Arriving in Minnesota in 2014-15 most considered Devan Dubnyk a lost cause. His performance in St. Paul now has heads turning. As a result, even his fiercest critics are tipping him for Vezina glory. If any goalie has had to learn the hard way, it is Dubnyk. Earning his stripes has come at a tremendous cost, but he has earned every moment. Right now he is definitely one of the league’s best netminders.
His career got off to a bumpy start in Edmonton where a dream became a nightmare. Suffering from poor form, playing for his childhood team became an experience to forget. With Oilers fans calling for his head, the only way was out. A trade to Nashville did little to raise his profile, soon after he was shipped to Montreal who reassigned him to AHL side Hamilton Bulldogs. Dubnyk must have been wondering where it all went wrong before signing for Arizona Coyotes. Soon signs of life became apparent during his spell in the desert.
Liking his form, Minnesota soon came calling. No-one expected him to become Wild’s main starter by the end of 2014-15. Now he leads the NHL in most goalie categories. When he was laughed out of town three years, few would have expected this. So far in 2016-17, Dubnyk has been a reliable presence and so far his numbers reflect his performance. Let’s look at the stats so far (Special thanks to my colleague Mike Laybourne for the assist here).
Wild are currently top of the central division after 44 games. Dubnyk has started 35 of these games. In Save Percentage, Dubnyk tops the table with .936. Detroit’s Jimmy Howard is second with .934 but has only played half the games. Sergei Bobrovsky and Braden Holtby’s SV% are .932 and .929 respectively after 36 games each. Montreal’s goaltending maestro Carey Price’s SV% is .920 and he’s favourite for the Vezina trophy.
Holtby leads the league with six shutouts but Dubnyk is tied with Tuukka Rask at five. Dubnyk arguably sits behind a leakier defense and has faced 1030 shots, compared with Holtby’s 981 and Rask’s 952. Both Holtby and Rask are elite goalies, but Washington and Boston have strong blue lines. This fact makes Dubnyk’s achievement far more impressive.
Dubnyk’s holds the lowest GAA in the league for with a microscopic 1.88. Better than Howard’s and Philipp Grubauer’s 1.96 (from a smaller sample size, the two have played 17 and 11 games respectively). Bobrovsky is sat at 1.97 and Holtby and Rask at 1.99 and 2.08. Last season Braden Holtby won the Vezina Trophy with weaker regular season numbers than Dubnyk is currently posting.
Carey Price is currently considered the league’s best goalie. He will want to keep a firm hold on that crown because Dubnyk is coming after it. His critics won’t want to face it, but this name is deservedly mentioned with the very best of this game. This guy is currently having a career season in net. If anyone deserves to win the Vezina on merit alone, it is definitely Dubnyk. His battle will be close because both Holtby and Price are still hot favourites to upstage him. With this kind of numbers, Dubnyk will be impossible to ignore.