The Minnesota Wild on Wednesday officially announced they have loaned defenceman Matt Dumba to the Canadian national junior team for the upcoming world junior hockey championship.
Dumba, 19, was the only teenaged NHL player invited recently to Canada’s selection camp, to be held Thursday through Sunday at the MasterCard Centre in Toronto.
Canada hopeful for Jonathan Drouin's return
The Canadian national junior hockey team is optimistic that star forward Jonathan Drouin will recover from a
concussion in time to play in the world junior hockey championship later this month.
It was uncertain if the dazzlingly skilled Drouin, drafted third overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning last June, will be able to skate at
camp. But Scott Salmond, the Canadian squad's senior director of hockey operations, said the left-winger would accompany the team to Sweden and they hope he will be able to play.
The Halifax Mooseheads star suffered a concussion last week after a hit by Adam Erne of the Quebec Remparts, who is on the U.S. team's world junior preliminary roster.
"He'll be evaluated when he gets here," said Salmond of Drouin. "We'll follow the protocol.
"If he's symptom-free, he could skate."
Drouin, a member of last year's team that lost in the semifinals to Russia, is expected to play on the top line in Malmo.
— The Canadian Press
Forwards Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado), Sean Monahan (Calgary) and Tom Wilson (Washington) along with defenceman Morgan Rielly (Toronto) are also eligible to play in the 2014 world junior tournament in Malmo, Sweden, which runs Dec. 26 through Jan. 5.
The team is hoping for more help from the NHL in the form of Rielly, who would likely play in the top pairing and man the point on the power play.
Rielly has not yet been loaned to the junior team by Toronto, but he's been a healthy scratch recently and the Leafs recalled defenceman John-Michael Liles from the American Hockey League, fuelling speculation that Rielly will end up in Malmo.
Scott Salmond, the Canadian team's senior director of hockey operations, said he was told the Leafs would decide by Dec. 17 whether to have the fifth overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft play in the world juniors for a second year in a row.
Dumba, who has two points and a minus-5 rating in 13 games for the Wild this season, was Canada’s final cut in each of the last two years.
“It’s been tough on me the last two times,” he told the Wild’s website. “Being the last cut last year, it hurt. It sucked not being able to represent my country last year so I’m looking forward to the opportunity that they’re giving me this year.”
While Canada’s 22-man roster isn’t due until Dec. 25, many hockey observers expect Dumba to be one of the club’s cornerstones.
Dumba is known as a big hitter who brings speed and skill to the defence.
His competition at the camp includes Ontario Hockey League blue-liners Chris Bigras, Aaron Ekblad and Adam Pelech along with WHL rearguards Griffin Reinhart, Josh Morrissey, Derrick Pouliot and Damon Severson.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to just go out there and experience everything about that,” said Dumba, a Regina native whom the Wild drafted seventh overall in 2012. “I haven’t had the chance to play at the world junior level thus far, so … I can’t wait to get started.”
It remains to be seen if the Wild will take him back after the tournament or send him back to junior. On Tuesday, the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League traded Dumba's junior rights to the powerhouse Portland Winterhawks for forward Presten Kopeck and three draft picks.
Only one defenceman and two forwards will be cut from the 25-man selection camp roster, allowing Canadian head coach Brent Sutter to get down to business quicker. He guided the Canadian squad to world junior gold in 2005 and 2006.
Others to watch in camp include tough-to-stop London Knights centre Bo Horvat, quick-footed centre Nic Petan of Portland and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League scoring leader Anthony Mantha of the Val d'Or Foreurs.
But perhaps the most closely watched will be three players yet to be drafted by NHL clubs — 16-year-old sensation Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters, Kootenay Ice forward Sam Reinhart and defenceman Ekblad of the Barrie Colts.
Reinhart and Ekblad are potential 2014 first overall picks, while McDavid, who some consider the best prospect since Sidney Crosby, won't be draft eligible until 2015.
Canada's team will practise Friday and Sunday at the Mastercard Centre and play an exhibition game Saturday against a group of university players, the CIS Toronto Selects.