On January 13, 2015, the Minnesota Wild were going through a rough stretch. The Wild had lost 11-of-13 games (2-7-4) and were going nowhere fast. The Wild were (18-18-5) and sitting in 12th place of the Western Conference standing seven points out of the final Wild Card spot. If the playoffs had started that day, the Wild would have been golfing.
During their midwinter losing streak, the Wild’s goaltending struggled mightily. They were snake bitten and couldn’t stop a beach ball. The Wild’s goaltending stats on January, 13, 2015, were not very good at all. Niklas Backstrom was (5-6-3, .892 SV% and a 2.83 GAA). Backstrom’s was ranked 62nd in save percentage and 53rd in goals against average.
Darcy Keumper’s numbers weren’t very good either, he was (13-12-1, .902 SV% and a 2.68 GAA) Keumper’s was ranked 53rd in save percentage and 45th in goals against average. (Hockey-Reference)
Even though the Wild were struggling, coach Yeo had confidence in his team.
“I still have confidence in this group,” Yeo said after Sunday’s game. “Still know what we’re capable of, but there’s no doubt the clock is ticking here.” (Michael Russo)
Those words did nothing to calm the Wild fan base. Many in the State of Hockey were getting restless and calling for coach Yeo’s head. Wild fans wanted blood. Yeo’s comments seemed empty and meaningless to Wild fans. They wanted wins, not platitudes. Just when it looked like the Wild were imploding, GM Chuck Fletcher made a trade that turned everything around.
Enter Devan Dubnyk
Then on January 14, 2015, the Minnesota Wild acquired Devan Dubnyk (97-91-26, 2.69 GAA, .914 SV%) from the Arizona Coyotes for a third round draft pick in the 2015 NHL entry.
That move appeared to be a steal as Dubnyk started 38 games in a row for the Wild. During those 38 games, Dubnyk went (27-8-2, 1.78 GAA, .936 SV%) and helped the Wild qualify for the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Wild finished with a (48-26-8) record and will play the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Needless to say, Dubnyk helped Wild turn their season around. Without Dubnyk, the Wild would be scheduling their tee times and playing golf. Since the Wild acquired Dubnyk, they’re a plus-43 goal differential. That’s the best in the NHL.
In three games against the Blues, Dubnyk is (2-1-0, 2.62 GAA, and .918 SV%) against the Blues this season.
Last summer, Dubnyk signed a one-year deal worth $800,000.00 with the Arizona Coyotes and will soon to be an unrestricted free agent. Based on his performance with the Wild, Dubnyk is set to cash in during the NHL’s 2015 free agent signing period. The Wild might want to consider offering him to a contract as soon as possible.
Eric is a 1996, 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota. Eric covers the University of North Dakota Hockey and Division I college hockey. Eric is the Contributing Editor for Inside Hockey.