For the past two seasons, Minnesota defenseman Matt Dumba has proudly worn No. 55 for the Wild, but the club announced Monday he would be switching to No. 24, the number he had worn for much of his junior hockey career.
Usually, there isn’t much hullabaloo about a player switching jersey numbers – it happens on a yearly basis, yet rarely does it make headlines – but Dumba’s situation is made unique by the number he’s choosing to wear.
The No. 24 is synonymous in Minnesota Wild history with cult-star tough guy Derek Boogaard, who passed away suddenly in 2011 from an accidental overdose. Boogaard, one of the most fearsome fighters in the NHL during his playing days, was a fan favorite in Minnesota. As such, Dumba wanted to make sure it was all right for him to wear Boogaard’s former number. Read more
Parity in the modern-day NHL creates such a delicate balance between teams that one year’s powerhouse is the next year’s dud, and vice versa. Just ask the Colorado Avalanche, who went from Central Division champs to out of the playoffs, or the Calgary Flames, who went from rebuilding team to round 2 of the post-season.
In all, 2014-15 swapped Calgary, Nashville, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Washington, the New York Islanders and Ottawa into the playoffs, with Colorado, Los Angeles, Dallas, San Jose, Boston, Columbus, and Philadelphia falling out. That’s seven new teams out of 16, or 43.75 percent.
With that crazy stat in mind, which 2014-15 post-season qualifiers might slide out in 2015-16? And which teams might take their places? I’ve chosen three candidates in each category.
We’ve seen plenty of turnover on NHL rosters so far this summer, setting up what appears to be even crazier parity than normal in each division. The Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks made major moves in the Pacific. The Washington Capitals jazzed up their top two lines in the Metropolitan. The Chicago Blackhawks did anything but sit on their championship team, making over a quarter of their roster.
A bushel of franchises, however, have been oddly quiet so far. Some are justified in their thought process. Others have their angry fans yelling “DO something!”
Why do some of these teams appear to be deer in the headlights right now? There’s a plausible explanation for each, though some are more maddening than others.
Note to Alex Tuch: you clearly have the hands for the NHL, but the celebrations might need a bit of work.
During Tuesday’s prospect scrimmage, Tuch scored one of more creative shootout goals we’ll see all summer, putting the puck between his legs, pulling it back up to his backhand, toe-dragging and popping the puck past the netminder. The goal itself is a must-see, but it’s the celebration after that really steals the show: Read more
The Minnesota Wild locked up one of their key restricted free agents Wednesday just as the noon window opened up for unrestricted free agency.
Center Mikael Granlund, 23, has signed a two-year, $6-million extension, per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.
Devan Dubnyk was incredibly valuable in getting Minnesota to the post-season. Apparently, that value was six more years of service for a grand total of $26 million.
That`s the pact the netminder just signed with the Wild, bringing a reasonable cap hit of $4.3 million with it. But the length is something to behold.
The top college free agent player has decided to stay home. Per beat writer Michael Russo of the Star Tribune, defenseman Mike Reilly will sign with the Minnesota Wild on an expected two-year, $1.85-million deal when eligible next Wednesday.
Reilly, 21, was born in Chicago but raised in Minnesota. He cut his teeth at the esteemed Shattuck-St. Mary’s. He won a gold medal with the U.S. world junior team in 2013 and bronze playing with men on the World Championship team this spring. Reilly played his college hockey at the University of Minnesota. He stood out as a puck-mover, notching better than a point per game in 2014-15 with the Gophers, and he’s the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He was a Hobey Baker finalist, too.
The Wild’s immediate future is tough to project after an odd season in which goalie Devan Dubnyk’s freakishly good performance carried them to the playoffs. Did that feel-good story mask a few team needs? The Wild’s good young forwards have blended nicely with their vets, and their blue-chip blueliners have improved, but they still have some flaws to address at the draft and in free agency.
Round 1, pick 20
Round 2, pick 50
Round 4, pick 111
Round 6, pick 171
Round 7, picks 201, 204
Jonas Brodin has emerged as a defensive pillar, and 2012 first-rounder Mathew Dumba made an impressive jump to full-time NHL duty, but Minny could use a physical, top-four veteran blueliner to take pressure off Ryan Suter. Many of the Wild’s checking forwards are UFAs this summer, so GM Chuck Fletcher must re-sign or replenish bodies for his bottom six. Read more