With just a few weeks left before the trade deadline, an interesting wrinkle has appeared in Minnesota. The Wild are going to make Matt Dumba a healthy scratch tonight, according to Michael Russo of The Athletic. The “hockey decision” is based on his play, notes Sarah McLellan of the Star-Tribune, though head coach Dean Evason refused to get into specifics.
Alex Goligoski will enter the lineup for the Wild, but a decision like this will certainly raise eyebrows around the league. Dumba’s name has entered the rumor mill lately (if it ever left), as he approaches the end of his contract with Minnesota.
Now 28, Dumba has averaged more than 21 minutes a night this season, his lowest total since 2016-17. The right-shot defenseman is in the final season of a five-year, $30MM contract that was signed by Minnesota’s former management group, and holds a 10-team no-trade clause. Reports have emerged recently explaining that while general manager Bill Guerin will listen, he’s focused on winning this season and won’t be selling Dumba off to the highest bidder unless there is a return that is going to help his team.
That’s a hard trade to make at the deadline, as contenders try to load up by handing off draft picks and futures. But a scratch right now, with no obvious reason, will certainly draw questions about his trade availability. The Wild may be protecting an asset as they head into Carolina to take on the Hurricanes. Even if it is a legitimate scratch for performance, it could mean that Minnesota has decided that their future is one without Dumba in the lineup.
Minnesota is a team to watch in the coming days and weeks. The team is now 6-2-2 in their last ten and has climbed within striking distance of the Central Division crown.
Start packing Matty….
Minneapolis Dollar Pocket
Better to get something for Dumba today than send him walking at the end of the season. It’s one of the realities of buyouts and little cap.
Is it though if they’re battling for playoff positions? Could send a bad vibe through the dressing room if they trade him for picks/prospects.
Minneapolis Dollar Pocket
“It’s a hockey decision,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “We had a real good meeting this morning. I won’t get into specifics, but he knows why he’s sitting out tonight.”
Evason made it clear this decision was based on Dumba’s performance.
In the team’s previous game on Tuesday, a 4-2 win at Washington, Dumba was on the ice for the Capitals’ first goal. He also picked up an assist on Brodin’s game-tying goal.
“Whenever you sit somebody out, there’s a reason, right?” Evason said. “There’s play that we feel warrants that a guy needs to not play in a hockey game and that’s it.”
Dumba said he was “pretty surprised” by the decision and felt his game has been “really good.”