June 25, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) It's summer, so the Minnesota Wild must be trying to solve their goaltending situation again.

General manager Chuck Fletcher's goal, no pun intended, is to keep the stability in the net that was missing until Devan Dubnyk arrived.

Injuries and ineffectiveness have forced the Wild into starting six different goalies over the last two seasons, an issue so obviously in the spotlight that even Fletcher has resorted to gallows humor as a way to vent frustration.

''We'd like to have four or five goalies every year play in the NHL,'' Fletcher said sarcastically, when asked this week to assess the situation.

Really, they'd prefer to bring Dubnyk back as the unquestioned starter and go from there. Dubnyk, whose 1.78 goals-against average after his acquisition in a trade with Arizona guided the Wild to a 28-9-3 finish, can become an unrestricted free agent if he's not re-signed by Wednesday.

''He's earned that right through the CBA, and he will ultimately decide where he wants to play and for how much,'' Fletcher said. ''We think he was a very good fit for us, but we also feel we were a very good fit for him with our defensive structure.''

Dubnyk, who was awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the sport, was paid $800,000 last season. The market will likely command him a salary in the range of $5 million annually, and that would only put him in the middle of the pack of the money made by No. 1 goalies around the league.

''We're certainly aware of their goals and they're aware of ours, and I believe there's an ability there to get it done,'' Fletcher said.

The 29-year-old Dubnyk, who cost the Wild a third-round draft pick, has said often he doesn't want to leave.

''It's been a lot of fun for me and definitely the most fun I've had in my career,'' Dubnyk said last month after the Wild were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago.

The salary cap for the 2015-16 season was established at $71.4 million, which should give the Wild enough flexibility to get a deal done with Dubnyk. The complicated part is that the backups that weren't healthy or reliable enough when Fletcher felt compelled to make the trade, Darcy Kuemper ($1.5 million) and Niklas Backstrom ($4 million), are both under contract for another year. Bringing all three of them back is unlikely.

There's also the matter of a contract for center Mikael Granlund, their most important of the restricted free agents. The NHL draft takes place on Friday and Saturday, but Fletcher said he's not looking to make any trades for salary cap relief, having already initiated a buyout of left wing Matt Cooke. The Wild are confident in the depth they've developed on their forward lines and defensemen pairs.

''If we lose that, then I think we'll lose sort of the strength and the identity of our team,'' Fletcher said. ''So we want to keep our team.''

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