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Buzzing The Net - Junior Hockey

Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba has played less than teens loaned to Team Canada recently

Former Red Deer Rebels star Matt Dumba has taken the sixth defenceman/press box shuttle through the NHL season's first two months with the Minnesota Wild, which has fomented speculation about whether he could be loaned to Team Canada.

During Sportsnet's Subway Super Series telecast on Wednesday, the network's John Shannon said there was a strong possibility of the 19-year-old defenceman being released for the world junior championship, provided the Wild have a proper complement of healthy blueliners by Dec. 10. Dumba's appeared in only 13 of 26 Wild games at this writing and has yet to play more than 15 minutes 30 seconds in a game. The Wild's standing in the new Central Division might be too tenuous for it to risk playing an inexperienced defenceman.

It's also worth noting that Dumba has been in the lineup far less than either the Tampa Bay Lightning's Brett Connolly or Anaheim Ducks' Devante Smith-Pelly had at the same point two seasons ago, when the two 19-year-old wings were ultimately lent to the national junior team. As of Nov. 29 of that season, Connolly had appeared in 23 games and Smith-Pelly had played 21.

Based on that alone, it would seem like a good possibility, if the Wild can spare being without Dumba for three weeks. He was oh-so-close to making the lineup the past two seasons, lasting until the final cuts.

Generally, there's less of a mental trick involved if one presumes Team Canada cannot count on getting any teen who makes it past the nine-game cutoff, where the NHL team has committed to using the first year of his entry-level deal. The track record shows that is not always the case.

In that vein, Sportsnet's Roger Millions also wondered if Team Canada might be a better place for Calgary Flames rookie centre Sean Monahan as he works back up to game speed after sustaining a hairline fracture in his foot. That sounds like a long shot, although the Flames said at the time they committed to keeping Monahan that the WJC was not out of the question.

As the Ottawa 67's top scorer last season, Monahan came into the national junior team selection camp rusty after serving a 10-game checking-to-the-head suspension. There was a notion that the inactivity led to him being among the first cuts. It would ironic if, a year later, he was loaned to Team Canada to get more ice time. Sounds like a long shot, though.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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