Just moments after we published a note about Matt Dumba’s upper-body injury, news broke out of Minnesota that the Wild defenseman will have surgery next week. Dumba will be out a “significant” amount of time, though GM Paul Fenton wouldn’t give an exact timeline or reveal what the injury is. Michael Russo of The Athletic (subscription required) yesterday suggested that if surgery was required, Dumba could be months and it would “potentially put his season in jeopardy.” Fenton didn’t want to get ahead of himself when talking about the injury:
He will be out for a significant time. We don’t know [how long] until they get in there. I’ve talked to three different doctors, and yes they’re giving me a general timeline for it but I don’t want to say anything that comes back and haunts us. Let’s just make sure first, see how the surgery goes then we’ll make a statement from there.
Dumba, 24, has developed into one of the premiere right-handed offensive defensemen in the league. Armed with a heavy, accurate shot, he has added more playmaking ability to his repitoire and registered 22 points through 32 games. He also brings a level of physicality rarely seen in offensive defensemen, something that perhaps may have played a part in the injury. Dumba himself isn’t sure when it occurred exactly, but he didn’t return to the game after fighting Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk on Saturday night.
This is extremely tough news for the Wild, who are struggling to stay in the Central Division race and have lost their last three games. The team now sits at 17-15-2 on the year and holds just a +5 goal differential. That’s a long way from the dominant team they looked like in the first part of the year, now putting them in a position to perhaps miss the playoffs entirely. That would surely spark a change to the core group, something that Fenton has hinted at already in the past.
Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter have been rumored available at various times, but losing Dumba could really push the Wild to make a move in-season to address the defense. The team wouldn’t confirm such a desire, but any team that loses 23+ minutes on the right side normally has to do something to fill it if they want to continue competing for a playoff spot. We’ll have to keep a close eye on the Wild after the holiday transaction freeze lifts, and see if they move to get better this year or begin a retool for 2019-20.