There was a time a number of years in the past when Kelly Hrudey questioned if Devan Dubnyk was going to have the ability to stay an NHL goalie.
Dubnyk’s sport was in tatters through the 2013-14 season. His targets towards common ballooned and his save share shrank as he went from Edmonton to Nashville to Montreal in a span of about seven weeks.
“I used to be not sure if he was going to have the ability to restore his sport, frankly,” mentioned Hrudey, the previous Sharks goalie who’s in his seventh yr as an NHL analyst for Sportsnet.
Dubnyk then signed as a free agent with Arizona in the summertime of 2014, labored tirelessly to reboot his profession, acquired instruction and assist from former Coyotes goalie coach Sean Burke, and went on to take pleasure in 5 straight stellar seasons, largely with the Minnesota Wild.
From the 2013-14 season to the next yr, Dubnyk improved his save share from .891 to .929, and his document of 11-18-Three to 36-14-4. He went from virtually being out of the NHL to being a Vezina Trophy finalist the next yr.
At this time, Dubnyk as soon as once more has to point out that he can nonetheless be a high quality NHL goalie once more after a tough 2019-20 season. Although he’s older, the highway again for Dubnyk may not be practically as treacherous because it was seven years in the past.
Dubnyk’s off-ice points involving his spouse’s well being, are, from all indications, within the rear-view mirror. After being one of many busiest goalies within the NHL, he’s additionally had a number of months to relaxation his physique and get his thoughts proper for this season. He’s been given a contemporary begin by the Sharks, who acquired him from the Wild in October.
Dubnyk may make his first begin for the Sharks on Monday after they face the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Middle. It could be Dubnyk’s first begin since March eight of final yr after Minnesota went solely with goalie Alex Stalock throughout its transient keep contained in the NHL’s playoff bubble in Edmonton.
“He had an off yr final yr, however he wasn’t practically as dangerous or off as he was with the Oilers group,” Hrudey informed this newspaper in October after the commerce. “Yeah, there’s work to be completed, for certain, however the curve isn’t fairly as steep.”
At 34 and with 521 NHL common season video games to his credit score, Dubnyk nonetheless feels he has one thing to show. Dubnyk had a 12-15-1 document final season and his .890 save share was among the many lowest of his profession.
“I believe greater than something I simply wish to play effectively for this group,” Dubnyk mentioned. “We’ve been collectively right here on our personal for what looks like a very long time. So I’ve obtained to know these guys effectively.”
Dubnyk, like all NHL goalies, didn’t get an opportunity to play in any preseason video games to knock the rust off. He did see motion within the Sharks’ intra-squad scrimmages in coaching camp, together with one 60-minute scrimmage during which he allowed seven targets.
Dubnyk mentioned Sunday he didn’t lose a lot sleep over that consequence, focusing now on what he must do as soon as he will get in a sport.
“You go on the market day-after-day and also you begin day one with the basics and the issues that it’s good to have in your sport, myself, to be sharp and to offer myself one of the best likelihood,” Dubnyk mentioned. “You then take these issues and simply attempt to get somewhat cleaner, somewhat sharper day-after-day so that you’re interested by it much less and fewer and having it somewhat extra automated.
“I’ve actually felt that manner as camp’s gone on. We’re out of that now so it’s time to go.”
There are a number of explanation why normal supervisor Doug Wilson introduced Dubnyk to the Sharks.
One was presumably as a result of Dubnyk solely had one yr left on his contract that carries a $4.33 million cap hit for this season, half of which was retained by the Wild. That provides prospect goalie Alexei Melnichuk, 22, extra time to develop and get used to North American sport.
One other was as a result of goalie coach Evgeni Nabokov felt Dubnyk nonetheless had the attributes essential to be nice: He had been a No. 1 goalie for a number of years and will are available in and realistically compete with Martin Jones for the highest spot.
The organizational hope is that Dubnyk can push Jones — signed for an additional three years after this one — to be higher, though each goalies will doubtless see a good quantity of enjoying time early within the season.
“I believe crucial factor is to have an excellent relationship and simply be assist there,” Dubnyk mentioned of the goalie tandem. “If (Jones) desires to return speak about a play or joke about one thing or no matter, we’ve obtained to stay collectively, the 2 of us.
“I at all times mentioned there’s solely two guys within the room that know what it’s wish to be a goalie, so that you’ve obtained to be there for one another.”
Dubnyk’s future within the NHL previous this season would possibly rely on how he makes use of this chance with the Sharks. If he performs effectively, he’ll doubtless get one other contract elsewhere. If he doesn’t, he is perhaps scrambling to remain within the league.
He’s responded effectively to that type of state of affairs earlier than.
“I believe everyone’s rooting for him to search out his sport once more,” Hrudey mentioned. “He had 5 actually nice years with Minnesota and final yr was only a plain, previous down yr for a lot of causes.
“All people is aware of that Devan goes to place within the work to try to get his sport again. He’s 34 years previous, so this isn’t a long run resolution for the Sharks. However actually for at the very least two good years, he going to be again to the place he was for these 5 nice years with Minnesota.”
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