LAS VEGAS -- The media availability for players honored at the NHL Awards was mostly a breeze for the league's stars. It was a chance to look back at the season that landed them in Vegas, chat about summer plans and discuss hopes for next year.
There wasn’t a lot of news to be had.
Then there was goaltender Devan Dubnyk.
He’s the rare award finalist who also isn’t sure where he’s going to be playing next season. So the tone of his conversation with the media was a little different because everyone was looking for a clue for what might happen next in contract talks with the Minnesota Wild.
“It’s a unique situation,” said Dubnyk, a pending unrestricted free agent who can start talking to other teams on Thursday. “It’s the cap space that is causing the problem. It’s not that they’re coming back and saying ‘If you want to be here, you have to take this. Sorry.’”
Dubnyk’s status as a Vezina Trophy finalist vaults him up to the top of the annual top 20 unrestricted free agent list, though it still doesn’t look likely that he’ll hit free agency.
Wild GM Chuck Fletcher plans on meeting with agent Mike Liut in Florida before the draft, and even with Thursday looming, he didn’t seem to be in a huge rush when we chatted after Tuesday’s GM meetings.
“It’s still pretty early in the process,” Fletcher said. “I’m looking forward to speaking to Mike [Liut] this week and getting his thoughts [about] where we’re at, and we’ll go from there. You can get a deal done in one conversation. There’s lots of time, really, to get a deal done.”
Dubnyk hasn’t hidden his desire to stay in Minnesota. The Wild clearly want him back and, considering he essentially saved their season, that’s a smart inclination.
After he was traded to the Wild, Dubnyk went 27-9-2 with a .936 save percentage. No, that’s not what we should expect from him over the course of his next contract, but even with his awful 2013-14 season, he has a career .914 save percentage. He’s a legitimate No. 1 and will get paid like it.
Fletcher wasn’t concerned about Dubnyk's expanding his options when Thursday’s negotiation window opens and doesn’t see that as a deadline to get a deal done.
“There’s no artificial deadlines,” Fletcher said. “At some point we’re going to have to either make it work or each find alternative plans.”
The rest of the top 20 UFAs:
2. Mike Green
Unless Green is willing to take a pay cut, a return to Washington is highly unlikely.