Regular Season Statline: 80 GP, 5 G, 13 A, 18 PTS, -5
Postseason Statline: 12 GP, 1 G, 6 A, 7 PTS, +3
Defining Moment: Spending all of 2018 with Letang
For me, it’s tough to pinpoint that single defining moment for defenseman Brian Dumoulin this past season and that is actually a good thing. Dumoulin has emerged as one of the better defensive defensemen in hockey but he also seemed to evolve his offensive game as well.
Dumoulin signed a lucrative extension last offseason to stick around the Penguins for the long haul because they saw in his play that he was a huge reason the Penguins were able to repeat as champions. Dumoulin’s contract rewarded him a permanent spot next to the Penguins’ most talented defenseman in Kris Letang. He grabbed hold of that spot and didn’t let it go.
The Penguins needed that type of stable defenseman with the struggling Letang suffered through and his willingness to maybe pinch in the inopportune moments. When he did, Dumoulin was almost always there.
The coaching staff trusted him to play top pair minutes and deployed him against the tough matchups all season long. It was a big time season for Dumoulin that he hopes to carry into next year.
Player Grade: A+
Dumoulin had a rough stretch towards the end of the regular season where he was too aggressive in the offensive zone and would pinch too quickly allowing some odd man breaks but he also had to practically carry Letang at times this year and that’s not an easy thing to do. That and his offensive explosion convinced me to give him the A+.
Dumoulin has become one of the more underrated defenders in the league and was paid handsomely for it. This year, he had more of a puck-to-the-net philosophy. He used to aimlessly throw a puck towards the net. This season, he seemed more determined to try and actually get some quality shots on goalies or get a good deflection. It translated into a career high in goals, assists, and points.
On top of his scoring, Dumoulin has become much more aware on the offensive end and moves the puck very well for a plus-sized blueliner. He skates well for being 6’4″ and he has a physical edge to him when he needs to.
The Penguins surely were happy with the improved offensive game after the big pay raise he received last offseason and I am sure they would love to see his game continue to improve. Obviously, he won’t be a candidate to score 10 goals in a season but a solid five or so will do.
Role for 2018
Dumoulin will be inserted right back into the top pair with Letang. He provides a big, left-handed shot for Mike Sullivan to deploy in all situations if needed. He is one of the most underrated defensemen in the league and he’ll continue to be due to his style of play. The type that constantly shutdown top players but don’t put up the numbers offensively don’t garner the national attention. The fan base sees it, though.
Look for Dumoulin to post a similar season next year if he can take another step offensively. No team can ever have too many really good 2-way blueliners and the Penguins have found themselves a really good one in “Dumo”.