Minnesota Wild Returns Mathew Dumba to Portland


Oct 28, 2013; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Mathew Dumba (55) against the Chicago Blackhawks at Xcel Energy Center. The Blackhawks defeated the Wild 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

It was only a matter of time.

According to the team’s website, the Minnesota Wild has loaned rookie defenseman Mathew Dumba to the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.

Originally a Red Deer Rebel, Dumba’s WHL rights were traded to Portland prior to the recently completed 2014 U-20 WJHC. Dumba would collect an assist, 12 penalty minutes and a plus-4 rating in seven games as Canada finish fourth in the tournament.

In 199 career WHL games with Red Deer, the 7th overall pick of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft has scored 51 goals and 76 assists for 127 points, 234 penalty minutes and a plus-27 rating–not bad for a defenseman. In 13 games with the Wild this season, Dumba would score a power play goal and an assist for two points, two penalty minutes and a negative-5 rating while seeing limited action. Now, he’ll be playing top minutes in one of the toughest junior leagues in the world and will likely see a very deep playoff run that is only going to enhance and quicken his development.

On the 2014 Sochi Olympics front, Wild centers Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund have been named to the Finnish Olympic hockey team. Koivu, who is recovering from ankle surgery, is targeting a return date of early February. If he’s healthy by then, the question he’ll have to answer is whether or not he wants to save his strength for a playoff push (if the Wild are even still in the hunt by that point) or represent his country–probably as team captain–on the game’s greatest stage.

Finland wasn’t the only country to unveil its Olympic hockey roster. Canada and Sweden also announced their final rosters.

While it’s not unexpected, Wild goalie Josh Harding was left off Team Canada. In 29 games, Minnesota’s No. 1 goalie has notched an 18-7-3 record, a .933 save percentage, a league-best 1.65 goals against average and three shutouts. Had health not been an issue this season, Harding–who has multiple sclerosis–could have had the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goaltender in the bag. Depending on how soon he gets to feeling better and off IR, he could still be a serious contender for the award.

What does come as somewhat of a surprise is Team Sweden’s snub of Wild No. 2 defenseman Jonas Brodin.

Drafted 10th overall by the Wild in 2011, Brodin was described by many as “good defensively, but not physical or offensive whatsoever”. Well, that was cute. Brodin came onto the NHL season last year, taking many hardened players, coaches and analysts by surprise with his maturity, skating ability and defensive prowess on the way to being named to the league’s All-Rookie Team. This year, while he has partially regressed defensively (something even the best defensemen run into every now and then) he has stepped up his offensive production big time, scoring seven goals and seven assists for 14 points and an even plus-minus rating in 41 games.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough for him to make Team Sweden, though it sounds like he’ll be the one they call if one of Erik Karlsson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alexander Edler, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Johnny Oduya, Niklas Hjalmarsson or Henrik Tallinder go down with an injury. Brodin joins Victor Hedman, Tobias Enstrom amd Hampus Lindholm as notable Swedish NHL blue liners to not make the cut.

If nothing else, he can take solace in the fact that it’s likely the first and last Olympic snub he’ll receive in his professional hockey career.