Matt Dumba returning to Wild lineup Tuesday after missing 2 games as healthy scratch

The Minnesota Wild is in Florida looking to snap a two-game losing streak Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and it appears defenseman Matt Dumba is set to return to the lineup.

Wild coach Dean Evason said as much after practice on Monday. Dumba has missed the last two games, a 5-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes and a 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers, as a healthy scratch. The move fueled speculation that the Wild might move Dumba before the NHL trade deadline on March 3.

That’s nothing new to the veteran defenseman, who has been the subject of trade rumors the last several years. Evason said it was his decision to sit Dumba, and he hopes the message was received.

"We’re not sitting a guy out to embarrass him. We’re not sitting him out to, you know, it’s to have a message," Evason said. "If the message gets taken the right way, then that player will come back with a bite and with an edge and do the things, whatever it is as a coaching staff, that we’ve deemed why he was out of the lineup, that person can’t do those and he has to do what not only we feel, but he feels that it’s going to allow his team to have success by how he plays. We think Matt Dumba will do that."

Dumba has played in 43 games for the Wild this season and has just 12 points, with four goals and eight assists. Dumba is in his 10th season with the Wild, and has 79 goals and 155 assists in 562 games.

He was also a key figure in the NHL’s Hockey Diversity Alliance, which aims to make players of color and minorities more welcome to hockey. Evason said Monday the decision to sit Dumba isn’t taken lightly.

The Wild is currently eighth in the Western Conference at 54 points (25-16-4), and is 5-3-2 in its last 10 games.

"There’s a lot that goes into that decision. It’s not a spur of the moment decision. We didn’t make that decision on a turnover or on a play that happened. We make those decisions on compounded things that continue to happen," Evason said. "Our process is we speak to the player way prior, we show clips, we talk about it. We ask for a player to play a certain way, and if they continually don’t or we see the same thing, then our last resort is to sit a player out. We don’t want to sit people out, but you have to for different reasons."