With the news that Nashville Predators goaltender Devan Dubnyk was put on waivers earlier this afternoon, it’s safe to say that his time as a Predator is drawing to a close. Pekka Rinne has finished his conditioning stint and is now back with the club, hoping to start on Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. With their star goalie back and Carter Hutton shouldering most of the load in his stead, there is no room for Dubnyk.
The 27-year-old was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 15 in exchange for Matt Hendricks. The move was considered an overwhelming win for Nashville, because not only did they get a decent netminder who could be a stopgap until Rinne returned, they also unloaded Hendricks’ salary — $1.8 million AAV over four years for a player playing fourth-line minutes and owning the worst possession stats on the team.
Despite his generally average stats, Dubnyk had struggled this year in Edmonton. Many blamed the inexperienced and atrocious defense for that, as he was not the only goaltender to falter. The thought process was behind a better defensive corps (and Nashville is famous for being a defense first team) he would be able to find his groove and maybe play to a new contract. But he only got two starts and did not look good in either of them, allowing nine goals on 60 shots with an .850 save percentage.
He should have gotten more, though. While Hutton seemed to have the trust of management, Dubnyk is a more experienced (and overall better) player. It’s tough for any player to transition to a new team, but that’s especially so for a goaltender coming to a team where they have to be almost perfect to win every night. Unfortunately for Dubnyk, his first start came on the first night a Predators had ever scored four goals in a game. They still lost. Whether it’s fair or not, he may have lost his opportunity that quickly.
At this point, why they traded for him doesn’t matter now. If Dubnyk clears waivers, he will be sent down to Nashville’s AHL team in Milwaukee. After the trade deadline on Wednesday, it’s possible for him to rejoin the club as there is no limit on the number of players on the roster then. It may be a good insurance policy just in case something doesn’t go right with Rinne, but it’s a long shot. Realistically, Dubnyk will just be a small footnote on a terrible season in Music City — one that he should have been a bigger part of.