GM Kevin Cheveldayoff finally made a move to address the right side of his defense, as he traded a 3rd round pick in the 2020 NHL draft to Ottawa in exchange for Dylan DeMelo. Due to the entire Byfuglien saga and the off-season Jacob Trouba trade, Winnipeg severely lacked right shot defensemen and they get a solid one for a cheap price in this deal. Following this move, the Jets still have around $4 million in cap space to work with, and we don’t see how Cheveldayoff doesn’t make at least 2-3 more moves in the next week to help solidify his team for a playoff push.
Dylan DeMelo is a 26-year old right shot defenseman making 900k this season, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. DeMelo was drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 NHL draft by the San Jose Sharks. In the four seasons of data we have on DeMelo, he has a respectable -1.39 career AB score for a defenseman and is coming off his best AB season since his rookie year at -1.98. DeMelo has abysmal penalty taken/drawn and giveaway/takeaway ratios with 13:6 and 38:8 respectively. However, he was Top 3 on the Senators in terms of +/- with a +3 rating. New Senators coach DJ Smith relied heavily on DeMelo in his 49 games this season, as he was averaging around three minutes more per night than his average career ice time of 16:51. Points wise, DeMelo hasn’t found the back of the net yet this season but has registered 10 assists in 49 games played. We wouldn’t be surprised to see DeMelo play on the top defensive pair in Winnipeg with Josh Morrisey, which would be a tremendous opportunity for a player in a contract year, especially given the current high demand for right-shot defensemen.
Winnipeg currently has a 30-25-5 record for 65pts in 60 games, which is 3 points back of the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference currently held by the Arizona Coyotes. In their last 10 games, however, they are 5-4-1, which may have been the factor prompting Kevin Cheveldayoff to address a major issue with his team. As we previously mentioned, we don’t think his work is done, as we see the Jets going after bigger name defensemen such as Anaheim’s Josh Manson or Minnesota’s Matt Dumba. The Jets still have their 1st and 2nd round picks and has the young, NHL caliber center that fits the Wild’s asking price in Jack Roslovic. Perhaps we could see Roslovic packaged with a prospect and the Jets’ first-round pick in order to bring an elite defenseman like Dumba to Winnipeg and help them make their playoff push.
It will surely be interesting to see what other moves GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and his group have in store for us in the next week until Monday’s deadline, and we expect them to be very busy over the next several days as well. Much more to come.