By Greg Meachem, Black Press
The Minnesota Wild will get an up-close and personal look at Red Deer Rebels defenceman Mathew Dumba when the NHL team opens training camp, likely this weekend.
“I talked to Minnesota this morning and Matt talked to them this afternoon. He’ll be going in at the end of the week and will spend four or five days there and come back,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said Monday.
“It will be good for Matt, good for his development. The experience he’ll get will be beneficial.”
The Wild decision to bring Dumba to their main camp following the conclusion of the NHL lockout should surprise no one. The Calgary native, after all, was drafted by Minnesota seventh overall in last year’s entry draft.
“I certainly understand it and support it,” Sutter said. “He’s not ready to play at that (NHL) level yet, but Minnesota wants to bring him in and have him skate with their guys for a few days, and then they’ll return him back to us.”
Dumba is expected to play tonight when the Rebels open a three-game road trip at Swift Current, and then he’ll miss Friday and Saturday games at Saskatoon and Prince Albert.
Meanwhile, with Thursday’s WHL trade deadline looming, Sutter has been working the phone lines over the past week in an effort to further change the face of his team.
“My mindset hasn’t changed from where it was in September,” he said. “There are areas in which we need to continue to grow and get better at. We need to add skill, but we need to get bigger up front, too. We need more size on our team but anyone we bring in has to be able to play.”
That being said …
“I don’t know if anything will happen,” Sutter said. “We’ve made a lot of changes this season to the benefit of the team for this year and next and moving forward. We have a spot open for a 20-year-old and if it’s the right 20-year-old and for the right price, I’ll certainly look at it.”
While a trade for more size and experience might be somewhat helpful, the core of the team will remain in place. With the Rebels having lost five of their past six games, a change in attitude and work ethic would be more beneficial than a slight change in personnel. One night after snapping a four-game losing streak with a last-minute win over visiting Moose Jaw, the Rebels were flat over the second half of Sunday’s contest at Cranbrook and fell 3-2 to the Kootenay Ice.
“Last night, we played well in the first period, got the lead, and then just had the wheels fall off underneath of us,” said Sutter, whose club was outshot 37-11 in the final two periods and 48-23 overall. “All we did is stand around and watch the last half of the game. Sure, we may have been a little bit tired with it being three games in three nights and the travel there yesterday, but good teams find a way to play through that. That’s something we’ll continue to work on with the players. They can’t accept being second.”
Red Deer captain Turner Elson, who last year signed with the Calgary Flames, was slated to attend the training camp of the AHL Abbotsford Heat in September, but he was told to stay with the Rebels due to the number of NHL players already with the Heat because of the lockout.
The AHL squad will now lose a few players to the Flames, but Elson will remain in Red Deer, despite a handful of spots opening up with the Heat.