EDMONTON, ALBERTA – Devan Dubnyk wasn’t the Wild’s starting goalie for the playoffs, getting passed over in favor of usual backup Alex Stalock, but Dubnyk will return for next season vying to reclaim the No.1 job.
“I’ve always tried to approach it like I want to be starting games and put in there because I’m the best option to be in there and I’m giving the guys a chance to win,” Dubnyk said Sunday on a video call. “Obviously, this year played out a little bit different than it has in the past. But I’m going to come in next year and mentally be ready to get back to playing and being that best option.
“That’s obviously not saying anything about any other goalies here. Just fully expecting and being competitive and being ready to get back to being the guy again.”
Like he has since he joined the team in 2015, Dubnyk began the season in the starter’s seat. But his absence to be with his wife, Jenn, while she dealt with a medical situation and his on-ice struggles opened the door for Stalock to get more minutes, and he took advantage — seizing the net in the second half to help the Wild get to the NHL’s 24-team postseason tournament.
“Al, obviously, did an extremely good job down the stretch to put us in that situation in the first place,” Dubnyk said. “So I understood that [there was] probably a good chance that he was going to get an opportunity, and I thought he played extremely well.”
While he acknowledged it was a challenge for him to get traction during the season, which he finished 12-15-2 with an .890 save percentage and 3.35 goals-against average, Dubnyk believes he’s still the same goalie he was in the past.
“It was just a strange year,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’m very competitive and fully prepared to come into camp next year ready to get back to playing the majority of the games.”
Ryan Suter injured his right foot when he got hit with a puck in the first period of Game 3 against the Canucks, the defenseman said Sunday.
It was the same foot where he had a severe ankle injury in 2018. He underwent an MRI in Edmonton, but the image didn’t show much since his foot was “pretty irritated.” Suter said he would have tried to play if the Wild forced a Game 5.
He’ll get evaluated by doctors Monday, but he is confident he’ll be ready to go for next season and is walking on the foot.
“It’s the worst feeling ever,” Suter said about missing Game 4. “You battle and prepare to be in situations like that and you’re not able to be in it. Then you see how the game is going and you know you could’ve helped. Then after the game to be around the guys is the worst feeling ever. You just feel like you let them down. I hate missing games, and I hate it because of that reason.”
Despite the finish, Suter still felt the Wild made strides during the season.
“Our middle-of-the-road guys really stepped up,” Suter said. “Kevin Fiala really showed everyone what he’s made of, and I expect him to be even better next year. It was a obviously tough way to end, but it was an experience that I think we all learned from and can definitely build off of.”
Eligible for extension
Fiala is eligible to sign a contract extension since he’s approaching the final season of his two-year, $6 million contract.
Asked if he’d explore a new deal if the Wild approached him about one, he said, “I haven’t thought about that, to be honest with you. I don’t know.”
The Wild has a 1-in-8 (12.5 percent) chance to win the top pick in the draft lottery Monday after a placeholder representing the eight teams eliminated in the qualifiers won the first phase of the lottery on June 26.
The draw will take place at 5 p.m. from NHL Network’s studio in New Jersey, and the seven teams not picked will be ranked in inverse order of their points percentages at the time the regular season paused.
If the Wild doesn’t win the lottery, it will select ninth because it has the lowest points percentage among the teams that lost in the qualifiers.