After the NHL All-Star break, the Kraken will enter a critical stretch to the season. Seattle general manager Ron Francis is counting on “Doomo” to be a key factor. Francis signed him on July 1st for two seasons at $3.15-million per. At this point he’s getting his money’s worth.