JOHNSON, DUMONT BRING LEADERSHIP, EXPERIENCE TO WILD ORGANIZATIONJul 2, 2019
By Jacob Born
Yesterday kicked off free agency in the hockey world, which officially starts the 2019-20 season. Players found new homes and coupled with the NHL Entry Draft just a couple weeks ago, rosters both at the NHL and AHL level are quickly beginning to take shape.
Four new players were welcomed into the Minnesota Wild organization yesterday, as forwards Mats Zuccarello and Ryan Hartman signed one-way contracts while forwards Gabriel Dumont and Luke Johnson each signed two-way deals. With the number of forwards in the Wild organization, both Johnson and Dumont project to spend significant time in Iowa, barring an impressive showing in training camp.
Heading into the new season, the biggest hole to fill was at center. Former captain Cal O’Reilly signed with Lehigh Valley and Luke Kunin is destined for a full season in Minnesota, the only player who played meaningful minutes at the pivot was Colton Beck, who still played more at wing during last season. Now, with the signings of Johnson and Dumont, the Wild have a strong amount of depth down the middle and any rookie who enters the lineup has the ability to ease into the role rather than have a trial by fire.
Wild fans should be familiar with Johnson, as the 24-year-old spent his first three professional seasons in the Chicago Blackhawks organization, suiting up for 199 games with the Rockford IceHogs and an additional 15 in the NHL. Of those 199 games, 27 came against the Wild, where he notched 12 points (4g, 8a).
What Iowa fans can expect is some balanced scoring from the center. Johnson has 78 points at the AHL level, splitting those points evenly with 39 goals and 39 assists. He also increased his scoring every season he’s played in the AHL, initially starting his career with 17 points in 2016-17, when he also was named Rockford’s Rookie of the Year, and posted 30 points (13g, 17a) in 2017-18.
Another key aspect to Johnson’s game is that when it matters most, he steps up. Johnson played three seasons at the University of North Dakota, where he recorded 66 points (30g, 36a) in 127 games and in each of those three years, Johnson helped bring the Fighting Hawks to the playoffs. He was named to the NCAA All-Regional Team twice in those three seasons and won the NCAA Frozen Four with North Dakota in 2016. He continued strong postseason play with the IceHogs in 2018, when he netted four goals and four assists for eight points in 13 Calder Cup Playoffs games.
At 24 years old, Johnson gives the Wild a young player with plenty of experience at the NCAA and AHL levels and could be a valuable depth piece for Minnesota in the future.
As for Dumont, he comes in and will be a very valuable part of the leadership core for Iowa. Dumont signs with Iowa after playing for Syracuse, where he was the captain last season after being named an alternate captain in 2017-18. It was the second time he earned the captaincy, as he wore a C with Hamilton as well.
Dumont is a veteran center who will be a critical part of helping the young prospects in the Wild’s system to grow. So far in his 10-year career, Dumont has suited up for 486 games in the AHL and another 87 in the NHL. He leads not just in experience but also on the scoresheet, amassing 277 points (117g, 160a) in the AHL and nine points (4g, 9a) in the NHL. He’s notched at least 40 points in each of his last three full AHL seasons and is primed to be an immediate contributor for Iowa.
Much like Johnson, Dumont has also performed well in the postseason. Twice in his career Dumont has been a part of an extended playoff run, playing 20 games with Hamilton in 2011 and 22 with Syracuse in 2017. When he was a member of the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL, he won the league championship in 2009 and finished runner-up in the Memorial Cup that season.
Both players, should they end up with Iowa, will be an important part of the team and should make immediate impacts on the ice and in the locker room. The seeds of the 2019-20 season have been watered. Now it’s time to watch them bloom.