Author: Jason Brough

Dubnyk: Minnesota is ‘where I want to be’


A couple of tweets from the Minnesota Wild’s end-of-the-year media availability:

We wrote about Devan Dubnyk on Friday. Yesterday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman added his two bits as well:

Now that the season’s over, it’s time for Devan Dubnyk and the Wild to have a serious conversation. Does Dubnyk take a slight discount because he’s found a great fit? My bet is Minnesota wants to get this done for somewhere between $4-$4.5M, but would anyone be surprised if Dubnyk, at the apex of his earning potential, goes for $5M? Does Minnesota offer longer term — and more overall money — in exchange for a lower AAV? That might be the solution.

Also remember that Dubnyk doesn’t have unlimited options here. There are only so many teams looking for a starting goalie. You can probably count them on one hand. There’s Edmonton’s, but it’s hard to see him going back there. San Jose’s another, but it’s hard to see 1) the Sharks outbidding the Wild in a big way, and 2) Dubnyk picking San Jose over the place where he salvaged his career and wants to be.

The big question is what GM Chuck Fletcher decides to offer. Again, as we wrote Friday, there is significant risk in locking up a goalie for big money and term. Goaltending is unpredictable. One year they can’t stop a beach ball, the next they’re a Vezina Trophy finalist. (See: Dubnyk, Devan).

How does three years at $4.5 million per sound?

Caps facing arguably the biggest game in franchise history

New York Rangers v Washington Capitals - Game Six

It may not be fair, but we all know what the narrative will be if the Washington Capitals lose Wednesday in New York.

Same old Caps. Can’t win the big game. We thought it was different this time. But it’s not.

Head coach Barry Trotz is hoping his team’s near comeback in Game 6 is proof that narrative can be avoided.

“I thought we had a lot of resiliency to fight back,” Trotz said, per the Washington Post. “I know this team has got a lot of character they showed during the year. Probably not the path when you’re up 3-1 that you want to take, but at the same time it’s a great opportunity in Game 7 to find out, I know this team very, very well, and it’s got a tremendous amount of character.”

The Caps have already come up big once in these playoffs, suffocating a dangerous Islanders team in Game 7 of the first round.

But that was at home. This one’s on the road, in “the lion’s den,” as Trotz puts it. The same rink, Madison Square Garden, where on Friday the Caps came 101 seconds from clinching their first trip to the conference finals since 1998.

You could make the argument that Wednesday will be the biggest game in Washington’s franchise history. You’d have some competition there, but you could put forth a few good reasons.

At the top of the list would be the opportunity for the Caps, should they beat the Rangers. Neither Montreal nor Tampa Bay, whoever comes out of that series, has looked entirely dominant in the playoffs. Beat the Habs or Lightning and it’s the Ducks or Blackhawks in the final. Two very good teams, yes, but beatable for sure.

There are 30 teams in the NHL. The league’s landscape changes by the year. These opportunities don’t come around all the time.

What’s more, this is not a particularly young Caps roster we’re talking about. Alex Ovechkin is nearly 30. This isn’t like, say, 2008-09 when Washington got bounced in the second round and it wasn’t the end of the world because he was only 23. Back then, Nicklas Backstrom was still just 21.

Since then, the Caps have only come close to escaping the second round once — in 2012, when they lost a Game 7 to the Rangers. At MSG.

“It’s disappointing,” Braden Holtby said then. “We really did believe in here that we had the team to do it all. We gave ourselves a great chance.”

The Caps have another “great chance” Wednesday. Whether they can take advantage remains to be seen.

Related: Messier moment? Ovechkin: ‘We’re going to come back and win the series’

So…what should the Wild do with Dubnyk?


There’s no two ways about it — Devan Dubnyk saved the Minnesota Wild’s season.

Before he joined them in January, they couldn’t get a save and were losing because of it. After he joined them, he was so good the biggest debate was whether he needed a rest. And for that, he was named a Vezina Trophy finalist.

But the Dubnyk magic eventually ran out. The 29-year-old went 4-6 in the playoffs with a .908 save percentage. He can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

So, what should the Wild do? They still have two goalies — Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper — signed for next season. Kuemper, just 25, could still be a very good NHL netminder. Backstrom, unfortunately, may not even be good enough to back up next season. (And don’t underestimate the importance of the back-up. It can be the difference between making and missing the playoffs. Just ask a team like the Dallas Stars.)

Chances are, GM Chuck Fletcher will at least attempt to re-sign Dubnyk. The challenge will be to get him under contract for a reasonable cap hit, as well as a term that limits the club’s long-term risk. Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned about goaltending in 2014-15, it’s that goaltending is extremely unpredictable.

The last thing the Wild will want to do is what the Coyotes did with Mike Smith, which is make a huge commitment to a guy based essentially on one excellent season, only to end up “married” to a guy with some of the worst numbers in the league. (Need we remind you of Dubnyk’s numbers in 2013-14?)

Of course, on the other hand, a team that doesn’t have goaltending is a team that has almost zero chance of consistently winning. (See: the Minnesota Wild, before Dubnyk.) Can the Wild really afford to let a Vezina Trophy finalist walk away?

Hence, the fascinating conundrum for GMs. Goaltending is the one position you absolutely cannot live without. While at the same time, it’s the one position where you can roll the dice on an inexpensive option and have it work out rather nicely for you.

Case in point, Braden Holtby’s cap hit is less than $2 million. He’s been pretty good for the Capitals, no? And let’s not forget about the Ducks, still very much alive in the playoffs, after gambling on two goalies for less than $2 million.

Try rolling the dice on a No. 1 center or d-man for less than $2 million and see how it works out.

Anyway, we don’t envy Fletcher here. He’s got a huge decision to make. And whatever choice he makes is fraught with risk.