The San Jose Sharks have acquired 34-year-old goaltender Devan Dubnyk and a seventh-round selection in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft in exchange for a 2022 fifth-round selection from the Minnesota Wild. The Wild will also retain 50 percent of Dubnyk’s $4,333,333 cap hit for this season, the final year of the 6-year deal he signed with the Wild in 2015.
The goaltending change in Minnesota has been rumored for a few days now and Michael Russo, the most trusted man in the State of Hockey and Wild reporter for The Athletic, revealed that the trade talks did not just involve general managers Doug Wilson and Bill Guerin, but plenty of talks between the goaltender and both GMs. Russo made certain to note that “Wilson patiently worked with Dubnyk to ensure he felt comfortable with the trade.”
Dubnyk’s no-trade clause allowed the goaltender to create a 10 team no-trade list. The Sharks weren’t on the list, but that hardly seems surprising. San Jose is an easy sell when Wilson is known for doing things like making sure a player wants to join his team and taking care of their families. Even if the Sharks had a terrible 2019-20 campaign, those seasons have been the outliers in San Jose.
But is adding Dubnyk the solution?
It’s a tough goaltending market and the Sharks aren’t doing themselves any favors with both of their moveable netminders being Martin Jones and Aaron Dell. They couldn’t go into the next season with the same goaltenders and they’ll need nothing short of a miracle to get out from under the Martin Jones contract in a palatable way.
I would’ve preferred Darcy Kuemper, a legitimate and proven upgrade to either of Jones or Dell. Dubnyk wasn’t just bad last year, he was “lost his starting goaltending job to Alex Stalock — yes, that Alex Stalock, whom the Sharks replaced with James Reimer in 2016” bad. Banking on a comeback, given his injury history and also if we’re being honest, his playing history, is a real gamble the Sharks are taking.
At 50 percent salary and for one year, though? That’s not the end of the world. Maybe the Sharks will be bad for one more very weird and compressed year of hockey. Will two bad former starters with smaller workloads average out to a halfway decent goaltending tandem? Eh, maybe.
The smallest bit of hope I have about it is that it seems like Evgeni Nabokov was involved in this decision. This paragraph from Russo seems encouraging:
But Dubnyk is excited for the new opportunity. Sharks goalie coach Evgeny Nabokov was apparently a big proponent of adding Dubnyk, and Dubnyk also works with Adam Francilia, the so-called “goalie whisperer” who’s on retainer with the Sharks.
The most important thing about this trade is that Doug Wilson gave up very little to make it happen, which in a vacuum feels good. But I’m also not sure it’s a case where Wilson didn’t want to give up too much, but that the Sharks have very little to give outside of their core. Doug Wilson might be going into the goaltending market, but realistically, what is he offering up in return?
They had to make a change. The change they can afford is a gamble with not-great odds, but has a one-year shelf life and it’s cheap. It sounds like they’re hoping the goaltending coaches are a secret weapon.
So Sharks fans: how much do you trust in Nabokov?