NASHVILLE — For nearly 600 games over parts of 10 seasons, Matt Dumba has been representing the Wild, a tenure that trails only fellow defensemen Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin on the current roster.

But with Dumba on an expiring contract and the Wild facing an offseason budget crunch, Dumba could be beginning the last leg of his Wild career when the playoffs start next week.

While he acknowledged that situation has upped his motivation, Dumba is "staying in the now" instead of surveying the future.

"If I do that, then things will take care of itself," he said. "There's no point to worry or look ahead at anything. It'll just do you no good."

Dumba skated in the Wild's regular-season finale Thursday at Nashville, his 598th career game, after turning the page on earlier adversity.

Not only was he once again mentioned in trade rumors despite not getting moved, but Dumba was benched for two games in January for his play. He has rebounded, especially during the Wild's 14-game point streak in February and March: The team didn't surrender any 5-on-5 goals when Dumba was on the ice in nine of those games.

"I know what makes me successful now and what this team needs," Dumba said. "I feel like when I approach games, I kind of have a better perspective on that and understanding of what my role is. It's allowed me to flourish in those areas. I think I've added a part of my [defensive] game that I think a lot of people discredit, probably never held me in that regard. That's what I'm happy about."

Two debuts

With the Wild resting a handful of regulars, forwards Nick Swaney and Damien Giroux made their NHL debuts against the Predators.

Giroux arrived in Nashville on Thursday morning after getting the news following Wednesday night's game with Iowa in the American Hockey League, while Swaney learned earlier in the week he'd be suiting up for the Wild.

"Coach [Tim] Army called me, and I was getting ready to go to sleep," said Swaney, the Lakeville native and Minnesota Duluth alum. "So it woke me up and [it was] tough to fall asleep after that. Yeah, it was awesome. I was super excited."

Among the group Swaney expected in attendance were his parents, Matt and Amy, sister Kaitlyn and fiancée Emily.

Giroux's parents, Daniel and Claudette, began driving to Nashville from Sudbury, Ontario, at midnight after not being able to find a flight. They planned to make a pit stop in Flint, Mich., to pick up Giroux's brother Zach, whose team was recently knocked out of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs.

"This has been a dream of mine ever since I could walk for the most part and hold a mini-stick in my hands," Damien Giroux said. "This is a dream come true. I'm going to try and soak it all in as much as I can and have some fun."

Resting up

A bunch of players didn't make the trip to Nashville, including forwards Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello, Ryan Hartman, Marcus Johansson and Sam Steel as well as Spurgeon and Brodin.

Hartman was serving a one-game suspension for interference against Winnipeg's Nikolaj Ehlers in the Wild's 3-1 loss on Tuesday, a game that also included Johansson taking a cross-check from Neal Pionk that resulted in a five-minute major and $5,000 fine.

Coach Dean Evason said Johansson is sore, "but fortunately nothing's broken." Evason is hopeful Johansson plays Game 1.

As for Steel, he's no longer under the weather, but the team didn't want him in action after being sick.

Although Steel has played in spurts the past two months, he could be on the ice for the Wild when the playoffs begin. He had a goal vs. Colorado last month in his return from being scratched four straight before chipping in a goal and assist Saturday against St. Louis.

"Sam Steel's made a strong case all year for being in our lineup every single night," Evason said. "Whenever he comes in if he's not playing, he comes in and he performs exceptionally well."