GLENDALE -- After a 2013-14 season that included stints with three different teams and two trades, new Coyotes backup goaltender Devan Dubnyk has come to Arizona seeking to start a new chapter in his career.
Dubnyk began last season with Edmonton, the team that selected him 14th overall in the 2004 NHL Draft. Starting the season as the No. 1 goalie, Dubnyk posted an 11-17-2 record with a 3.36 goals-against average and a .894 save percentage in 38 appearances before being traded to Nashville on Jan. 15. His time there was short; he appeared in just two games with the Predators before being moved again, this time to Montreal at the trading deadline.
|Devan Dubnyk (left). Photo by Norm Hall. |
Dubnyk never played for the Canadiens down the stretch - he was instead sent to finish the season with their American Hockey League team in Hamilton, where he made eight appearances and posted a 2-5-0 record with a 3.33 GAA and an .893 save percentage.
With last season behind him, Dubnyk can't wait for a fresh start in a new place. The decision to sign with Arizona as a free agent was an easy one.
"After a very difficult season for me it was very important to go to a place that believed in me and wanted me to be there," Dubnyk said.
Having played in a system that stresses offense for most of his career, Dubnyk said the opportunity to be a goaltender for a team that emphasizes defense was another factor that attracted him to the Coyotes.
"I’ve played lots of games against the Coyotes in the past and I respect the way they played then and I’m definitely looking forward to being a part of it," Dubnyk said. "It’s not that they don’t create offense or score goals, they just do it a different way. They do it by starting at one end and working their way down to the other, which is a successful way of doing things."
Goaltending Coach Sean Burke said he thinks Dubnyk coming into a situation where his role as backup to starter Mike Smith is clearly defined will help him.
"He knows we have a very, very good No. 1 goalie,” said Burke. “He’s not coming in here having to prove that he’s got to be the No. 1, he’s coming here to contribute. I think that, combined both him and Smitty both understanding their roles, is a real advantage for us."
And Dubnyk and Smith are not strangers. The two were teammates on Team Canada’s roster during the 2013 IIHF World Championship and they became friends over the course of the two-week tournament.
"I got to know 'Smitty' pretty well," said Dubnyk, a native of Regina, Sask. "Obviously, that’s a long tournament over there and I’m excited that I get a chance to work (with) and learn from him as well. He does a lot of things, he’s a big guy, same kind of stature as me. There’s a lot that I can take from what he does."
The one thing that attracted Dubnyk to Arizona more than anything else was the opportunity to be under the tutelage of Burke, who in recent years has built a reputation of helping Coyotes goaltenders raise their game.
|Devan Dubnyk. Photo by Norm Hall. |
"We haven’t talked too much, he just said to me to compete and go play and we’ll build as camp goes on," Dubnyk said. "(Right now) It’s nice to be able to go out there and play and stop pucks, and there will be a lot of time to work on things with him and I’m looking forward to that."
Burke says that Dubnyk competing in training camp will help him build his confidence and from there he can build on the positives of his game.
"Obviously, you have to have the base, you have to have your game to be confident,” Burke said. "I think it’s just a matter of starting in training camp, getting a game plan together with him, getting him to feel better about the little parts of his game, and then the rest of it for these guys is just to go out and compete hard. Once he feels confident about his game the other stuff will come back to him."
With seven goaltenders in uniform at the start of training camp, Burke hasn’t had much one-on-one time with Dubnyk (6-foot-6, 210 pounds), but he sees plenty of positives in his game that can be built upon.
"I’m trying to really evaluate his game as a whole and I haven’t seen enough of everything yet, but what I do like, obviously, is his size," Burke said. "He moves well for a big guy. I think that he’s a guy with experience, so you can see that he reads the play well. There’s a lot of good things to his game, it’s just a matter of getting him confident and ready to go."
Despite the events of last season, Dubnyk believes his confidence already has returned.
"Everybody here knows me and has seen me play and knows how I play," said Dubnyk. "So, I don’t need to think for a second about what happened last year or if someone is questioning what I can do. It feels comfortable to just be back and be in a place where I feel like they’re confident with me."