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Wild pleased with solid pipeline on defense

by Mike G. Morreale

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- The Minnesota Wild have quietly accumulated a formidable stable of defense prospects in the pipeline, including Matt Dumba, Christian Folin and Gustav Olofsson.

All three players have been on display here at the Traverse City Prospect Tournament under the tutelage of coach Kurt Kleinendorst. Dumba, a first-round pick (No. 7) of the Wild in the 2012 NHL Draft, is making his third appearance at the tournament.

Dumba (6-foot, 183 pounds), who played in 13 games for Minnesota in 2013-14, is looking to stick with the big club this season. Kleinendorst, the coach of the team's American Hockey League-affiliate, the Iowa Wild, acknowledged that Dumba just needs to play a simple game.

"Matt has all the tools and now we just have to help him find the way to play the game the right way," Kleinendorst said.

Dumba knows what he needs to do. It's just a matter of putting those concepts in motion on the ice.

"I just need to play to my strengths and not get too out of control," Dumba said. "I just need to play a simple game and not complicate things. Just let the game come to me rather than forcing some stuff which I tended to do when I was younger. I think I'm doing a better job at that and we'll see how this year goes."

Kleinendorst has been very pleased with the play of Folin, who signed as a free agent with the team in March.

"He's a little bit like a man among boys," Kleinendorst said. "I got a chance to see him at our development camp for the first time and he does some really good things; he was a good get by our organization. He's strong and steady, has got that game that will fit in really well because all we want all our D to do is keep it simple and he does keep it simple but is capable of being even more than that."

Folin, a 6-3, 215-pound Swede, spent the past two seasons with UMass-Lowell in Hockey East and played one game for the Wild last season. Olofsson (6-4, 191), another Swede taken in the second round (No. 46) of the 2013 draft, was signed to an entry-level contract after just one season with Colorado College in the NCHC.

"We were a little challenged when it came to our defenders but this year we really have a nice group of prospects," Kleinendorst said. "It's not a matter of if Olofsson is going to be an NHL player but a matter of when. He has the size and shot and doesn't have an ounce of fat on his body. He's got that young boys' physique, so when he matures and fills out and gets a little stronger, it's only going to help him."


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