It seems unfair to classify a season where we saw Mathew Dumba set career highs in goals and assists as a down year, but when reviewing Dumba's season it's hard to not come away wanting. Especially considering the extra motivation he should have had in pursuing one of the coveted protected slots for expansion. On top of all that, add in a new offensive-minded head coach and it's easy to see why the outlook and expectations were fairly high entering the year.
It's admittedly difficult to give an honest assessment of Dumba because he is easily the most divisive player on the team for fans. The "old-school" contingent of fans who believe that defenseman need only focus on the defensive zone and that they should leave the offensing to the forwards, go nuts over any miscue by Dumba in his own zone, while ignoring the positive impact he can have in the offensive zone. And likewise, folks like me, who enjoy watching skilled players attempt to create offense at any cost, are guilty of weighting offensive contributions too heavily while brushing off defensive lapses.
So, did Dumba have a bad year?
Interestingly enough it's the #fancystats that the old-school crowd is so fond of that point to Dumba's year as being below average. Of the regular defenseman, he finished 5th in shot attempt percentage, with the Wild being out-attempted by 1.83% more with Dumba on the ice. This was a slight downgrade from last season, but considering Dumba played a decent amount of extra minutes with a 4th line that was a possession black hole, it's not especially surprising. The area where the Wild really excelled as a team this season was scoring chances. Dumba finished with a scoring chance share of 56.2%, slightly behind the team rate of 58%.
By pretty much any advanced stat, Dumba's season comes up as "meh". But for all the "Dumba allows too many chances in front of the net" people, just know that he allowed the 10th fewest scoring chances against for defenseman with >500 minutes in *the entire NHL*. Sure, a lot of that is team structure, but if a guy was truly a disaster in his own end, it would show up in those numbers. Dumba is no longer the defensive liability he was when he entered the league.
If there is an argument that Dumba's season was actually good, it pretty much begins and ends with his point totals. He finished with 11 goals and 23 assists, which put him first for Wild defenseman with 1.32 points/60. Those are very strong totals, even though they are inflated by Dumba having the second most ice time on the power play for defenseman. When you take Dumba's age into account, those numbers can actually be a little eye-popping. Here's the complete list of defenseman at age 22 who have equaled or bettered Dumba's totals over the past 10 seasons:
The answer to Dumba's performance this season isn't entirely satisfying; he was fine, when we were hoping he would be outstanding. But if a guy can have an "OK" season and join company like that ^^^^. Well, then Vegas may just hit a home run come expansion draft time.
(All stats courtesy of stats.hockeyanalysis and corsica.hockey)
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