Sharks

Why Sharks targeted Dubnyk on robust NHL goalie market

Sharks

It's a buyer's market for NHL teams currently in search of a goaltender. There are countless options to choose from, with experienced starters like Henrik Lundqvist, Braden Holtby and Jacob Markstrom set to become free agents on Oct. 9.

So, how did the Sharks determine that Devan Dubnyk -- whom they acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Wild on Monday -- was the guy they wanted? After all, he lost his starting job after struggling this past season.

"We were looking for a real quality goaltender who could come in and give us a quality tandem, because we think of the uniqueness of this coming year, potentially a compressed schedule, etc.," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told reporters via videoconference on Monday. "But we also know that Devan is a big, strong, healthy guy that unfortunately had to deal with some personal issues last season. Highly motivated. We've seen him a lot in the West. So ours was just building a goaltending tandem that we think fits for what the needs are going forward. 

"We've got some good goalies coming underneath in Joseph Korenar and (Alexei) Melnichuk also, but we wanted our group to be competitive with this unique schedule upcoming, I think."

Dubnyk's numbers from this past season are unlikely to quell any concerns that the Sharks have fixed their goaltending problem after he went 12-15-2 with an .890 save percentage and 3.35 goals-against average. However, there's some important context that San Jose believes helps explain his struggles.

 

Dubnyk's wife, Jenn, dealt with a serious medical situation last November that prompted the veteran goaltender to take a leave of absence for about a month of the season. Doctors initially were unable to diagnose what was going on, and it's easy to understand how that could detract from Dubnyk's focus and on-ice performance. Jenn has since returned to good health, however, and the Sharks are confident that Dubnyk is set up for a bounce-back season.

"There's a lot of times where unfortunately guys get off track and have a year a little below their standards," Wilson said. "Usually it's because of injury or things like that; in this case it was something that was out of his control. I admire the way that he and his wife Jenn handled it. He's very caring about his family and his wife to make sure that she was in a wonderful place, and having talked to her the other day, I know they're both really excited to come join this organization."

Prior to last season, Dubnyk had been one of the better goalies in the league. During his time with Minnesota (2014 through 2020), he led the NHL in games played (363), was second in wins (177), third in GAA (2.41), tied for fifth in shutouts (23) and tied for sixth in save percentage (.918). He also was an All-Star in 2016, 2017 and 2019.

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Dubnyk is entering the final year of his contract, but Minnesota will be paying for half of it as one of the conditions of the trade. As such, the Sharks are getting a very accomplished netminder at a minimal cost.

"The one thing we wanted to do was identify the type of goalie that we wanted," Wilson added. "He fit all those boxes. Yes, he had a year that was not one of his best years, but there's certainly obvious reasons why. ... We researched and did a lot of talking, looking through all the guys that are available, but we think at 34, being a year away from being an All-Star, having gone through what he went through, what the acquisition cost was, that it ended up being a very good fit for us."

Last season was one to forget for both the Sharks and Dubnyk. Now together, they're hoping the next one will be memorable for far more positive reasons.