UPDATED with comments from Dubnyk, who spoke to the media this afternoon at Xcel.
Devan Dubnyk's magical year continued Wednesday when he was named to represent the Central Division in the 3-on-3 All-Star celebration Jan. 30-31.
What makes this especially sweet for Dubnyk is the game takes place in Nashville. If you remember, Dubnyk was traded by the Oilers to the Predators in 2013-14, played only two rocky games in a few months and was ultimately traded to Montreal, which assigned him to Hamilton of the AHL.
Dubnyk ultimately signed a one-year deal with Phoenix before being traded Jan. 14, 2015, to the Wild.
And what a year it has been since. He saved the Wild's season by starting 38 consecutive games and going 27-9-2 with a 1.78 goals-against average, .936 save percentage and five shutouts. This season, he is 17-11-3 with a 2.28 goals-against average, 921 save percentage and four shutouts.
Dubnyk got the news of his selection late Tuesday and immediately shared the news with family and friends. He said Wednesday that he hadn't been thinking about being chosen--adding that he didn't even know when the lineups would be announced--but he is eager for his first All-Star experience.
"You just concentrate on playing games and getting the points we need,'' he said. "When you hear news like that, it's pretty exciting. The last 365 days have been pretty crazy, and it's another thing to add to that story.''
Since Dec. 1, Dubnyk has posted a 1.83 goals-against average and .940 save percentage, ranking fourth & tied for third respectively amongst NHL goalies with at least five starts in that span.
Since being acquired by the Wild, Dubnyk is 44-20-5 with a 2.01 GAA, a .929 SV% and nine shutouts in 71 contests. Since Jan. 15, 2015, he leads the NHL in games played, is tied for first in wins and shutouts, tied for second in GAA and third in SV% amongst goalies that have played at least 35 games.
Dubnyk said that one year ago, he never could have imagined being in this position.
"No, not even half of it,'' he said. "Not to say you don’t believe in yourself, but the things that need to fall in place for the last year to happen, that’s why it's fun to talk about. And it's going to be a fun story for me to tell my kids and grandkids going forward.
"It's pretty incredible. To be able to have the year that’s gone on, it's tough to happen. But it did, and it's felt good.''
Nine players have been selected to represent the Wild in past NHL All-Star Games: Marian Gaborik (2003, 2008), Filip Kuba and Dwayne Roloson (2004), Brian Rolston (2007), Niklas Backstrom (2009), Brent Burns and Martin Havlat (2011), Mikko Koivu (2012 - did not play due to injury) and Ryan Suter (2015).
I wrote a column Nov. 22 here where I wrote that by process of elimination, Dubnyk was the Wild's frontrunner.
With only six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies per roster and all seven teams in the Central getting a representative, I figured it would have to be Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Blake Wheeler and Vladimir Tarasenko with Shea Weber, John Klingberg and Erik Johnson and then Rinne and Dubnyk.
Well, suddenly, Matt Duchene began tearing it up, and if you're not going to have an All-Star Game without Toews, that knocked out Wheeler. That meant Dustin Byfuglien would have to make the team from Winnipeg. That basically meant Ryan Suter had no chance to make it, which meant Dubnyk would be the guy.
My only surprise is Klingberg didn't make it over Roman Josi, although, Josi is very deserving.
For those who have tweeted that Rinne didn't deserve a nod, the NHL wasn't having Nashville hosting the All-Star Game without Rinne. So the host Preds get three players.
Like it or not -- and I don't, this is the format, so there were going to be snubs.
Dubnyk also said Wednesday that he put some pressure on himself early this season, when there were questions about whether he could replicate what he did for the Wild last spring. Being chosen to play in the All-Star Game further polishes a reputation he has built upon this season, particularly with his recent play.
"I was prepared for that critique, and I got it at the start of the year,'' he said. "It was a little more frustrating than I expected. I tried to prepare myself for it, but it still gets you a little bit. I wasn't worried. ... Where my game was last year, it was something I knew I was able to continue.
"There were a lot of people waiting to see what I was going to do this year. They were looking forward to jumping on me if I didn’t play well. So it's nice to be able to have this and continue on playing well with this group.''
Other thoughts from Dubnyk on his selection:
--On the new three-on-three format: "I always cringe watching the All-Star Game for the guys in it before, for the goalies. This will probably be multiplied even moreso, with the three-on-three. But that’s why you've got to go in and just enjoy it. I think with a little competition and the tournament setup, it will be a fun experience and a fun format.''
--About facing a full complement of NHL superstars: "Nobody wants to see the goalies in the All-Star Game. You just go and enjoy yourself and don’t worry about how many saves you make. Just see what you can do and try to get in front of as many as possible. ... We'll shoot for half and half: half goals, half saves. That should be good.''
Also, no practice today. Wild officials said a Mikko Koivu update will not be available until tomorrow after the morning skate.