Well, FanSided/Gone Puck Wild/WordPress was not the friend of our writers yesterday.
As such, you missed my article, which turned out to be time sensitive, meaning by the time I was able to publish it, it was outdated. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t still be an interesting read. In fact, it may apply now more than ever with last night’s injury to Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner.
That said, enjoy the read:
The Minnesota Wild will once again be without the services of defenseman Keith Ballard.
After suffering an upper body injury in Tuesday night’s game, Ballard did not travel with the team to Washington. As such, Elk River, Minnesota native Nate Prosser finds himself back in the lineup, and deservedly so, having notched two assists and a plus-3 rating in five games this season. That said, Matt Dumba–the 7th overall pick of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft–is still enjoying the view from the press box.
At this point, you have to wonder what’s better for Dumba’s development: NHL practices or top ice time in what’s arguably the best major junior league in the world? There’s no question he’s benefitting from his time spent with the Wild’s players and coaching staff, but it’s important for a young guy to get quality ice time. Even if he does play in Minnesota, it’s not likely to be top minutes or even just quality time–that’s Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin’s job. With that in mind, it may be better for him to return to Red Deer to play one more season.
However, Minnesota’s defensive depth (or lack of it with Ballard constantly rotating in and out of the lineup) is what’s keeping the Wild brass from sending him back. What happens if another blue liner goes down? There’s already a very real possibility of Brodin re-aggravating his facial injury as it is. If Ballard can’t stay in the lineup and another defenseman goes down, it’s either Matt Dumba or someone from Iowa.
That right there is what has been delaying a decision on the Dumba front. If Minnesota isn’t willing to return him, the youngster’s developmental need for playing time is what will ultimately force them to play him and burn off the first year of his entry level deal. That could happen sooner than you think.
Depending on how Stoner feels tomorrow, Dumba could very well play his 10th game tomorrow night against the Carolina Hurricanes.
On the plus side, top line left winger Zach Parise appears to be good to go after taking a shot off his wrist late in last night’s 3-2 shootout loss to Braden Holtby and the Washington Capitals. That’s wonderful news, especially considering how dominant both (that’s right–I said both) Minnesota’s first and second lines have been of late. Parise and Koivu have really stepped it up, Pominville’s been brilliant on the second line and 2010 first round picks Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund have stepped right into the lineup as legitimate top-6 forwards in their sophomore seasons.
Minnesota is 6-1-1 in their last eight games, folks; there’s a lot to be excited about right now.