Update: The Minnesota Wild have taken Dumba with the 7th overall pick.
Born: 07/25/94, Calgary, Alberta
NHL Central Scouting Rank: #11 North American Skater
Player Pages: NHL – EP – HF – WHL – Hf
Matt Dumba is a highly-motivated, physical offensive defenseman with a big shot. He is easily the most competitive defenseman in the draft, and his emotional risk/reward style usually leads to him being a positive difference-maker. He needs work on his defensive awareness and decision-making, but that is to be expected with a 17-year old. His work in his own end is characterized by his high-energy style, laying out punishing hits and working hard in the corners, even if he gets caught out of position on occasion. His mobility is not a concern.
The Red Deer Rebels were a high-risk, high reward team last season, and Dumba was a central cog in the Big Red Deer Machine. He ranked 6th in defenseman scoring in the league as a 17-year old with 57 points in 69 games. His 20 goals were second in the league, and 9 of them came on the powerplay. He also posted 67 PIM and a -6 rating. When Red Deer missed the playoffs, it allowed Dumba to wear the Captain’s “C” for the bronze-medal winning Canadian World Under-18 team. In 7 games, Dumba posted 5 goals and 12 points, 20 PIM, and a +2 rating.
Dumba projects to be a powerplay quarterback who can fire away from the point. He also looks to be a puck-rusher who likes the physical play, meaning he’ll get to the NHL but will need to be paired with a defensive-minded partner to be effective. As motivated and skilled as he is, he will a difference maker at the top level at some point, but his impressive performance at the NHL Draft could mean his body ready for professional hockey sooner rather than later. His decision-making and defensive positioning can only improve, so he should be at least passable at the NHL level in a few years.
Will the Capitals draft him?:
Mike Morreale and Steven Hoffner of NHL.com have Dumba going 4th overall, but Adam Kimelman placed him as Washington’s first pick at 11th overall. The Hockey News puts him at 5. In short, he might not be available when the Caps pick, but the high risk side of his risk-reward profile might ward some teams off. McPhee has shown no reticence for drafting defensemen with an all-offense reputation like Mike Green and Dmitry Orlov. Judging by McPhee’s affinity for players from the WHL (30 of 126 draft picks and 7 of 19 first-rounders since 1997) and especially for defensemen from that league (10 of 50 picks in rounds 1-3), the odds on the Caps picking up Dumba at 11 if he’s available are decent.
Plans for next season:
If the Capitals draft Dumba, he’ll spend two more seasons in the WHL as he won’t be AHL eligible until 2014. He will almost certainly spend a full season in the AHL before he earns an NHL call-up, but if his defensive acumen develops quickly, he could see NHL action in 2014-15. He likely won’t be given a chance to be an NHL regular until 2015.