If you’ve paid attention to the Minnesota Wild at all the past couple of seasons, chances are you’ve already heard about defenseman Mathew Dumba.
Dumba was the Wild’s first-round pick in 2012, seventh overall, out of Red Deer and was selected in hopes of becoming an eventual stud on a Minnesota blue line that desperately needed one. Now two years later, the Wild have Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin leading the way, and Dumba has gotten a taste of what the NHL is like after playing 13 games last season before being sent back to juniors.
Now that he’s grown up, his time in junior hockey is at an end. In 26 games with the Portland Winterhawks last season, he had 24 points. He added another 18 points in 21 playoff games and showed that not only was his defensive game strong, but his ability to generate offense was as well.
That kind of development is what the Wild are hoping will turn him into a regular on the Minnesota blue line right away. Outside of Suter and Brodin, the rest of the defense leaves the door open for Dumba to jump in.
Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella, and Keith Ballard make up what will likely be part of the next three spots. That leaves Dumba, Jonathon Blum, Stu Bickel and rookie Christian Folin to compete for the other starting spot, as well as the reserves.
As it is, Ballard and Blum bounced in and out of the lineup last season with Blum going between the AHL and NHL regularly. Bickel spent all of last season in the AHL and Folin is fresh out of UMass-Lowell in Hockey East.
If nothing else, the opportunity is there for Dumba to seize the day and make the team right out of training camp. At 20 years old, it may be daunting for the Wild to add another young guy to the blue line, but if his skills are up to it and his development won’t suffer – it may be his time to shine.
“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”
In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.
One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.
Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?
Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).
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