"See what I did there? Ya see, it's funny because...wait, am I late to the party AGAIN?"
But seriously, Mathew Dumba needs to stay in the NHL this season.
I won't go in to the "fancy" stats here, but even if Dumba needs to be protected a little bit by Yeo giving him easier minutes and as much offensive zone starts as possible, so what? So far, even with the usual rookie mistakes with the puck (giving it up too quickly or holding on to it for too long) and a few defensive zone errors where he's been chasing the puck a bit, you can see the talent there.
As for the Wild, the talent that Dumba has? Yup, they need it. They need it badly.
Dumba has averaged about 18 shifts per game with the Wild. You can check my math on that, but it's not far off. That gives a player, usually, over 13 minutes of ice time over a 60-minute game. That's *enough* for a young defenseman when he's getting used to the NHL speed. Those minutes will grow once he really gets the defensive side of the game, but rather than being afraid of what Dumba can't quite do yet, the Wild should be concentrating on what the kid has the potential to do.
And what Dumba can do, is attack. Even in the NHL level, his shot is a good one. His skating is explosive, he can jump up the ice in a blink of an eye and create odd-man rushes just by himself. Add the fact that Dumba can be quite crafty with the puck once he gets confident with it in the offensive zone. That's what the Wild desperately need right now. Guys that can break down defensive zone coverages by beating their man (while with or without the puck) and creating movement in the middle.
Right now, the Wild are a bit predictable when they start cycling the puck in the offensive zone. Dumba gives you that kind of unpredictable offensive talent that gets opponents on their heels when the Wild are controlling the play. Right now, collapsing and taking away the middle of the ice is too easy against the Wild. Offensive-minded, hard shooting defensemen are a great way to make that job a lot harder.
What are the risks, though? Will Dumba end up being like James Sheppard? Doubt it. Dumba can play in the NHL right now, I'm 100% sure of that. The skating ability is something that will make his "adjustment period" a lot easier. Dumba has played in 6 games so far, looking good in a few of them and a bit shaky in a couple. But the signs of a great, exciting, productive defenseman are all there.
Sometimes you just gotta go with your gut. And after watching Dumba for those 6 games, my gut is feeling very, VERY optimistic. Would he develop faster in the WHL? I can't say for sure, but when you get to skate with Jonas Brodin and Ryan Suter ALL THE TIME, and when you're not playing, you get to watch and learn by watching those guys operate...man, I can't think of anything better for Dumba right now.
He can have a bad game, and he's not actually "punished" for it. He's been given a "chance to make mistakes". That, for a young defenseman, is huge.
And, to be honest, the Wild really, REALLY need the kind of a defenseman that Dumba can be. Can he be that guy now? Not right away. Give him 10-15 games, and the guy will be awesome.