Minnesota Wild Prospect Mathew Dumba Faces Uncertain Future

Mathew Dumba

(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

What’s next for Wild Prospect Mathew Dumba?

The return of Mathew Dumba to the Minnesota Wild may be put on hold until next season despite his return to the Twin Cities following the World Juniors to be seen by the team doctors. Dumba took several spills during the WJHC, including going face first into the boards in a scary tripping incident. Dumba also was said to be battling the flu throughout the entire tournament, losing weight and suffering from dehydration. Dumba began the season with the Wild appearing in 13 games which put him past the maximum of 10 games in the NHL this season before he had to be returned to the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL without activating the first year of his entry-level contract. Dumba was loaned to Team Canada to provide him the opportunity to get his season back on track playing top pairing minutes. Dumba’s WJHC produced very similar results in performance that Wild fans saw from him during the first two months of the NHL season. Just before Dumba departed his WHL rights were traded from Red Deer to the Portland Winter Hawks. The trade of Dumba’s WHL rights surely was a move negotiated behind the scenes with some sort of input from the Wild’s front office. Even before Dumba departed for the WJHC it looked like he was destined to be returned to the WHL rather than find himself watching Wild games from the press box. In trying to understand why Dumba’s dynamic combination of aggressive open-ice checking and offensive capabilities have not translated for him at the NHL level, I watched nearly every minute of the WJHC for Team Canada.

 

Mathew Dumba (Darren Aucoin/Flickr)

Mathew Dumba (Darren Aucoin/Flickr)

Flaws in his Play Cost Dumba a Roster Spot in Minnesota

Dumba is struggling with his gap control and defensive positioning cause him to be out of position far too often. Dumba must improve his reads in the defensive end to better equip his ability to diagnose the evolution of the play. Dumba currently finds himself chasing the puck too often. He has taken too many penalties with his stick. Dumba also needs get stronger physically to compete at the NHL level. Once Dumba is able to gain confidence in his positioning and assignment/responsibility in his own zone, I believe he will again be empowered to unleash the dynamic ability that has been on display in his YouTube highlight reel.   The decision to assign Dumba to the WHL speaks volumes about how his season has gone both in production and development. The Wild is currently banged up, missing key pieces for extended periods due to injuries. The loss of Jared Spurgeon to a lower-body injury had to weigh heavy in general manager Chuck Fletcher’s decision but after the WJHC was completed he made the expected move.

Dumba Assigned To Portland Winter Hawks of Western Hockey League

The Portland team Dumba may finds himself assigned to looks to be on the verge of a deep playoff run at the Memorial Cup. Dumba will be playing significant minutes with other top prospects in a Winter Hawks sweater. It has even been rumored that the Wild brass was pushing the idea of 2013 second round pick Gustav Olofsson to leave Collorado College and join Portland to be paired up with Dumba. Olofsson declined the overtures and has returned to his college squad but it speaks volumes about the current trajectory of each of these Wild defensive prospects.   The year began so hopeful for Dumba as he made the roster out of camp but his development has not gone according to plan this year, making his assignment to the Winterhawks of the WHL so crucial to fixing his play and confidence. Depending on when Dumba’s season ends with Portland he could find himself playing a couple games in Iowa but his Wild future in Minnesota will be put on hold until next summer.

Tony Dean

Tony Dean

My name is Tony Dean, I am from Saint Paul, Minnesota and currently work in Law Enforcement. I have been writing about the Minnesota Wild for nearly four years now. I am also a United States Marine. I can be followed on Twitter @TonyDeanTHW Please track me down to provide feeback and talk hockey I appreciate every read of my content and welcome your thoughts!

6 Comments

  1. I’m not sure why there’s so much talk about Dumba. Decent player outside of the NHL, but his performance with the Wild wasn’t anything to write home about. I get why Flecher considered him; he tried, and realised that he’s just not ready for the NHL, if he ever would be. Happens all the time with players.

    • I dont think Dumba’s play with the Wild in 13 games or at the WJHC represented his talent or ability very well. I dont think that question is off base or not justified to a degree given his performance so far in 2013. The decision to send him to the Portland WinterHawks in my mind, has as much to do with build confidence for Dumba against high level competition at Canadian Junior level. Dont think that occured last year in Red Deer for Dumba and it hurt his readiness to take advatage of the opportunities presented by the Wild.

      The reason Dumba is so anticipated by Wild fans and hockey people in general is his dynamic ability to go end to end with the puck. At his best he is buzzing around the rink creating with the puck and blowing up opponents in the open ice with aggressive play. Dumba has been caught far too often trapped in his own head this year which has created hesistence in his reads and caused him to chase and be out of position. Dumba also needs to get stronger physically to compete at NHL level but again this is a 19 year old kid so there is still plenty of time to get it fixed.

      Dumba needs to work on his positioning and understanding of how and where the play will develop so that he can effectively implement his game breaking aggressiveness at the NHL level. Dont count this kid out based upon a rough a 2013.

  2. I think Dumba was rushed to the NHL, he should have played with his WHL team from the start of the season.

    • What a huge swing of momentum on Dumba from this summer to right now. Dumba looked shell shocked this year with the Wild not unlike all world prospect Mikael Granlund last year. I compare the two because I believe there is no doubt about either being capable of NHL success but both have failed to launch in their first opportunity with the Wild. I have to believe the Wild brass did not want Dumba in Red Deer specifically because of competition reasons. What has hindered Dumba’s play should find remedy in Portland. Granlund was no guarantee by any means to return to MN this having corrected what plagued him last year. Dumba will have to overcome the scrutiny he has EARNED from him lack luster performance here in MN and at the WJHC.

      I dont necessarily believe Dumba was rushed though, I think Fletcher and Flahr maneuvered Dumba within the limitations of CBA rules to provide him opportunities this year to thrive and unfortunately he stumbled. Now he must build momentum in Portland which should be a very good environment for the 19 yr old.

      • Agreed. Again, Dumba is 19 years old. 19. Hardly old enough to be written off. Look at Granlund (as you stated.) Look at Nino Niederreiter, who the Islanders gave up on. Not everyone called up to the NHL is going to be an immediate all-star level player.

        • I completely agree with you, Wild fans very spoiled to have Jonas Brodin hit the ground running last year as a 19 year old. I think the concern comes from Dumba struggling with fundamentals in his game which has caused the setbacks this year. The Wild brass maneuvering to get him as much unique experience at multiple different levels of hockey this year will help Dumba to be better prepared next summer. There is no better place in Canadian Juniors to play than Portland. Dumba needs to do the work but he will be fine.

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