Devan Dubnyk was the biggest reason the Wild was able to save its 2014-15 season from the abyss, going on an iron man run after being acquired midseason and leading Minnesota back into the playoffs. Once there, he was far more up-and-down than he had been during a magical regular-season run, but still the Wild reached the second round and Dubnyk was hailed as a potential long-term savior in goal.
He was rewarded with a six-year contract worth $26 million — not an outrageous sum, but an amount that made it clear the Wild was investing heavily in a small but exceedingly encouraging sample size from the regular season. In 39 regular-season games with the Wild last season, Dubnyk stopped 93.6 percent of shots.
As noted above, though, his numbers regressed in the playoffs. He certainly had his moments, particularly in the series against the Blues, but overall he stopped just 90.8 percent of shots in 10 postseason games — a nagging performance that left a little room for skepticism coming into this season in spite of his big contract.
And, well, through 10 games this season — same number as last year’s playoffs — Dubnyk has dropped even further in that key save percentage stat down to 89.8 — ranking 33rd among all qualified NHL goalies this season.
At the time of the Dubnyk acquisition last year, I argued that he had the potential to be better than many of us thought because of some good advanced numbers while playing for a bad Coyotes team. Namely, he was good in even-strength situations and he was particularly adept at not giving up the soft goals that had been hurting the Wild through the first half of last year. For once, I was right about something.
This year, however, Dubnyk has already surrendered seven of what War on Ice deems “low-danger” goals — tied for the second-most in the NHL.
It’s hardly time for panic, of course, since it’s just 10 games and the Wild has largely survived his uneven play. After all, his record is 7-2-1 (though every other goalie in the NHL with at least six wins has stopped at least 90.8 percent of shots while most are in the 92 to 94 percent range.
Still, I’m sure the Wild (and fans) would feel a lot better if they saw much more of 2014-15 regular season Dubnyk soon, rather than what they’ve seen in the last 20 games going back to last year’s playoffs.