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Matt Dumba agrees to 'bridge' contract with Wild

Defenseman gets two years, wants to 'grow as a player' after career season

by Dan Myers / NHL.com Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Defenseman Matt Dumba got a belated birthday present Thursday, agreeing to a two-year, $5.1 million contract with the Minnesota Wild.

Dumba, a restricted free agent who turned 22 on Monday, established NHL career highs in games played (81), goals (10), assists (16), points (26), power-play goals (six) and power-play points (18).

A native of Regina, Saskatchewan, Dumba was selected by the Wild in the first round (No. 7) of the 2012 NHL Draft. He has 19 goals, 25 assists and 44 points with a plus-9 rating in 152 regular-season NHL games over the past three seasons. The contract has an average annual value of $2.55 million.

"We have high expectations for Matt going forward," Wild assistant general manager Brent Flahr said. "We think he's going to be a point-producing defenseman and we hope he keeps going and improving. We know he's going to get his day, and hopefully, next time, it's a long-term deal that keeps him in a Wild uniform for a long time."

Each side agreed that a short-term contract would be in their best interest. Dumba will get a chance to build on last season and can earn a more lucrative contract in the future.

Video: STL@MIN: Dumba finishes the feed to trim lead to one

The Wild have four defensemen signed to a long-term contract, including three (Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella) younger than 27. They also are tight against the NHL salary cap after signing unrestricted free agent forwards Eric Staal and Chris Stewart to multiyear contracts July 1. Minnesota has $2,168,913 in cap space, according to General Fanager.

"A lot of guys are signing longer-term deals, and it's nice to have that security, but at the same time, it worked out for me to sign this bridge deal," Dumba said. "I just want to grow as a player. Getting that opportunity to do so and prove myself over the next couple of years I think is huge. I think I'll be right at my peak at the end of that and hopefully then I can sign something long term."

Dumba said he's excited to work under a new staff, led by coach Bruce Boudreau, who was hired in May. Boudreau hired Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Stevens as an assistant and put him in charge of the defense.

"He called me the other day," Dumba said. "We didn't talk too much about hockey, but both of us are excited. He likes my game and I loved his game growing up. I watched him closely. Just as much knowledge as I can absorb from him, I'm going to try and do my best. It's awesome having him here."

Stevens said earlier in July that he was eager to work with the defense, a group that includes Ryan Suter. Getting Dumba signed secures another piece that Flahr said is the Wild's strength.

"Just in talking to [Stevens], he's real excited to get his hands on him to see if he can help," Flahr said. "We have a young [defense] and Scott is real excited to work with our group."

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