It’s not often that a hockey player has his breakout season 11 years after being drafted, but that’s exactly what has happened to Minnesota wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk.
The conventional wisdom of the hockey world would tell you that it does take a little bit longer for a goaltender to mature in comparison to a position player, which is why it would have been no surprise to see Dubnyk solidify a permanent spot between the pipes for himself midway through his career with the Edmonton Oilers, but even though he had shown flashes of steady play with the club, things just didn’t come together for him.
It’s not all Dubnyk’s fault of course. His big 6’6 frame is built to cover up the net and he accomplished more than enough in his four years in the minor leagues to warrant an extended look in the NHL. As luck would have it, the Edmonton Oilers, the team that drafted Dubnyk in 2004 have been struggling for years, despite the fact the team seems to have lady luck on its side when it comes to the league’s draft lottery.
Thanks to the good fortune, or misfortune depending on your point of view, the team has managed to draft the likes of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Dubnyk over the last 11 seasons. Had each of those players played up to the potential they displayed in their junior careers all at the same time in the NHL, the Oilers could be in the middle of a dynasty right now.
Unfortunately that’s not the way things worked out for Duby and the gang, which led to Devan being shipped to the Nashville Predators halfway through his fifth year in the league only to once again find himself moving on, this time to the Arizona Coyotes.
Although there was no chance that he was going to find himself any significant playing time behind Mike Smith in Arizona, Dubnyk did finish his tenure in the desert with a 9-5-2 record, which was just good enough to draw the interest of the Wild, where the former 14thoverall pick finds himself with a spectacular 26-6-1 record through 34 games to go along with 5 shutouts. Those numbers aren’t too bad for a guy who’s never had more than two shutouts in an entire season prior to this year.
Of course what really matters is that now Minnesota finds itself in the middle of a playoff race when at the beginning of the season things seemed to be all out of sorts for the club and it looked as if the team was more likely to be booking spring tee times rather than playoff games.
While the team as a whole has played better over the last three months, the bulk of the credit definitely goes to Dubnyk. He has officially risen from the ashes and brought new hope to the Wild organization.