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  • Minnesota Wild Season Preview: Goaltending


    The Minnesota Wild have three goaltenders on their roster, again. We went through this last year, after Niklas Backstrom had elbow surgery in the summer and couldn’t be bought out. It wasn’t an ideal situation, as it meant Kuemper often had to split practice time with Bakstrom, who didn’t play a single game with the Wild last season. However, this time around is a little different because the Wild aren’t simply stuck with a bad contract.

    Currently, the goalies on the Wild’s roster are Devan Dubnyk, Darcy Kuemper, and Alex Stalock. Going into training camp, the general consensus was that Stalock would be sent down to start in Iowa. The fact that he’s still in Minnesota raises some questions. Does GM Chuck Fletcher believe that Stalock will be taken if put on waivers? Could there be a possible trade in the works involving Kuemper? There’s not much to go on and there’s little reason to spend too much time wondering about it because the Wild can easily move the extra goalie.

    In any case, let’s assume the Wild will start the season with these three goaltenders. How do they look going into the season?

    The Dub Abides

    Dubnyk’s .918 Sv% and 2.33 GAA in a career high 67 games was a drop off from the previous season where he was nominated for the Vezina Trophy, but it was still a rather solid season for the Wild’s starting goaltender. What’s interesting about Dubnyk’s season is that at 5 on 5, he had a Sv% of .933, which was higher than such goaltenders as Ben Bishop, Brian Elliott, and even the 2016 Vezina winner, Braden Holtby. What brought Dubnyk’s Sv% down was his his play on the penalty kill, at .846 (49th out of 55 goalies with at least 100 short handed minutes).

    With a varying quality of defense in front of him, Dubnyk played three games in the preseason and had a Sv% of .922 and a GAA of 1.69. Going into the regular season, expect Dubnyk to have a lighter workload and to continue having adventures behind the net.

    The Kuemperor

    Once the possible future of Wild goaltending, Kuemper played only 21 games last season with a .915 Sv% and 2.43 GAA, which was a vast improvement over the previous season where he had a Sv% of .905 in 31 games. From what we’ve been told, Kuemper’s biggest issue has always been his confidence, but last season, he seemed better able to handle bad goals or tough losses and just generally keep focused.

    Granted the defense wasn’t always up to par, Kuemper had a Sv% of .860 and a GAA of 3.60 through two preseason games. Moving forward, Kuemper’s time with the Wild is probably limited. He likely either gets traded or walks in free agency next summer.

    The Bulldog

    Up until now, Stalock hasn’t had a great career. Since leaving the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where in 2009 he was part of a WCHA Final Five Championship Bulldog team, he’s been shuffled between the NHL and AHL. The best stretch of his professional career so far was in the 2013-2014 season, where he played 24 games and had a Sv% of .932 and a GAA of 1.87 for the San Jose Sharks. After being traded to the Leafs last season, Stalock signed a one year, two-way deal with the Wild to hopefully get his career on track.

    Granted the preseason isn’t worth much, Stalock played two games with a .968 Sv% and a 0.76 GAA. Barring injuries or a trade, I still think Stalock will find himself mostly in Iowa.

    Dubnyk likely won’t be a Vezina candidate next summer, Kuemper might not be the best backup goalie ever, and Stalock hopefully won’t get too many opportunities with the Minnesota Wild, but the Wild can rely on them to give generally solid goaltending throughout the season. It may be Monday, but at least we don’t have to wait long to find out how the Wild’s goaltending will shake out in the season, which is just days away.

    Regular season stats from Hockey Analysis and preseason stats from Fox Sports.

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