Tyler Cuma appeared destined for NHL success. Lauded as a character leader who could play the game anyway you wanted, the captain of Ottawa 67s was Minnesota's first round draft pick (23rd overall) in 2008.
Unfortunately a knee injury only a couple of months after the draft seemingly derailed his career. He would miss a lot of time rehabbing, and struggled and regressed upon his return. Yet he always played with passion on every shift.
Cuma really needed those lost two seasons of junior hockey. While he was developing nicely as a fantastic defender at the junior level, he was still learning all the nuances of the position since he had played center until he was 15 years old.
Cuma turned pro in 2010 and never found his groove. In four seasons in the AHL he would only score twice and 31 assists in 201 career games. The knee injury continued to plague him early in his AHL career. Being undersized by defenseman standards did not help either. Meanwhile the Wild continued stockpiling young defensive prospects, pushing Cuma further down the depth chart.
Cuma did get into one NHL game with the Minnesota Wild, playing against Chicago in a late season game in April of 2012. He was on the ice for just 11 minutes, plus spent two minutes in the penalty box.
Cuma left pro hockey in North America in 2014 and continued his career in Austria.