It’s do-able, but it will require some finesse.
Like many teams this offseason, the Wild have almost no wiggle room under the salary cap. Dubnyk wants to stay, as his career was rejuvenated after being traded to Minnesota this season.
But he’s not going to play for peanuts, either. Not after a season that netted him a Vezina Trophy nomination, his .929 save percentage ranked second to Hart and Vezina Trophy nominee Carey Price.
So wherein lies the soft spot for both sides to get a deal that makes sense? That’s what veteran agent Mike Liut and Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher have to figure out.
"That’s the goal on both sides, we’ve started the process," Fletcher told ESPN.com Wednesday. "I’m certainly hopeful, but it takes a little bit of time to get everything in place, there’s a lot of moving pieces. But the dialogue has been good, we’ll see what transpires."
Liut understands the Wild’s cap issues but also hopes to find a way to keep his client in a place where the player is happy. The deal has to make sense, though.
"There’s always impediments to getting to an agreement, particularly in the free-agent/salary cap world," Liut told ESPN.com Wedesday. "But Devan, playing in Minnesota, you want that kind of success, you want to play in an environment where you have that and you want to build off it."
The cap is barely going up -- commissioner Gary Bettman reiterated a ballpark figure of $71 million last week -- is making life difficult on a number of teams. It’s no different for the Wild.
The key for Minnesota is to find a way to get rid of Niklas Backstrom's $3.4 million cap hit; he’s got one more year left on his deal. But he’s hurt right now, which would seem to indicate that he’s not a candidate for a buyout. Perhaps a trade is the best route, who knows. The Wild are looking at all their options.
The plan is for the dialogue to continue between Liut and Fletcher. The two will also meet at the NHL draft in Sunrise, Florida. But the free-agency window will have opened that weekend, which allows other teams to call. Dubnyk will surely find other suitors interested in talking to him.
But the grass isn’t always greener. This past season, Dubnyk re-discovered himself in Minnesota on a good team with a good coach. He wants that to continue. It’s up to the Wild to find a deal he can live with.