In a 2012 draft that will long be remembered for its defensemen, Regina, Saskatchewan native Mathew Dumba would be the fifth of eight taken in the top ten when the Minnesota Wild tabbed him with their top selection at 7th overall.
According to Elite Prospects, Dumba is described as:
A quite spectacular defenseman that combines offensive skills and speed with a strong physical game. Has a cannon of a shot from the blue and puts up points on regular basis. Is an impressive open ice hitter and will be even better with additional muscle mass. Defensive play could use some fine tuning. Has leadership qualities.
As you can see, there’s a lot in that description that would make any NHL GM more than happy to pull the trigger on such a tantalizing prospect.
After signing a three-year entry level deal with the Wild, Dumba spent the 2012-13 season with the Western Hockey League’s Red Deer Rebels, scoring 16 goals and 26 assists for 42 points and a plus-10 rating in 62 games. It certainly wasn’t bad for a defenseman, but it was a considerable decrease in offensive production from the 20 goals and 37 assists for 57 points he had scored in 69 games played during his draft year.
Dumba started the 2013-14 season with the Wild, playing in 13 games while scoring a power play goal and an assist for two points and a negative-5 rating. He would spend a lot of time in the press box and would likely have been returned to major juniors if it wasn’t for the questionable health of Minnesota’s defense, which seemed to fluctuate daily. As a 19-year old player that had just barely missed Team Canada’s U-20 WJHC team each of the past two seasons, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher felt his participation in the tournament would be beneficial for his development.
After a disappointing tournament for Dumba and Canada, he would be sent back to the WHL–this time to the Portland Winterhawks, who had acquired his rights in a deal with Red Deer. In five games since, the dynamic two-way defender has scored two goals and four assists for six points and a plus-10 rating. What’s more–Portland has yet to lose with him in the lineup.
While it’s highly unlikely that little trivia tidbit translates to the NHL level, there’s no question Dumba’s time both in the NHL and on the international stage has given him the confidence to play at an elite level as far as major juniors are concerned. And if that translates into NHL success next season, Fletcher and the rest of the Wild brass couldn’t be happier.