Matt Dumba, Defense Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
6'0" 180 Pounds
First Round, 7th overall 2012 NHL Entry Draft
In my prep for the vaunted but usually wrong 7 for 7 series, I didn't bother to include Matt Dumba because I thought that a.) he wouldn't be there at 7, and that b.) he wasn't the kind of defenseman I believe Brent Flahr and Chuck Fletcher want. Then I read this in the days leading up to the Draft.
"It's difficult because the one characteristic that Dumba brings [more] than the other guys is the fact his competitive level is off the charts."
First Round Bust should have known better.
So now we have a defenseman in the cupboard who can change the course of a game any which way; unlike last year, when Jonas Brodin's offensive upside was (and still is) somewhat of a question mark, there is no mistaking what Dumba can do with the puck- he can move it up ice with his elite skating ability, he can distribute it to teammates with superb vision and soft hands, and he can flat out shoot the goddamned thing.
Did I mention he will eat your soul in open ice?
Its not that he's freakishly athletic and ridiculously talented; Dumba's got great character and is driven to succeed- he took being cut from Team Canada's World Junior Camp and turned it into a motivator for the rest of the season. A season by the way, capped off by Captaining Team Canada at the U-18 Championships to a Bronze Medal, including leading the entire tournament in scoring...as a defenseman. The Captaincy should be noted, as he has a wonderful set of intangibles to go with his on-ice game. As is protocol for the players drafted under the watch of Brent Flahr, the players are just as good off the ice as they are on.
There are some things that Dumba will need to work on as he begins to prepare for the various Camps; he will try and do too much. Whether it be with the puck, or trying to put a forward into the stratosphere, he's going to have to reign himself in somewhat, but he's got a wonderful set of tutors at his disposal- John Torchetti, Mike Van Ryn, Darryl Sydor, and Rick Wilson. There is some worry about his size and his corresponding physical game, but added mass and strength will come with maturity and physical development too. Again, there won't be any rushing him to the NHL either.
Matt Dumba has this "wild mustang" quality to him; he wants to be on the ice, he wants to skate, score, and hit. He wants to win.
Looks like Chuck Fletcher found a smaller version of someone he traded away 360-odd days ago.