After an impressive training camp, Matt Dumba is sticking with the Wild.
That’s the story out of Minnesota on Friday, as the Pioneer Press reports the 18-year-old defenseman — taken seventh overall at the 2012 Entry Draft — will open the year in the NHL and could make his debut on Saturday when the Wild host the Colorado Avalanche.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Dumba said. “It’s an awesome feeling to be here right now.”
The Wild will have five games to decide if Dumba will play out the year in the NHL, or be returned to his junior club in WHL Red Deer. The window for junior-eligible players is usually nine games, but has been reduced this year on account of the shortened schedule.
With defenseman Tom Gilbert nursing a groin injury, Dumba could play on Saturday, though it’s more likely he’ll stick around as the spare until the club’s other injured defensemen — Marco Scandella and Jonas Brodin — are ready to return.
As it stands, Minnesota’s projected defensive pairings for Saturday look like this:
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Clayton Stoner-Tom Gilbert
Justin Falk-Nate Prosser
That said, Wild head coach Mike Yeo said nothing’s set in stone and that Dumba’s earned the right to open the year in the NHL.
“He’s earned it,” Yeo said. “He’s been really good up to this point. There’s no guarantees for anything except the next couple days.
“We definitely want to have a chance to, No. 1, reward him, and No. 2, watch him play a little bit more.”