The Minnesota Wild have invited their 2012 first round draft pick, Matthew Dumba to training camp according to GM, Chuck Fletcher. The 18-year old who is currently playing for the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL, will leave his junior teammates in hopes of finding a new home in the Twin Cities. But is his invite merely protocol or does he have a legit shot at making the club?
Michael Russo of the Star Tribune expects Dumba to arrive in town by Friday with camp set to open sometime between Saturday and Monday. Russo describes Dumba as a hard-hitting defenceman who has an upside in the offensive zone. Currently with Red Deer, Dumba has 10 goals and 23 points in 41 games. Last season he registered 57 points in 69 games.
Recently Dumba was dealt a blow when he was cut from Team Canada’s junior squad. We examined his chances of making the club and granted this was a tough year for an 18-year old to make the team given the NHL talent that was available, Dumba was the final cut despite being a highly sought after d-man.
Interestingly enough, one reader of Gone Puck Wild was kind enough to share his inside scoop on Dumba after watching him play in Red Deer for the past couple seasons. The reader was quick to point out that this season, Dumba has been a disappointment and wonders if the bright lights of the NHL draft have him blindsided by what his priorities are this season.
Russo also writes about the slow start for Dumba but quickly notes that he’s turned it around since the Rebels made an assistant coaching change, which makes you wonder if his attitude got in the way prior to the change.
Given the nature of the Wild’s depleted blueline, Dumba has a legitimate shot at sticking with the club after training camp breaks, even if it’s for the nine games he’s allowed before the Wild can send him back to junior or keep him for the year. Of course his play in the brief training camp will be the main evaluation process but look for him to stick around for the first few games of the regular season. Fear of injuries will be top of mind for all NHL clubs and having extra bodies around to help alleviate the top defenceman from logging too much ice time will surely be a play the Wild will consider.
Any other year Dumba would be invited to camp and would spend a considerable amount of time with the Wild organization. But with a shortened camp the invite appears to be something more than just standard protocol; Dumba may have a legitimate shot at sticking with the Wild, at least for a little while.
Russo also notes that the Wild have set no limits with Dumba meaning he could do what so few 18-year olds have done and that is make the NHL the year after the draft. Will he defy the odds and the critics? Time will tell for Matthew Dumba and the Minnesota Wild.