Defenseman Matt Dumba may have been visibly jittery during the Wild’s 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night. Now imagine what the next 24 or 48 hours will be like for the 19-year-old rookie as the Wild determines his fate.
Dumba played his ninth game and was on the ice for three of the four goals Chicago scored in the second and third periods. If Dumba plays in a 10th game, the first year of his three-year contract kicks in.
So the Wild will now decide whether Dumba stays in Minnesota or returns to Red Deer of the Western Hockey League for the season.
Dumba said Monday morning he would prepare for the game like normal and hoped, “I continue to be up here and play more games.”
After one of his toughest games in the NHL, Dumba admitted the nine-game threshold rattled him.
“Obviously, it’s there and I’m not going to say that I didn’t think about it at all, because that would be a lie,” Dumba said. “I did put that pressure on myself and wasn’t really happy with my third period. All I can do is moving forward try to be my best.”
Coach Mike Yeo didn’t blame him for the difficult third because if the Wild was going to rally, it needed to take risks.
“What’s important for us is to look at what he’s done as a whole,” Yeo said. “Even tonight there were some moments where he made some great plays, especially in the second period. He’s played some really good hockey for us. What we’ve got to determine is where he would fit, does he help us right now and how’s it affect his development as far as how we would use him.”
Coyle targets Friday
Charlie Coyle missed his 11th game Monday because of a sprained knee ligament. The forward says there’s a possibility he returns Friday against Montreal, but only if he’s 100 percent — physically and mentally.
This is the first time Coyle has had to return from a serious injury, and he admits the toughest part being confident on his recovering knee while practicing.
“The first time I got on the ice, every little tweak I got nervous even if it was nothing major, or just doing certain moves, I would be thinking about my knee all the time,” Coyle said. “It’s getting better where I’m not staying focused on my knee as much, but it’s still there. Sometimes nothing’s really wrong, but it’s on my mind.”
Coyle hopes to get into more contact drills Wednesday and Thursday, but “I want to be 100 percent comfortable where my only thoughts are only playing, nothing else.”
Brodin’s return uncertain
Defenseman Jonas Brodin, who has skated on his own the past few days, missed his third game because of a broken cheekbone. The Wild is off Tuesday, and Yeo doesn’t know yet if Brodin will practice Wednesday.
“Some of it depends on just how far the swelling comes down in the next couple days, because we’ve got to make sure that he can see properly,” Yeo said. “It is still quite swollen.”
Defenseman Keith Ballard, who has missed seven games because of a concussion, might be ready to return Friday.
• Center David Steckel, who didn’t make the Wild out of training camp but was on a pro tryout with the Iowa Wild, has signed an AHL contract with Anaheim’s affiliate in Norfolk, Va.
He hopes to eventually transition into an NHL deal with the Ducks. Steckel feels there might be more of an opportunity in Anaheim, where Bruce Boudreau coaches. Boudreau has previously coached Steckel with Anaheim, Washington and Hershey.
• Goalie Josh Harding, who missed Saturday’s game because of a strained hamstring, backed up Niklas Backstrom on Monday.