Sharks’ Dubnyk Trade Gives Jones a Vote of Confidence

One day ahead of the 2020 NHL Draft, general manager Doug Wilson made two separate deals with the Minnesota Wild. While acquiring Ryan Donato saw the San Jose Sharks give up a larger asset, I personally had some optimism about the team receiving Devan Dubnyk for such a low price.

Devan Dubynk Minnesota Wild
Former Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

However, he had shown signs of regression the last few seasons in Minnesota, which eventually resulted in him losing the starting role to Alex Stalock, finishing with just a .890 save percentage (SV%). With half his salary retained, he joined the Sharks to compete for the starting role with Martin Jones.

In my opinion, he never looked out of place in San Jose. In fact, both January and February saw Dubnyk have a higher SV% than Jones. However, he was never given a chance to claim the crease, suiting up for consecutive starts only a handful of times. Recently, Jones has emphatically taken the starting job, and given Dubnyk’s expiring contract and $2.1 million cap hit, he was made available for trade.

The Trade and Fit for San Jose

Dubnyk was sent to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round selection and Greg Pateryn. This is eerily similar to the price San Jose acquired the 34-year-old for when they received Dubnyk and a seventh-round pick for a fifth-round pick.

The Sharks now have seven selections in the upcoming draft and received a defenseman that could potentially replace injured Marc-Edouard Vlasic in the short term. Pateryn, 30 years old, was recently traded in exchange for Ian Cole from the Wild to the Avalanche, mainly to free up cap space and playing time for young players by Colorado general manager Joe Sakic. His $2.3 million cap hit saw his trade for Dubnyk adjust cap space minimally for San Jose and Colorado.

Devan Dubnyk, Greg Pateryn Kevin Labanc
Former Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk makes a save on San Jose Sharks’ Kevin Labanc, as Wild’s Greg Pateryn defends. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Pateryn’s contract expires this offseason, and given his age, I would not see him as a long-term add for the Sharks because all of their usual six blueliners remain under contract for at least another season. Potentially, he could be flipped to another team for an asset, but currently, I see a fit for him as a third-pairing, right-handed defenseman.

He would fit that role nicely. Due to the defensive depth of both Colorado and Minnesota, Pateryn has only skated in 11 NHL games this season. He’s also played in 10 games for the minor league affiliate of the Avalanche, the Colorado Eagles, and has recorded three goals. Mainly a defensive-minded player, his defensive metrics are better than the majority of San Jose defensemen given his play the last four seasons, but he played small sample sizes in the past two seasons.

Greg Pateryn RAPM (Courtesy HockeyViz)

The fifth-round selection will surely be late in the draft, given the Avalanche’s status as a primary contender for the Stanley Cup. Currently, the Sharks have two fifth-round selections. They haven’t selected in this round since 2016, including trading down the last two seasons from the fifth to receive two seventh-round selections. The Sharks have had success in the last three drafts with sixth and seventh-round picks, recently selecting John Leonard, Santeri Hatakka, and Adam Raska.

What Happens to Sharks Goaltending?

Currently, the Sharks sit four points out of a playoff spot with one more game to play than the Arizona Coyotes. The only chance the team has to be competitive is if Jones plays extremely well in the remaining 16 games. Thus, Dubnyk was very expendable.

Martin Jones San Jose Sharks
Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

However, the club still has four sets of back-to-back games remaining. Aside from the team’s most recent contest, Jones is historically solid playing on this little rest. Funny enough, due to Jones being pulled multiple times this season, both possible replacements for Dubnyk have taken the ice in the NHL at some point this season.

In my opinion, the Sharks are likely to see both Alexei Melnichuk and Josef Korenar start a game this season. Korenar, 23 years old, has been the more consistent netminder for the San Jose Barracuda of the AHL this season. He is characterized by his more calm and reserved goaltending approach, and has a record of 5-1-2 with Barracuda with a 3.22 goals against average (GAA) and .898 SV%.

Melnichuk, 22 years old, was signed out of the KHL, held a 6-6-2 record with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod this season, and had a .912 SV% ahead of coming to San Jose. He tends to be a more quick and acrobatic netminder, and while adjusting to more narrow North American rinks, he has recorded a 2-4-3 record with a 3.08 GAA and .882 SV%. His most recent start was quite solid, but overall his season has largely fluctuated between great and poor starts.

Alexei Melnichuk SKA St Petersburg
Alexei Melnichuk, SKA St Petersburg (Photo by Anatoly MedvedTASS via Getty Images)

Both netminders are young and in the Sharks’ future plans and will likely split time between AHL starter and NHL backup. Regardless, the team will look for Jones to continue his recent run of great form. So far in April, the netminder has had three of his five starts finish with a .940 SV%, with the others seeing him allow four goals. The Sharks’ small playoff hopes largely lay on his shoulders.

More Deadline Moves

Patrick Marleau and Marcus Sorensen remain likely fourth-liners to be dealt by the trade deadline tomorrow. However, possibly more exciting for the organization, the Sharks can leverage their large amount of cap space to acquire assets.

Yesterday, the Detroit Red Wings received a fourth-round selection for retaining a little over $1 million in cap space in the David Savard trade. San Jose, per CapFriendly, has around $11 million in deadline cap space. Wilson could easily retain salary in a large transaction to gain assets.

The Sharks have holes, mainly in their center depth, but I do not see them acquiring much given the small shot they have at the postseason.

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