Less than three years ago Devan Dubnyk‘s career seemed like it was pretty much finished. At least when it came to having any sort of career as a successful No. 1 in the NHL.
The Edmonton Oilers, the team that drafted him and gave him his first chance in the league, had given up on him after parts of four seasons where they never really gave him much of a chance to be an unquestioned full-time starter, or gave him much of a chance to play behind a decent NHL defense. Even so, he still managed to post better than league average numbers and was a rare bright spot on an otherwise dismal team.
But after a horrible start to the 2013-14 season the Oilers traded him to Nashville that started a one-year journey that saw him bounce from the Predators (two games), to Montreal (zero games) and then to Arizona (19 games).
It was not until January, 2015 that his career really started to take off when Arizona sent him to the Minnesota Wild for a third-round draft.
It was an entirely new beginning for both the Wild and Dubnyk.
At the time, the Wild were an underachieving team that was being completely sunk by a goaltending situation that had no real short-term or long-term solution. Dubnyk fixed all of that and not only put together a 27-9-3 run with a .929 save percentage down the stretch, he helped the Wild turn its season around enough to earn a playoff berth and advance to the second round, while Dubnyk himself finished third in the Vezina Trophy voting.
He has not really slowed down since, and entering play on Sunday afternoon against the Detroit Red Wings has to be one of the leading favorites to actually win the Vezina this season.
He will be the Minnesota focus for NBC’s Star Sunday broadcast.
Dubnyk’s performance this season speaks for itself as he currently leads the league in pretty much every meaningful category for goaltenders, including save percentage (.934), even-strength save percentage (.943), goals against average (1.96) and wins (30).
His five shutouts are tied for second in the league.
It is not a fluke performance, either.
Since joining the Wild on Jan. 14, 2015, this is where Dubnyk stands among all NHL goalies (minimum 40 games played).
- His .927 overall save percentage is second in the NHL behind only Carey Price (.929)
- his .935 even-strength save percentage is also second in the NHL behind … only Carey Price (.940).
- His 15 shutouts are tied for first in the NHL with Braden Holtby.
- He has averaged one shutout every 9.8 starts during that stretch. That is third behind only Price (7.7) and Holtby (9.6).
- His 89 wins are second in the NHL behind only only Holtby (96).
It is a level of play that is right on par with Price and Holtby among the NHL’s elite.
After barely sneaking into the playoffs a year ago with a rather pedestrian 87 points whe Wild are rolling toward a Central Division crown and No. 1 seed in the Western Conference this season. There are a lot of people responsible for that turnaround, from new coach Bruce Boudreau who has helped the team’s forward talent shine offensively, to a huge bounce back season from Eric Staal after he was signed in free agency.
Dubnyk’s play in net is also right at the top of that list.