In a deal that caught a lot of fans a bit by surprise, Kamloops acquired 19-year-old goalie Kyle Dumba from the Calgary Hitmen in exchange for a conditional seventh round pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft.
This gives the Blazers a third goalie as expected starter and Vegas Golden Knights prospect Dylan Ferguson and incoming 17-year-old phenom Max Palaga both return.
Ferguson was stuck behind Connor Ingram the last two years but used the opportunity given to him while Ingram was at the U20 World Junior Championships to stand out. Of his 31 games played in 2016-17, he played 15 of them in this span. His play was enough for the Dallas Stars to draft him in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL draft. Dallas then moved him to Vegas as part of a deal for defenseman Marc Methot.
As a late birthdate and thus an incoming 19-year-old, it appeared that the net was firmly his for the coming season. Bringing in another 19-year-old in Kyle Dumba complicates that a little.
Dumba was a fourth round, 2013 WHL Bantam Draft pick by the Calgary Hitmen. He’s been mired in a backup role for his two years in Calgary. He split time with the Hitman and Calgary Mustangs of the AJHL back in 2015-16 and had an above 4.30 GAA with both teams. In 2016-17, he played in 28 games and put up a 4.00 GAA and 0.860 save percentage. Despite looking like a top prospect early on and even being named the CSSHL’s best goalie back in 2015, he has not found consistency. With overage netminder Nick Schneider coming over from the Medicine Hat Tigers in a trade earlier this summer, there was no room left at the Inn for Dumba.
The key here for the Blazers is that this a seventh round conditional draft pick. This is likely contingent on Dumba earning a spot on the Blazers. In essence it is a low risk move that could very well end up with a big reward. Last season, the Portland Winterhawks dealt a conditional seventh round choice for Cole Kehler and watched as the much-maligned backstop won the starting job and pushed out the incumbent Michael Bullion (strangely enough, to Medicine Hat where he pushed out Schneider). If Dumba does not do enough to warrant giving him a roster spot, then they are not even out a draft pick.
With Max Palaga being somewhat of an unknown in the backup spot, this starts to make more sense as the Blazers can make sure that he earns that role and does not just walk into camp with it already sewed up. There’s even the chance that Dumba finds his game and pushes Ferguson for starts.