The difference between Vince Dunn, end of 2021 to the end of 2023, is night and day.
He was a depth defenseman on a Stanley Cup winning team, blossomed into a top pair defenseman on a Stanley Cup contending team. Back then, he had insulation behind Torey Krug, Colton Parayko, and Justin Faulk. Now, there is nobody else ahead of him.
He was making $1.8 million in a walk year with the Blues in 2020-21. He is now six million dollars richer, avoiding arbitration on a new four-year, $7.3 million annual deal agreed to in late July.
Dunn told 93.3 KJR-FM he had nowhere else to go.
“My heart was only in Seattle,” Dunn said on the Ian Furness Show, several days after agreeing to the extension. “I think the same on the management side of things. There's at least nothing that I know of, that there were trade talks, and never came from my side of the business, me or my agents. The hope was to get something long (and) done and I think both parties did a pretty good job of coming together and figuring it out. It was never a hostile conversation between the two parties.”
Dunn originally found out the deal was complete while competing in a golf tournament and said the negotiations were anything but contentious, yet preferring he said to avoid a difficult scene in the courtroom of arbitration, where mediation brings a rise in salary but at the expense of potential criticism from the opposing side, controlled by team management.
“I'm really thankful for that it didn't have to go to arbitration and things like that because can kind of get a little awkward in there,” Dunn told 93.3 KJR-FM. “I think the relationship that we built between each other has been so good and it would have sucked to interfere with that.”
“The opportunity that I had here to play for the team has been nothing short of great, and just want to keep rolling with that. By no means that I want to leave the team.”
Entering his seventh NHL season, the 26-year old blueliner is now a do-it-all, unwavering, and firm piece of the Kraken foundation after a team MVP season where he led in scoring for much of the year, after Andre Burakovsky was lost for the season in February with a groin injury. Dunn’s 14 goals, 64 points, and 50 assists smashed career highs.
However, the impact of leadership was a new attribute that Dunn embraced. Mark Giordano, leaving at the trade deadline two years ago, vacated top defensive role that Dunn targeted, and latched onto. He is inseparable from Adam Larsson as the team’s top defensive pairing, commanding a lion’s share of minutes. He’s the quarterback of the top Kraken power play unit, distributing to the flanks or getting shots through screens to create high-stress situations at the front of the net for opposing penalty kill units.
The bar is set higher for Dunn than in the past, who wouldn’t identify any individual goals, aside from steering clear of any regression in his game. Then there’s the Kraken, coming off a historical turnaround season which led to a Stanley Cup Playoff berth and a first round knockout of Colorado. The message for season three is pretty clear, telling the general media over a virtual news conference, that having a goal to make the playoffs “is very reasonable and very achievable.”
“The bar gets higher every year, the deeper you go into the playoffs," Dunn told 93.3 KJR-FM. "I think we definitely have a chip on our shoulder. I know that teams are not going to be taking us lightly coming into the next season. We need to prepare them for that, physically and mentally. I think the fans can expect the same performance that they saw last year. Guys are going to be doing the same things on the ice.”
“(The fans) can expect the same atmosphere coming into watching our games live. So I think we're just excited to get that first game going. That energy is going to be unmatched, like last season. So, we love being at home and we love that everything that we have in Climate Pledge Arena.”