Capitals 2023 Free Agent Targets: Matt Dumba

The Washington Capitals’ playoff hopes are slim, so it’s time to start looking at next season and begin considering some new players that would provide something different to the team and improve the roster that took to the ice in 2022-23. One spot that they were weak in all season was their defensive depth, so bringing in an energetic two-way defenseman like Matt Dumba would be a perfect addition to help improve the core.

The Capitals had a solid top two pairings all season when they were healthy. Still, when John Carlson began dealing with injuries following a freak accident, they had to rely heavily on Rasmus Sandin, who played extremely well, but could only do so much as one player. Even with Carlson healthy, it was tough to trust anyone other than those two in clutch situations, so bringing in another big name at the right price would be beneficial.

Who Is Matt Dumba & How Does He Benefit the Capitals?

Dumba is a 28-year-old right-handed defenseman from Regina, Saskatchewan currently playing for the Wild. Drafted seventh overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, he has played his entire career with the Wild, playing 593 games in that span, scoring 79 goals, and adding 157 assists for 236 points which comes out to a 0.40 points per game average. This season he has struggled, scoring four goals and adding 10 assists for 14 points.

Related: Capitals 2023-24 Free Agent Targets: James van Riemsdyk

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As mentioned earlier in the season when the idea of Dumba being traded was discussed, he played his junior career in the Western Hockey League (WHL), splitting time between the Red Deer Rebels and the Portland Winterhawks. Through a combined 225 games with both teams, he scored 59 goals and added 92 assists for 151 points, capping off his career in juniors with a 0.67 point per game average. While nobody pulled the trigger on a trade for him at the deadline, he will likely take a pay cut to play outside Minnesota.

Matt Dumba Minnesota Wild
Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Dumba isn’t the most offensive defenseman on the planet, but he provides leadership alongside sound two-way play that the Caps haven’t gotten from their current roster consistently all season. If he can come in and play a slightly lesser role than during his time with the Wild, he could be one of the backbones for the team next season.

He’d be much better off playing on the second or third pairing rather than eating up first-pairing minutes 5-on-5. He is a solid player on the power play, so the majority of his ice time should come there. But, until he finds his confidence he needs a lesser role during even strength play.

What Would It Cost the Capitals?

The Capitals would have to make some moves to make this work. Dumba will likely be looking for a 2-3 year deal worth $2.5-$3.5 million a season which for a player like him, is worth it. He plays well on any pairing but has just fallen out of favor with the Wild, so giving him the fresh start he needs would fully revamp his career.

The addition of Dumba would be an immediate upgrade for the blue line. With the emergence of Sandin, the continued strong play of Carlson, and the continued development of Martin Fehevary, the defensive core should be one of the strongest in the Eastern Conference, if not the league.

I like the idea of bringing in Dumba as he’s been a personal favorite of mine for years, and he would be a missing piece to the puzzle and a huge upgrade that would help the team get back into the playoffs next season. If the Capitals want their second Stanley Cup in franchise history, I think Dumba could be a huge piece that helps them do it.

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