|Photo Courtesy of Wild.com; Lip Ferret Courtesy of Dumba|
So why did he make it?
For now, it looks as if it is more out of necessity- already under contract, Dumba provides another option with guys like Marco Scandella, Jonas Brodin, and most recently Tom Gilbert (although it looks as if he will be good to go tonight) banged up or recovering from some more significant injuries (groin for Scandella, Brodin is close to returning from a broken collarbone), so the inclusion of the 2012 First Rounder just means that GM Chuck Fletcher doesn't have to look outside of the organization for a short-term band-aid.
But I think there is a strong developmental purpose behind this as well.
There is as reason why players get selected in the 1st round- NHL teams believe these players have not only the highest potential, but also are most likely to achieve it. So in terms of developing these players, you want to give every opportunity you can to get as much as you can- whether it means being hands on with them (think visits from Brad Bombardir, who is the Director of Player Development, and the Wild Prospect Camp) or signing them to Amateur Try-Out Agreements when their respective seasons end, allowing them to join AHL affiliate Houston- a step up in the level of competition. Dumba is by no means a finished product, so this time spent with Minnesota only serves to expedite his development process; or so the hope is.
Whether or not Dumba actually plays may not matter- he can play up to six games before a year of his Entry-Level Deal is burned (which would create an even larger logjam of contract negotiations down the road) but he will get not just quality time with Coaches (and former defensemen themeselves) Rick Wilson and Darryl Sydor, but he'll see and learn the ins and outs of being a professional from guys like Ryan Suter and Scandella (who served as Dumba's mentor at the Summer Prospect Camp) and take that with him when he (inevitably) gets reassigned to Red Deer of the Western League.
Red Deer, which had been a complete mess until Czar Brent Sutter fired Head Coach Jesse Wallin after a pretty nondescript start, is now fourth in The Eastern Conference. Dumba's play had been a metaphor for Red Deer's season until that point, and has turned it around. Sutter, by the way, is on board with Dumba's Training Camp experience.
Will he see time in an NHL game this season? Perhaps. That isn't the end game though; I feel it is to send Matt Dumba back to Red Deer a better player, with an understanding of what he needs to do to become a regular on Minnesota's blueline.