Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mathew Dumba Jersey Card

Mathew Dumba did a really classy thing yesterday: he contacted Derek Boogaard's family to ask if it was ok to use their son's former #24 jersey, meaning he'll forgo the star-worthy 55 in favour of a more classic number. Boogaard may have been an enforcer, but he resonated deeply with fans and teammates.

A year ago, Dumba was about to enter his actual rookie year as a 20-year-old defenseman, and Minnesota Wild fans were expecting to see his hard hits, hard shot and offensive prowess on full display, but the team decided to work him in slowly, giving him third-pair minutes (he averaged less than 16 per game in 58 games) and asking him to develop a sound, mistake-free defensive game before trying to light up the league.

He had nearly as many points in the NHL level (16 in 58 games) as he did in the AHL (14 in 20 games), but his average with the Iowa Wild was closer to what he'd shown he could provide in the minor leagues.

Then again, it's not every year than an Aaron Ekblad comes in and dominates as a rookie on the back end, and even those who do later take a few years of constant criticism while polishing their game, like Tyler Myers. I think the Wild will play it smart with him and let him develop on his own timeline, as the Montréal Canadiens have done with P.K. Subban and now Nathan Beaulieu.

One thing's for sure, as he gathers confidence and learns to properly gauge the speed at which plays occur, he will lay some bruising hits in his own zone and scare the other team's defenders in the offensive zone with his shot.

He has the tools to dominate for a decade, it's up to him to use them properly, and to the Wild to develop them.

In the meantime, here he is from In The Game's 2011-12 Heroes And Prospects set (card #SSM-05 in the Game-Used Jersey sub-set, the Black Version variant), wearing the WHL All-Stars' white (home) uniforms as they faced off against a group of talented Russian Juniors stars in the Subway Super Series, with a matching game-worn jersey swatch:

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