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Devan Dubnyk isn't the hero many in Minnesota expected, but he's certainly performed the role of hero quite well.
Or maybe the Minnesota Wild saved Dubnyk. How one defines the situation is a matter of semantics, but one thing that's not up for debate is Dubnyk's resurgence in Minnesota and how much he's been able to help the Wild in such a short period of time.
On Jan. 14, Dubnyk was traded from the Arizona Coyotes to Minnesota for a third-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. Trading for a goalie in-season is never a sure-fire proposition but the Wild were desperately in need of help in the crease. Prior to Dubnyk's acquisition, Minnesota was tied for last in the League in on-ice save percentage at .889, according to war-on-ice.com.
Dubnyk, facing a heavy workload in Arizona, had a .916 save percentage in his 19 appearances with the Coyotes this season prior to the trade. One could have predicted Dubnyk would have offered the Wild better goaltending than they were getting, but that wasn't entirely saying much.
Yet Dubnyk has risen to the level of the League's elites in his short time in Minnesota. Since debuting for the Wild on Jan. 15, Dubnyk ranks fifth with a .941 percentage among goalies who have played at least 400 minutes, according to war-on-ice.com.
When Dubnyk earned his fourth shutout in his ninth start, he became the fastest goalie to have four shutouts with a team among goalies who debuted in the expansion era, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Dubnyk's job has been much easier since joining the Wild. During his time in Arizona, Dubnyk faced an average of 32.5 shots per 60 minutes, which ranked the eighth-highest among goalies, according to war-on-ice.com. Add to that the Coyotes were allowing 29 scoring chances against per 60 minutes in (fifth-most among any team League) and Dubnyk's minutes weren't exactly pressure-free.
Minnesota, however, has provided Dubnyk with a cushier work environment. Dubnyk has faced an average of 25.7 shots per 60 minutes since joining the Wild, the second-fewest in the League, according to war-on-ice.com, only behind Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins. It's also a drop-off of more than six shots per 60 minutes, or the difference between the stingiest team as far as average shots allowed per 60 minutes this season, and the second-highest team overall.
And those opportunities, on average, aren't as dangerous as what Dubnyk was facing on the Coyotes. Minnesota has allowed 23.9 scoring chances against per 60 minutes since Dubnyk debuted, the third-fewest in the League. Again, the difference is alarming: the 5.1 fewer scoring chances against per 60 Dubnyk is seeing constitutes the difference between the team that allows the lowest number of scoring chances in the League per 60 this season and the team that allows the 12-fewest.
Essentially, Dubnyk went from a team that allowed high-volume, high-risk shot opportunities to one that, even before he got there, was excellent in terms of shot and quality suppression. His improvements have been considerable, but not unpredictable.
Of goalies to change teams midseason, Dubnyk has been (at least so far) one of the biggest success stories in recent memory. Dwayne Roloson helped the Edmonton Oilers reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2006 after an in-season trade, but had very mediocre numbers in the regular season. Patrick Roy won 22 games for the Colorado Avalanche in 1995-96 after an in-season trade and helped them win the Stanley Cup that season.
Should Dubnyk continue to perform at his current level, he'll enter the territory of those two trades.
Curtis McElhinney, Columbus Blue Jackets
Getting the bulk of the minutes in Columbus' goal with Sergei Bobrovsky out, McElhinney has put up strong numbers even if his record does not reflect that. McElhinney has gone 3-3-0, but with a .920 save percentage. He's giving the Blue Jackets a chance to win every night, and two of his three losses have been one-goal games. He's owned in 20 percent of Yahoo leagues, which is a pretty low number.
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
As Los Angeles is battling for playoff position, Quick is battling his own struggles. Quick has allowed three or more goals in five of his past seven starts and, dating back to when he was pulled against the Nashville Predators on Jan. 3 after allowing three goals on nine shots, is 3-6-3 with an .891 save percentage. Quick has won his past two starts (five goals allowed on 54 shots) but with the Kings in desperate need of points, Quick needs to steady his play.
KEEP AN EYE ON
The Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks
Each of these teams have a lot of talent in the crease, but are going through some decision-making periods. The Ducks sent starter Frederik Andersen to injured reserve and called up John Gibson, who many assume is the future franchise goaltender. Gibson relieved Ilya Bryzgalov on Tuesday against the Florida Panthers and didn't fare much better, but if Gibson plays well in Andersen's absence, Anaheim will be forced to consider keeping him around.
In Detroit, Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson are each getting healthy at the same time. Howard is reportedly starting Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets, while Petr Mrazek -- who filled in while they were both out -- started Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was pulled in favor of Howard to start the third period. Howard should resume his role as starter, but coming off an injury, whoever hangs around as the backup would be a worthwhile fantasy asset. If Mrazek wins the backup job, with Gustavsson an unrestricted free agent this summer, he's certainly a trade possibility with the NHL Trade Deadline at 3 p.m. on March 2 approaching.
Read this week's Top 30 goalies list by clicking HERE.