If you’re the Minnesota Wild, what do you pay goaltender/savior/pending unrestricted free agent Devan Dubnyk? And how quickly should you lock him up?
We haven’t seen much in terms of numbers on the goaltender, but the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Mike Russo gives this nightmare situation for the Wild at the June 24 Las Vegas awards, where Dubnyk is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.
Via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Dubnyk is still Priority No. 1. The Wild needs to know how much he’ll cost in order to know how to make all the other pieces fit this offseason. It’ll be pretty awkward if he’s in Vegas representing the Wild for the Vezina and Masterton with Fletcher in attendance and a Wild PR guy accompanying if he’s unsigned and prepping to potentially meet with other teams in the free-agent interview period.
Yeah, that would be super-awkward. There's a Vegas joke in there somewhere. Wait, no there isn't. It's just awkward.
There’s also the major issue of still having Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper under contract for one more year each. We all knew goaltending was going to be a problem for Minnesota this year and it would have to probably be addressed in a mid-season trade.
But nobody could have predicted Dubnyk – a guy who couldn’t beat out Carter Hutton in Nashville a year ago – saving the season in such prolific fashion. In 39 games with the Wild he had a 1.78 goals against average and .936 save percentage.
As ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun notes, getting rid of Backstrom makes the most sense. But considering his cap hit, age and current injured status, it would take some real magic by Wild GM Chuck Fletcher to do so.
The key for Minnesota is to find a way to get rid of Niklas Backstrom’s $3.4 million cap hit; he’s got one more year left on his deal. But he’s hurt right now, which would seem to indicate that he’s not a candidate for a buyout. Perhaps a trade is the best route, who knows. The Wild are looking at all their options.
And via Russo, there’s the Kuemper question, which is actually a pretty big deal.
Kuemper is 25 and a potential future No. 1. If you’re re-signing Dubnyk for multiple years and basically saying Kuemper is no longer the “goalie of the future” here, do you want to try to maximize Kuemper’s trade value this summer rather than having a 25-year-old caddying Dubnyk and playing sporadically? How does that hamper his development?
Looking at the particulars, it makes sense for the 29-year-old Dubnyk to stay in Minnesota. He resurrected his career there, put up incredible numbers with the Wild. He also gets to play in front of Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin. But unfortunately for Minnesota, they need to make it work on their end.
This is a case where the Wild will definitely overpay for Dubnyk. He has all the leverage.
Hate to play this game with players who signed their contracts in different years, but if Corey Crawford is worth $6 million per-year over six years and has never been up for a major individual award – though you can make a Conn Smythe argument for him in 2013 – what will Dubnyk command?
This isn’t going to be easy for the Wild, and the clock is ticking … both towards the awards and July 1 when Dubnyk is slated to hit the open market.
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