Almost exactly one year ago, Devan Dubnyk took a trip to Las Vegas having no clue what his future held. After a miserable season in which he played for three franchises and ended up in the minors, Dubnyk didn’t know if he’d find a job at all.
On Tuesday the Wild goaltender again was in Sin City, this time with family, friends and Wild goalie coach Bob Mason, golfing the “outrageous” course Shadow Creek, one day before being up for the Vezina and Masterton trophies at the MGM Grand.
“It doesn’t even seem real to think about,” Dubnyk said of a brilliant second half of the 2014-15 season with the Wild that earned him this week’s trip to the NHL Awards Show. “Almost a year ago to the day, my buddies and I were in Vegas talking about if, what, when and where and every question you can possibly imagine.
“A lot has changed. I mean, being here with all these stars, standing right now at one of the nicest golf courses in the world? This is a better way to do Vegas.”
Dubnyk, who just got back from Ireland where he played seven golf courses and shot 198 holes with several NHLers, is accompanied by his parents, wife, son, brother, sister, mother-in-law, brother-in-law and three friends.
“I figured it was a good time to celebrate,” he said.
Dubnyk hopes to do the same later this week if he can re-sign with the Wild. Dubnyk, 29, who had 27 wins, a 1.78 goals-against average, .936 save percentage and five shutouts for the Wild, can become a free agent next Wednesday.
Tuesday morning, Dubnyk met with Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher for 30 minutes. He called it a “good conversation” and hopes that will continue this week when Fletcher meets with his agent, Mike Liut, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., before this weekend’s draft.
“Nothing’s really changed between us,” Dubnyk said. “I want to be there. [Fletcher] wants me to be there, and we’re going to work as hard as we can to get something done. … There’s no hard feelings or anything.”
Dubnyk can technically begin talking to other teams Thursday. The Wild, theoretically, can talk to pending free agents starting that day, too. Also, Fletcher could theoretically trade for a goalie before or after this weekend’s draft if it looks as if both sides are not making ground toward a new pact.
Dubnyk hopes Fletcher and Liut will work hard this week to ensure it never gets to that point.
“Knowing that both sides want to get something done, we should be able to avoid a situation like that,” Dubnyk said. “But that’s a bit out of my control. You go through it and trust that it’s going to happen.”
Next season’s salary-cap ceiling will be $71.4 million. That gives the Wild about $12.8 million of cap space with eight roster spots open, including those of unsigned Dubnyk, Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and Christian Folin.
“I just loved it in Minnesota,” Dubnyk said. “It’s not [even the success and resurrecting my career]. It’s the city to the fans to the organization … and just how everybody treated me. I want to be there, and I’d like to be there for a long time.”
• Jay Grossman, the new agent for goalie Niklas Backstrom, will meet this week with Fletcher and Wild director of hockey administration Shep Harder in Fort Lauderdale. Backstrom had elbow surgery after the season and so far is unable to be bought out because of it. Fletcher hopes to find a solution with Grossman, who has permission to talk to other teams about a trade or free-agent contract (which would mean Backstrom would consent to a buyout). Grossman also represents Haula.
• Wild unsigned defenseman Jordan Leopold’s daughter, Jordyn, who wrote the infamous letter to the Columbus Blue Jackets hoping her dad would be traded to the Wild, will present the award for General Manager of the Year on Wednesday.
• The 2015-16 NHL schedule will be announced Thursday. It’s believed the Wild opens Oct. 8 at Colorado.