Dubnyk opens up about 'incredible' time with Nabokov, Sharks


Devan Dubnyk was a member of the Sharks for just six months, but the franchise left a mark on him during that short time.

After acquiring the goalie from the Minnesota Wild in October, the Sharks traded him Saturday to the Colorado Avalanche for defenseman Greg Pateryn and a 2021 fifth-round draft pick.

With Martin Jones playing well and seizing control of the primary goaltender duties, and the Sharks' desire to look at a pair of young netminders, the 34-year-old Saskatchewan native now has a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup on one of the best teams in the NHL.

A day after the trade, Dubnyk heaped praise on his short time in San Jose, and working with goaltending coach and franchise icon Evgeni Nabokov, in an interview with The Athletic's Peter Baugh.

"It was short, but it was really awesome," Dubnyk told Baugh, who covers the Avalanche. "Getting a chance to work with goalie coach Evgeni Nabokov was just incredible. I knew him before, and we had just great days every day. He’s very specific on different things he asks of you. Me and him got along really well, and he added a lot that I will take forward.

"It was such a short time, and the coaching staff, the trainers, the guys on the team especially, I just got along with everyone so well. It was such an enjoyable time for being such a s---ty time [due to COVID-19]: We were stuck in Arizona and then we couldn’t come back, so we had a lot of time to be together and I just really appreciate the group and what we went through. It’s something I’ll never forget."


During his time with the Sharks, Dubnyk made 13 starts and four addition appearances. He went 3-9-2 with an .898 save percentage and a 3.18 goals against average. He lost his last four games and hadn't played for the Sharks since March 27 against the Arizona Coyotes.

While Dubnyk had his moments, he never found solid footing with the Sharks. He's a free agent at the end of the 2021 season and his current contract contains a 10-team no-movement clause, but clearly he waived that in order to join the top team in the West Division.

The trade rumors aren't always easy to deal with for players, especially during a global pandemic that forced the Sharks to spend the first few weeks of the season away from the Bay Area. But going to the Avs was an chance Dubnyk couldn't pass up.

"A lot of s--t has gone on this year," Dubnyk told Baugh. "It’s been a tough year, and I didn’t necessarily want to just get moved to get moved, especially because I really enjoyed my time in San Jose and thought things were good there.

"But when there’s an opportunity like this where you’ve got one of the best teams in the league and guys you’re familiar with, have played a ton of games against, it’s a no-brainer. You have to pinch yourself a little bit. It’s incredible to have this opportunity. I know how good this team is; I’ve been on the other side of it."

Interestingly, Dubnyk won't be able to break his ties with the Sharks just yet. He revealed to Baugh that he will have to wear his Sharks mask for his first few games with Colorado until a new, custom mask is ready for him.

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With Dubnyk gone, the Sharks gave 23-year-old Josef Korenar a chance to make his debut Saturday late in their 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. Fellow rookie Alexei Melnichuk could also get a chance to play over the final 16 games of the season.

Trading Dubnyk accomplished two things for the Sharks. They were able to add a draft pick and free up playing time for two young players.

And Dubnyk sure isn't complaining about going from sixth place in the West to first.