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There was a time several years ago when Kelly Hrudey wondered if Devan Dubnyk was going to be able to remain an NHL goalie.

Dubnyk’s game was in tatters during the 2013-14 season. His goals against average ballooned and his save percentage shrank as he went from Edmonton to Nashville to Montreal in a span of about seven weeks.

“I was unsure if he was going to be able to repair his game, frankly,” said Hrudey, the former Sharks goalie who is in his seventh year as an NHL analyst for Sportsnet.

Dubnyk then signed as a free agent with Arizona in the summer of 2014, worked tirelessly to reboot his career, received instruction and support from former Coyotes goalie coach Sean Burke, and went on to enjoy five straight stellar seasons, mostly with the Minnesota Wild.

From the 2013-14 season to the following year, Dubnyk improved his save percentage from .891 to .929, and his record of 11-18-3 to 36-14-4. He went from almost being out of the NHL to being a Vezina Trophy finalist the following year.

Today, Dubnyk once again has to show that he can still be a quality NHL goalie again after a difficult 2019-20 season. Even though he’s older, the road back for Dubnyk might not be nearly as treacherous as it was seven years ago.

Dubnyk’s off-ice issues involving his wife’s health, are, from all indications, in the rear-view mirror. After being one of the busiest goalies in the NHL, he’s also had several months to rest his body and get his mind right for this season. He’s been given a fresh start by the Sharks, who acquired him from the Wild in October.

Dubnyk could make his first start for the Sharks on Monday when they face the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center. It would be Dubnyk’s first start since March 8 of last year after Minnesota went exclusively with goalie Alex Stalock during its brief stay inside the NHL’s playoff bubble in Edmonton.

“He had an off year last year, but he wasn’t nearly as bad or off as he was with the Oilers organization,” Hrudey told this newspaper in October after the trade. “Yeah, there’s work to be done, for sure, but the curve isn’t quite as steep.”

At 34 and with 521 NHL regular season games to his credit, Dubnyk still feels he has something to prove. Dubnyk had a 12-15-1 record last season and his .890 save percentage was among the lowest of his career.

“I think more than anything I just want to play well for this group,” Dubnyk said. “We’ve been together here on our own for what feels like a long time. So I’ve got to know these guys well.”

Dubnyk, like all NHL goalies, didn’t get a chance to play in any preseason games to knock the rust off. He did see action in the Sharks’ intra-squad scrimmages in training camp, including one 60-minute scrimmage in which he allowed seven goals.

Dubnyk said Sunday he didn’t lose much sleep over that result, focusing now on what he needs to do once he gets in a game.

“You go out there every day and you start day one with the fundamentals and the things that you need to have in your game, myself, to be sharp and to give myself the best chance,” Dubnyk said. “Then you take those things and just try to get a little cleaner, a little sharper every day so you’re thinking about it less and less and having it a little more automatic.

“I’ve certainly felt that way as camp’s gone on. We’re out of that now so it’s time to go.”

There are a few reasons why general manager Doug Wilson brought Dubnyk to the Sharks.

One was presumably because Dubnyk only had one year left on his contract that carries a $4.33 million cap hit for this season, half of which was retained by the Wild. That gives prospect goalie Alexei Melnichuk, 22, more time to develop and get used to North American game.

San Jose Sharks’ Evander Kane, left, shoots against Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk (40) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) 

Another was because goalie coach Evgeni Nabokov felt Dubnyk still had the attributes necessary to be great: He had been a No. 1 goalie for several years and could come in and realistically compete with Martin Jones for the top spot.

The organizational hope is that Dubnyk can push Jones — signed for another three years after this one — to be better, although both goalies will likely see a fair amount of playing time early in the season.

“I think the most important thing is to have a great relationship and just be support there,” Dubnyk said of the goalie tandem. “If (Jones) wants to come talk about a play or joke about something or whatever, we’ve got to stick together, the two of us.

“I always said there’s only two guys in the room that know what it’s like to be a goalie, so you’ve got to be there for each other.”

Dubnyk’s future in the NHL past this season might depend on how he uses this opportunity with the Sharks. If he plays well, he’ll likely get another contract elsewhere. If he doesn’t, he might be scrambling to stay in the league.

He’s responded well to that kind of situation before.

“I think everybody’s rooting for him to find his game again,” Hrudey said. “He had five really great years with Minnesota and last year was just a plain, old down year for many reasons.

“Everybody knows that Devan is going to put in the work to try and get his game back. He’s 34 years old, so this isn’t a long term solution for the Sharks. But certainly for at least two good years, he going to be back to where he was for those five great years with Minnesota.”