ST. LOUIS -- Matt Dumba's NHL experience was short-lived ... at least for this season. The seventh pick of the 2012 NHL Draft is headed back to his junior team.
Dumba, 18, was returned to Red Deer of the Western Hockey League for the remainder of the season so the Minnesota Wild could make room on the active roster to recall defenseman Marco Scandella, who will be in the lineup Sunday night against the St. Louis Blues [8 p.m. ET on NBCSN].
Dumba, who hasn't dressed in any of the Wild's four games, has been on the active roster since the start of the season.
"We really didn't even have any thoughts of keeping him here this long, but he earned it," Wild coach Mike Yeo said of Dumba. "Every day, he came to the rink and he proved himself a little bit more. We would have been very comfortable putting him in a game. He's an 18-year-old and that says an awful lot about him. You can see his skating ability, you can see his execution and I was very pleased with the way he was defending."
Yeo broke the news to Dumba on Sunday.
"He handled it very well," Yeo said of Dumba. "I think this is a real positive experience for him. He learned a lot. He was a sponge while he was here and took everything in and at the same time it was helpful in the fact that next year [when] he comes to camp, he's comfortable around the guys. He knows the guys respect him an awful lot. He's that much more familiar with how we operate."
It was a big dream. [Messi] is probably the best athlete out there, so it's a big honor, for [Kuznetzov] as well. It's maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet the best player in soccer right now. I'm a big Barcelona fan and Messi fan, so it's huge. You can take [Michael] Jordan, [Mark] Messier, [Wayne] Gretzky, those kinds of [people]. It's an honor to meet. It's nice to be in that position.
— Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin told told Monumental Network after meeting soccer star Lionel Messi prior to Argentina's practice at Fed Ex Field in Landover, Md. on Friday