Devan Dubnyk currently faces a situation, or rather a pressing question in his young career, one he has never had to deal with before – is he the best goalie set to hit free agency on July 1st?. While Devan Dubnyk is only starting to arise as a household name in the general sense (except for in the Northwest, naturally), he commands strong attention heading into July 1st – attention that Minnesota is seemingly taking too lightly.
Dubnyk who started his pro career with the Oilers back in 2009, only managed to have meager success with the club during their “re-building” years achieving 61 wins over 171 games (36% win ratio). Dubnyk now? He’ll be attending the NHL Awards on June 24th as a candidate for both the Vezina Trophy and the Masterton Trophy. These
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nominations come after a tremendous turn-around this year, hitting the 36-14-4 mark while logging time with both the Coyotes/Wild.
Prior to the January 14th trade that sent Dubnyk from Arizona to Minnesota, the team’s record was 18-19-5. The Wild finished the season at 46-28-8.
So why haven’t the Wild reached a deal with the promising net-minder? Well it could be just that. Dubnyk is “promising”, but not proven. Reports have been floating around that Dubnyk is seeking a deal with a long-term outset around the $5 mil. plus mark. Couple that with the fact that the Wild have to stomach the idea that their backup goaltender Niklas Backstrom will be making $4 mil., it might be a tough pill to swallow. Add to the equation that Dubnyk fell apart to some degree in speaking in the playoffs, going 4-6 with a 2.53 GAA, and it’s no wonder Minnesota is treading slowly in contract talks before committing to something for the long-run.
With a scheduled meeting with Wild GM Chuck Fletcher set to take place early this week, there is a strong chance that a contract may (‘may’ being the key word) be reached sooner rather than later. After all Backstrom is 37 years old and has been plagued with the injury bug throughout his career. The other goalie the Wild relied upon this past season was Darcy Kuemper, who served as a disappointing fill-in going 14-12-2 with a 2.60 GAA and .905 SV%, but ultimately needs more time to grow in the minors (he’s only 25). All things considered $5 mil. is not an otherworldly figure. For sample size, Corey Crawford makes $6 mil. a year and Marc-Andre Fleury just signed this season for a hit of $5.75 mil. The scary thing for the Wild brass is undoubtedly that Dubnyk’s last paycheck was for $800,000. Speaking of, according to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, call it stubbornness or aggressive but Fletcher is not afraid to let Dubnyk go if a deal cannot be reached. Here is what he said,
"“Our intention is to have two goaltenders next year…The longer it goes you don’t have a deal, the more aggressively you have to look at options. There are free agents, and at the draft, lots of trades transpire”"
So how would he fare on the free market? If Dubnyk hits the market at the beginning of next month I believe, in my eyes, he’ll have a handful of suitors for his services. If you take his 2013- 2014 pitstop in Nashville out of the picture, while Dubnyk’s win percentage wasn’t great in his three years with Edmonton, he did have a save percentages of .916, .914 and .920, respectively. Also, who could overlook the fact that Dubnyk possibly saved the Wild’s season. Prior to the January 14th trade that sent Dubnyk from Arizona to Minnesota, the team’s record was 18-19-5. The Wild finished the season at 46-28-8. Could the Sharks who have Antti Niemi possibly leaving as a UFA be interested? Quite possibly. How about the Sabres or Flames who are definitely in for some depth at the position? Also a potential landing place.
Whatever the case may be, Dubnyk should stick close to his asking price, after all he is in the mix for two awards this week and holds all the leverage. On the other hand, the Wild better be prepared for a legitimate backup plan if a deal cannot be reached, or else they might have to fight even harder to make the postseason come next year.