After losing goalies to injury and recall over the last few weeks, the Checkers went in search of some depth in the crease.
That search ultimately turned up a three-time NHL All Star.
Devan Dubnyk signed a professional tryout with the Checkers on Tuesday, bringing with him over 500 NHL games and a trove of accolades.
“I’m just super excited to come here,” said Dubnyk. “I’ve been sitting at home for a while so I’m looking forward to getting down and having some fun and playing some games with these guys.”
After a six-year stint with the Minnesota Wild, Dubnyk began last season with the San Jose Sharks before being traded to Colorado to finish out the campaign. The 35-year-old then entered this season without a contract, but an offer to represent his country got the ball rolling for the vet.
“I was asked in November and given the opportunity to go to the Spengler Cup and was trying to skate,” said Dubnyk, referencing the annual tournament in Switzerland that kicks off the day after Christmas. “But obviously nothing had come up. Then I got the call from Charlotte over the weekend. The process was pretty quick, actually.”
Even for someone with as deep of a pedigree as Dubnyk, transitioning into a game-ready mentality takes plenty of hard work.
“It’s going to be strange, it’s been a while,” said Dubnyk. “You just work as hard as you can at practice and really concentrate on details and little things. The only way to get used to playing the game is playing the game. When I go in there I’ll just try to compete and have fun and not put too much pressure on myself. You can’t be expecting to go out and get a shutout, but if you go out and have fun and not think about it it’s certainly possible.”
From the Checkers’ side, shoring up their crease with someone of Dubnyk’s caliber is certainly a positive addition, one that they hope translates into the team’s continued success.
“You need depth at every position,” said Head Coach Geordie Kinnear. “Obviously we lost a couple goalies to Seattle and to injury, so you can never have enough depth. It’s an opportunity for him and it’s an opportunity for our group to get to know Devan. It’s a win-win.”
For Dubnyk, this stint with the Checkers could very well be the first step in a return to the NHL level - letting him work his game up and showcase himself for teams who find themselves in midseason need.
But the netminder is taking it one step at a time.
“It’s a possibility for sure,” said Dubnyk. “You have to start somewhere. For me right now, I’m not thinking about that too much, I thought about the next couple of weeks here and I just want to come down and work and have some fun with these guys and really enjoy it. We can reevaluate and see where we’re looking after that.”
In the end, the Checkers added a netminder with a drive to get better and a wealth of high-level experience to the mix, and the results should be beneficial for all parties involved.
“He’s here to contribute and also to get his game to where he wants it,” said Kinnear. “We’re all working together to get to that level and we’re looking forward to having him as part of our group.”