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
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 14th
overall 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.
Although a hot second half of the season does
not a career make, it’s safe to say that Dubnyk may have just found the perfect
place to continue his career, although probably many years later than he
thought he would have.
Labels: Jack Choros