Last week, it was reported that Wild defenseman Mathew Dumba was set to undergo surgery and was going to miss a significant amount of time. The team announced that he has undergone a successful procedure to repair a ruptured right pectoralis muscle and will miss a minimum of three months. The injury occurred last Saturday in a first period fight with Matthew Tkachuk of the Flames.
The 24-year-old has been one of the top offensive threats among NHL defensemen, scoring a dozen goals while adding ten assists in 32 games so far this season. The rest of Minnesota’s back end has combined for just 13 tallies on the year so this is a significant blow to their attack. He also ranks second on the team in ice time per night at over 23 minutes which will be difficult to fill from within. Greg Pateryn will be counted on to log some extra minutes on the right side but he has been better served on the third pairing in recent years.
The Wild find themselves in a bit of a freefall having lost four straight games and nine of their last dozen. Despite that, they are still just two points out of the final playoff spot in the West but they may need to turn to the trade market to find Dumba’s replacement. With nearly $26MM already tied up in their back end for next season, they may prefer to add a rental player but there don’t project to be many impact rentals available between now and the trade deadline.
Right now, Minnesota has the ability to add a player making roughly $3.4MM in a full-season salary, per CapFriendly. They can place Dumba on LTIR to give them some more space and allow them to go over the Upper Limit in the short term but as Michael Russo of The Athletic notes (subscription required), the team is hopeful that the blueliner will be able to return before the end of the season. With that in mind, GM Paul Fenton will have to factor in the fact he’ll have to get the team back in salary cap compliance later in the season into his thought process before deciding who to try to add in the weeks to come which will likely lower the Wild to lower-priced players.
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