2012 Minnesota Wild Prospects: #18 - Tyler Cuma

Tyler Cuma
Defense, 6'1" 198 lbs
Houston (AHL)/Minnesota (NHL) 0G-9A 73 games/0G-0A 1 game

I can't lie, even for a blog whose name comes from a series of Minnesota Wild first rounders flaming out, it is  disheartening to see the 2008 first round pick as the 18th-best Wild prospect. That's exactly the case with Tyler Cuma, who has a different path to get to the same place as 19th-best prospect Chay Genoway.

Honestly, the way it has happened is such a shame.

When drafted 23rd overall (former Minnesota General Manager Doug Risebrough traded a third round pick to move up one spot) ahead of John Carlson (doh!), Cuma was seen by the team as a steal; a player who could be a top pairing shutdown defenseman. Tyler was able to score (2nd among defensemen on the Ottawa 67's with 32 points [4G-28A] in 59 games) and finished his draft-eligible season first on the 67's with a +4 despite going against opposing teams' first lines. There was no reason why Wild management shouldn't have been happy with the pick. Just look at their faces.

This is the last time Tyler Cuma was completely healthy.
What has happened since that late June day has been nothing short of nightmarish for Tyler- injuries, injuries, injuries, and missed airport connections on his first NHL callup. He's had surgeries on both knees (including a blown out ACL while Houston was playing in St. Paul), his groin (ouch), and other little maladies. Its not that Cuma has fallen down the list because he can't play- its that barring this last season, where he had managed to play a full season for the first time since his Draft year, he hasn't been able to get on the ice. Dan got the chance to talk to Guy Lapointe in Traverse City last Fall, and Lapointe mentioned that now "that he's healthy, Cuma needs tread on the tires."

Now- he did (eventually) finally make his NHL debut this Spring, a much warranted reward for the seemingly unending string of misfortune. The projected upside may not be as high as before, but he still can be a serviceable 2nd pairing defender as long as he stays healthy. What should be noted is that with every draft class and and the subsequent contract signings, there may be a roster squeeze at some point where Cuma may be jettisoned for someone younger. Purely conjecture, but certainly a possibility if he can't began to make hay while the sun is shining.

Dan Shrader also contributed to this post

Previous 2012 Minnesota Wild Top 20 Articles:
#19 - Chay Genoway
#20 - Tyler Graovac

Honorable Mentions

1 comment:

  1. Hard to believe he's "only" 22, isn't it? The iconic high-water moment for me is that pre-season game he played in for the Wild his draft year where everyone was pumping his tires, including Kim Johnsson.

    Wow, does that feel like forever ago now. If the Wild can hang on to Clayton Stoner that long developing him, they can spend at least another two years on Cuma. We're not *that* deep on d-men.