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Dubnyk Hopes to Regain Form with Coyotes

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE – Goalie Devan Dubnyk is hoping to jump-start his NHL career with a team he knows quite well.

"I’ve played a lot of games against the Coyotes and seeing how well structured they are and the type of game that they play, it’s exciting for me to have a chance to be a part of it."

The Coyotes signed Dubnyk to a one-year contract on Tuesday. He replaces Thomas Greiss as the backup to starter Mike Smith; Greiss, a free agent, signed with Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

Photo by Getty Images.

Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney said Dubnyk, who is 6-foot-6, was the team’s first choice to replace Greiss.

"If you look at our history, we've had good luck helping that bigger goalie find his game," Maloney said, referring to Ilya Bryzgalov and Smith.

Dubnyk, whom Edmonton selected with the 14th overall pick in the 2004 NHL Draft, played 171 games for the Oilers before being traded to Nashville at the end of last season. He won just 11 of 34 games in 2013-14, and his .891 save percentage was his lowest since his rookie season.

"I don't think anybody would argue he had a tough season last year but when we look at his body of work, his history, he has been a No. 1 goalie in this league," Maloney said. "We just thought with our system and … with Sean Burke's tutelage, we can get him back to where his career is on track and provide very good support for Mike Smith."

Dubnyk already has spoken with Burke about trying to regain his form.

"As soon as I started talking about a deal with the Coyotes I was very excited about the opportunity and figured that this would be the best chance for me," Dubnyk said. "And Sean and I had a good talk. We talked about how it’s about working hard and buying in to what we need to do. It’s going to be a positive approach. He’s obviously a guy who cares and wants his goalies to do well, and that’s an extremely important part of it. I’m excited to get a chance to work with him and get back on track, and hopefully get my game even better than it was before."

Devan Dubnyk and Mike Smith. Photo by Norm Hall.

Dubnyk also has communicated with Smith about becoming teammates. It’s nothing new for them; they were Team Canada’s two goalies at the 2013 IIHF World Championship.

"I’ve always found it extremely important to have a real good relationship with my partner and one that’s based on support for each other," Dubnyk said. "I’ve always said 'There’s only two guys in the room who know what it’s like to play goalie' so you’d better have each other’s backs."

He added, "I understand ‘Smitty’ will be playing the bulk of the games and he will be a huge part of our success this year. Obviously, I like to play games and want to play games. I still want to be a starting goalie someday but the situation is after having a year like I did last year I just want to get my game back on track and be part of the group success."

Dubnyk is excited that former Oilers teammate Sam Gagner will be joining him as a new guy in Arizona. The two are pals; Dubnyk said he would be attending Gagner’s wedding later this month.

"It’s a bonus for me having Sam join the Coyotes, too," Dubnyk said. "When I saw that trade go down that’s when interest picked up a little bit so I texted him and said 'Hey, keep your fingers crossed, we might be teammates again!'"

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