Wild lock up defenseman Matt Dumba with five-year, $30 million deal
ST. PAUL — Matt Dumba was walking up to the green on the fifth hole at Black Mountain Golf Course in Kelowna, British Columbia, early Friday evening, July 20, when his cellphone rang.
His birdie putt would have to wait.
"All of us huddled around kind of listening on speaker phone," said Dumba, who was playing golf with his father, Charles, and brother, Kyle. "My agent told me what happened and we started screaming and everyone was looking at us."
The news was Dumba's five-year, $30 million contract with the Wild, rewarding the 23-year-old defenseman for a breakout season in 2017-18. This agreement happened a couple of days before the two sides were scheduled for an arbitration hearing.
"It was just surreal," Dumba said. "No better way of doing it. We got some really cool pictures. To share that with my dad and my little brother, I wouldn't have had it any other way."
With his new contract, Dumba will become the third-highest-paid player on the team, trailing only veterans Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Dumba will be paid $5.2 million for the 2018-19 season, $7.4 million in 2019-20, $4.8 million in 2020-21, $7.4 million in 2021-22, and $5.2 million in 2022-23.
"It was a no brainer," Dumba said. "I kind of get speechless when I talk about it. It really hasn't sunk in yet. I'm very appreciative and happy to know I'm going be in the State of Hockey for five more years."
Dumba earned the hefty pay raise with stellar play last season, setting career-highs in goals (14), assists (36) and points (50). Already a five-year veteran of the NHL, he has improved every season, and the Wild are betting on that trend continuing.
"I love the competitiveness that Matt brings to the game on top of the offense," first-year general manager Paul Fenton said. "I think that was the attraction here. We wanted to keep our defense intact.
"From a logic standpoint it just made sense to us," Fenton said. "We see that he still has a lot of room to grow. If two years from now, we had gone to a five-year term, I think that the (average annual value) would have been much higher."
The Wild's first-round draft pick in 2012, seventh overall, Dumba has been a polarizing figure in the Twin Cities with his inconsistent, but also brilliant, play. While he can do things offensively that other Wild blue liners wouldn't even try, Dumba has suffered through confounding defensive lapses.
"There's always risk-reward with players," Fenton said. "We feel the risk has certainly allowed him to score in double-digit goals. It's hard to find right defensemen who have the ability to game break.
"You look at how guys have molded themselves over the years, there's a risk-reward factor. (Nashville defenseman) P.K. Subban does basically the same thing in a lot of ways. You're looking at him and saying, 'Oh, my god. He tried that in that particular point in the game or that position in the game.' As he matures and goes forward, I think it will smooth itself out."
Still, it's hard to argue with the production. Dumba has scored more than 10 goals in each of the past three seasons, and boasts what many considered to be the hardest shot on the team.
"I want that to just be the start," Dumba said. "I think I started a little slow (last season), to be honest, and if I can play at the pace I was playing at down the stretch for the entire season, I think I'm just scratching the surface."
"I am very confident in myself. I hope I can just further myself and my growth to the best of my abilities to help my team toward the ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup."
For the record, Dumba missed the birdie putt. His foursome played a couple more holes before heading to the clubhouse for some well-deserved celebratory beers.
"I'm still the same old Matty that everyone's gotten to know," Dumba said. "That's not going change. If anything changes, it's going be that constant drive to accomplish something that we haven't and get past that second round of playoffs and get to that Stanley Cup. I think our time is now, and we've got to start talking about it now and getting everyone on that same page."