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."
We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.
— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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