How far Minnesota Wild G Devan Dubnyk has come might be difficult for some to fathom.
Despite being the second-highest goaltender selected in the 2004 NHL Draft and starting his career impressively with the Edmonton Oilers, Dubynk’s performance declined rapidly in 2013. And, in seemingly an instant, he found himself with the Nashville Predators’ AHL affiliate. After being traded again to Montreal, Dubnyk decided to leave the team and go home to be with his wife and newborn son. He signed a one year deal with the Arizona Coyotes after the season, but he had practically fallen off the face of the Earth by this point.
However, it was his all-time low in Arizona that proved to be the turning point for the Regina, SK native. Coyotes goaltending coach Sean Burke helped Dubnyk rediscover his swagger and he returned to form. Though he was improving vastly, the Coyotes struggled in 2014-15 and they decided to give Dubnyk a chance at competitiveness with a trade to Minnesota in January 2015.
The 28-year-old could not have arrived at a better time for the Wild, who were eight points out of a playoff spot at the time. His chance for redemption finally having arrived, Dubnyk shutout the Buffalo Sabres in his Wild debut and went a stellar 27-9-1 with a 1.78 GAA in the season’s second half. With their goaltending issue solidified, Minnesota surged to one of the West’s two Wild Card spots and the team upset the heavily favored St. Louis Blues in the WCQF. Though the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks ended Minnesota’s miracle season in the next round, it did not take away from Dubnyk’s incredible comeback.
At the 2015 NHL Awards, the League rewarded Dubnyk’s unrelenting spirit with the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance and dedication. He also finished third in Vezina Trophy voting and fourth in Hart Memorial Trophy voting. In his acceptance speech Dubnyk thanked the Coyotes for doing what was best for him and his family and the Wild for giving him a chance. One thing was certain, Dubnyk had returned, and Minnesota locked him up for six years and $26 million.
Though he now has a permanent home in Minneapolis, Dubnyk is adding still another chapter to his career. In his first full season with the Wild he was named an NHL All-Star for the first time and again propelled Minnesota to the postseason, where they were downed by the powerhouse Dallas Stars, 4-2.
The Wild did not have a lot of expectations entering this season, but the team is proving everyone wrong. Minnesota just recently had a 12 game winning streak snapped and sit at second in the Western Conference. Dubnyk has been the story of the year for upstart team, currently leading all NHL goaltenders with a .941 Save %, 1.75 GAA and 5 shutouts. Additionally, his 19 wins are a 4-way tie for second. If the Vezina Trophy was awarded today, Dubnyk would almost certainly be the winner and you can also bet that his name is in Hart talks as well.
Everybody loves a good comeback story, and in all of sports over the past couple years, Dubynk’s may be the best of them all. His heart and determination to overcome everything that was thrown his way are truly admirable. And, at only 30, Dubnyk has nowhere to go but up.