EDMONTON - The Edmonton Oilers gave Devan Dubnyk a belated wedding present on Thursday.
Less than two weeks after the goaltender signed a lifetime contract with his then fiancee, he came to terms on a two-year deal with his hockey club.
The Oilers also locked up defenceman Jeff Petry, who himself is getting married this weekend.
“It’s always a tense time, I guess, trying to negotiate a new deal,” said Dubnyk of his contract with the club. “This is certainly the place I want to be and it’s great to have that faith from the organization. It’s good to know that they have the confidence in me and have that backing, knowing they want me to be a starter. I’m excited for the responsibility.”
Dubnyk’s two-year deal will pay him $3.5-million each season, a healthy upgrade from the $800,000 he made with the Oilers the previous two years.
Petry, 24, will make $1.75-million each season for the next two years.
“They’re two great guys and they’re both close friends of mine, so I’m really happy they’re both coming back,” said Oilers winger Ryan Jones. “I compare Dubbie to another goalie I used to play with in Pekka Rinne. He’s a big guy, an athletic guy who covers a lot of the net.
“I’ve told him that before and he seems primed and ready to have the season that he wants to have, and the season that we need him to have in order to be successful. He’s a heck of a goaltender and he can do that.”
There was never any real doubt the Oilers would re-sign Dubnyk, who went into the off-season as a restricted free agent.
The only question was the type of commitment the Oilers were willing to make to their goaltender.
“This is obviously the biggest deal I’ve ever done, so it was exciting,” said Dubnyk. “I’ve been trying not to think about it too much and it just kind of came together over the last few days.
“It was nerve-racking a little bit, but I’m happy.”
It’s been a long road for Dubnyk, who was originally selected by the Oilers in the first round — 14th overall — of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
The Regina product spent another two seasons in junior following his draft, then started his professional career with the Oilers ECHL affiliate in Stockton, Calif.
After his one-year stint in Stockton, Dubnyk, 26, went on to play the better parts of three seasons with the Springfield Falcons before eventually making the jump to the Oilers at the start of the 2010-2011 campaign.
“It’s crazy to think back, it was a long process, and it was a long time, but I certainly don’t regret any point in the process,” Dubnyk said. “I’m here now and I feel good. Who knows? I might have needed every single step along the way. This definitely makes it worth it.”
Last season, Dubnyk played in 47 games, posting a 20-20 record with a 2.67 goals against average and a .914 save percentage.
He took over the starter’s role towards the midway point of the season from Nikolai Khabibulin and is expected to come into training camp as the team’s No. 1 goaltender.
With Dubnyk under contract, the Oilers goaltending situation is set for the upcoming year. Khabibulin will be back to play out the final year of his contract, while the club secured the services of Yann Danis last week.
“I don’t think much will change going into training camp this year as far as the things I do to prepare for the season,” Dubnyk said. “But I think the way I feel will change more from getting a chance to play a lot during the last half of the year.
“I feel pretty good in my game and it was good for me getting a chance to play all those games last year.”
Notes: Along with Petry and Dubnyk, the Oilers also signed free-agent left-winger Dane Byers. The six-foot-three, 204-pound product of Nipawin, Sask., spent the majority of last season with the Columbus Blue Jackets AHL affiliate in Springfield, scoring 16 goals and adding 23 assists with 108 penalty minutes in 61 games.