Change may be imminent between the pipes at Xcel Energy Center as Minnesota Wild General Manager Bill Guerin refused to back the goalies who started the majority of games for his club in the pandemic-shaken 2019-20 season.
Devan Dubnyk's struggles led to Alex Stalock starting all four games of Minnesota's best-of-five qualifying series loss to Vancouver, and the overall results of the duo – Minnesota was 24th in goals allowed and 29th in save percentage in the regular season – are not enough to encourage Guerin to commit to either player when the 2020-21 season starts in December.
"No. The hierarchy is not clear. I was disappointed in the goaltending this year," said Guerin. "Al [Stalock] had a tremendous year and Devan had an off year and it needs to be better, that's just the way it is. If I told you anything different I'd be lying to you. It was not a strong point for us."
Guerin wouldn't commit to guaranteeing Dubnyk or Stalock a spot on the roster next season.
"If I have an opportunity to make it better I will. But I'm also confident that if those guys come back they're going to be battling for a spot. We've also got Kaapo Kahkonen pushing. It just has to be better. Flat out. I can't promise anybody a spot," he said.
One change that has already been made is the Wild parting ways with goaltending coach Bob Mason, who has held the job with the Wild for 18 seasons.
The top in-house option to start next season, other than Dubnyk and Stalock, is the AHL Goalie of the Year, Iowa Wild prospect Kaapo Kahkonen, who led the AHL in wins (25) and shutouts (7).
Kahkonen is considered Minnesota's future No. 1 goalie and he flashed his long-term potential by going 3-1-1 in four starts at the NHL level this season. The 23-year-old also set the franchise rookie record with 44 saves in a Dec. 3 road victory over the Florida Panthers.
In the AHL, Kahkonen posted a 2.07 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.
Dubnyk could be bought out by the Wild. According to CapFriendly, it would cost Minnesota about $2.67 million next season and around $833,000 the following year to buyout the final year of his contract.
"We're just going to have to improve the team. That starts today," said Guerin.