As already covered by Gone Puck Wild writers earlier, Minnesota announced today that forwards Stephane Veilleux, Jake Dowell and Nick Palmieri and defenseman Steven Kampfer were placed on waivers for the purpose of reassigning them to the Wild’s minor league affiliate. The Wild’s oft-injured 2002 8th overall draft pick, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, has also been officially removed from the injured reserve list and is ready to go for Saturday night’s season opener against the division rival Colorado Avalanche.
With the activation of Bouchard, and the demotion of Veilleux, Dowell and Palmieri, the Wild currently has 13 forwards listed on their season-opening roster. The 13th member of the forward group—Matt Kassian—is far from unlucky as his status would seem to suggest. The 6’5” 247-pound enforcer brings much needed force and grit to a highly talented roster in need of protection and will help relieve some of that burden off of newly acquired forward Zenon Konopka and gritty blue-liners Justin Falk and Clayton Stoner.
Perhaps the biggest news of the day for Minnesota is that their top pick in 2012, defenseman Mathew Dumba, has managed to last another day. In fact, he may last a lot longer than anyone—including himself—may think. Wild GM Chuck Fletcher and head coach Mike Yeo have enough faith and confidence in the 2012 7th overall pick that they have named him to Minnesota’s season-opening roster. Certainly a large factor contributing to this would be the slight injury to Tom Gilbert and the uncertainty as to when promising young blue-liners Marco Scandella and Jonas Brodin will return. As of right now, Minnesota’s defensive pairs and 7th man are drawn up like so:
Does Dumba get a shot on opening night? If Gilbert isn’t 100%, there’s no reason to see why he doesn’t. The dynamic young defenseman would also man Gilbert’s power play point quite well on the second unit. Dumba will likely play his five game cup of coffee before going back to Red Deer of the Western Hockey League, but he’ll gain invaluable experience during his time in Minnesota that will certainly serve him well as he completes his junior career. When asked by Michael Russo of the StarTribune on Matt Dumba staying with Minnesota (at least for now) head coach Mike Yeo was quick to say “he’s earned it.” No one can doubt that; the explosive young offensive defenseman has played a smart, simple game in camp with crisp, accurate passes and smart plays in all areas of the ice while staying true to his strengths—heavy shots and even heavier hits. The “Dumba Train” is coming to St. Paul and it may be there sooner than you think.