Devan Dubnyk’s wife and infant son are scheduled to arrive in the Twin Cities on Wednesday to join the new Wild goaltender in his new home. They seem safe in unpacking boxes this time.
The Wild traded for Dubnyk on Jan. 14 in a last-ditch Hail Mary to salvage this season. That transaction brought Dubnyk to his fifth organization in one calendar year.
Yep, five places of employment in one year, an absurd level of fluidity in a profession marked by turnover. He’s gone through change of address forms like a newborn does diapers.
“That’s a lot of movement, especially with a family,” Wild defenseman Ryan Suter said. “I couldn’t imagine it.”
The nomadic goalie looks comfy now and might get to enjoy an extended stay if he keeps stopping pucks with the ease of a man on a Sunday afternoon stroll.
Dubnyk posted his third shutout in eight starts Tuesday night as the Wild gained more steam with a 3-0 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks at Xcel Energy Center.
The Hawks represented Dubnyk’s first heavyweight test in a Wild uniform, but his performance became a relative breeze (24 saves) as his teammates pounced on the visitors to give their goalie a stress-free night.
Dubnyk is now 6-1-0 and has a .943 save percentage in Minnesota, and it is not a coincidence that the Wild has found renewed life with its new goalie.
The Wild looks like a different team because players trust their goaltending again. They’re not stepping onto the ice with a sense of dread, knowing they’re at a disadvantage at the game’s most important position.
They can play aggressively and confidently and with the proper focus because they believe in Dubnyk. He’s given them hope that a first-half disaster hasn’t ruined their playoff chances.
“It’s nice to be a part of the turnaround but I’m not going to sit here and say that I’m the reason that we’re playing well,” he said.
He’s absolutely the catalyst behind their four-game winning streak. Dubnyk’s story is pretty remarkable considering his odyssey the past year.
He drew paychecks from the Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators, Montreal Canadiens, Arizona Coyotes and Wild and was traded three times and signed a one-year free-agent contract in that span.
His career has needed a GPS.
“It feels right, and it feels great to be here,” he said.
The Wild offered Dubnyk an audition of sorts, a chance to show the team and other organizations that he can be a reliable starting goalie again. Whether this audition leads to something more permanent — here or elsewhere — will be determined by his performance the rest of the season.
“I think you’re always auditioning,” he said. “Going through last year and seeing how quickly you can have things taken away from you, I’ve just tried to grasp onto every 60 minutes that I get to play and not think too much about the big picture.”
In Edmonton, he lost his confidence, lost his job, lost his way. That got him traded to Nashville and then a stint with Montreal’s AHL affiliate.
The Coyotes signed him as a backup before this season, hoping for a revival. Dubnyk tried to remember the good times in his career and constantly reminded himself that “it was just a fluke that you played well for four years in a row and then had a tough year.”
He played well in Arizona and loved his time there, which helped land him another starting job with a team facing a goaltending crisis.
The Wild gave him a chance to re-establish himself after the Darcy Kuemper experiment blew up on the organization. Coach Mike Yeo laid out his expectations in his first conversation with Dubnyk.
“I told him, we’re not asking you to save the day here,” Yeo said.
Actually, that’s precisely what the Wild needed from him. Not by being a hero, but by being consistent, reliable. Make routine saves that give his team a chance to win and the occasional highlight save that swings momentum.
He’s been a rock so far.
“The guys are playing great,” Dubnyk said. “I don’t know if that’s [because of] me. I don’t know if it’s me or timing.”
It’s been both. Now, Dubnyk plans to use his day off Wednesday to exhale and welcome his family to town.
“I can’t wait,” he said.
He’s moved around enough. He’s ready to be settled.