July 05 2012 07:44PM
With the two-year deal the Edmonton Oilers just gave him, Devan Dubnyk could walk away from hockey in the summer of 2014 and never play another NHL game and he'd have more money in his jeans than you or I will make in a lifetime.
Having bumped Dubnyk's salary from $800,000 a season to $3.5 million a year through 2013-14, that's not the plan, of course. Money talks, and the Oilers have given a clear indication they don’t expect the six-foot-five puck stopper to be going anywhere anytime soon. That will play out in the next 24 months.
Simply put, the contract tendered Dubnyk is extremely generous, and then some. Plain and simple, it's an overpay to a restricted free agent who has yet to establish himself as a bonafide No. 1 goaltender. I'm not saying Dubnyk can’t or won't do so, because the former Kamloops Blazers is clearly a better option than the fading Nikolai Khabibulin. I'm simply saying he hasn’t done it yet.
Whether the contract is a touch rich or not, the price point GM Steve Tambellini and the front office pegged Dubnyk at sends a message to him and the team in front of him – the Oilers are confident he can and will be the go-to guy in the blue paint moving forward.
That vote of confidence hasn't been lost on the 26-year-old Dubnyk, who went 20-23-3 with a 2.67 goals-against average and a .914 saves percentage in 47 games (42 starts) last season. In 101 NHL games with the Oilers, Dubnyk is 36-43-13 with a 2.85 GAA and .910 saves percentage.
READY TO GO
"It's a huge boost of confidence," said Dubnyk, who has gone from making really good money and being single to making really great money and being married in the last couple of weeks. "It's very important to get that faith and that backing from the team. They certainly showed that. It's just exciting going forward."
My first inclination is that faith in Dubnyk is well-founded and that the message sent is justified. That guarantees nothing, of course, but I don't see the commitment by the Oilers as a shot in the dark, even if it's $1 million or so more a season than I'd have put on the table. It's not my money.
Given the statement the contract makes, Dubnyk will be the clear-cut No. 1 guy ahead of Khabibulin and that will likely translate to 55-60 games this coming season playing behind a team that should be markedly better than he's stood in for since breaking into the line-up in 2009-10.
Dubnyk has the ball, and the money, now. I'd be willing to bet he runs with it rather than walking anywhere two years from now. My guess is Dubnyk will turn into that bonafide No. 1 stopper. How will he stack up in the big NHL picture? I don't know. That, as is always the case, is up to him.
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