Despite a nice rookie campaign, Dylan DeMelo will find himself in a battle for playing time in San Jose this year.
It must have been an interesting year for rookie blue liner Dylan DeMelo.
In one sense, DeMelo was a pleasant surprise in making the San Jose Sharks out of training camp, and he showed flashes of his potential as a puck-moving defenseman.
On the other hand, DeMelo didn’t feature in any of the playoff games for team teal as they elected to bring in Roman Polak to help bolster their blue line in the rugged Western Conference.
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So, where does that leave DeMelo heading into next season for the Sharks?
Yesterday, he did sign a new two-year deal to remain in San Jose as he will look to continue his development in teal. However, it was interesting that next year’s deal is actually a two-way deal for DeMelo before transitioning to a one-way deal in 2017.
Here’s the breakdown from General Fanager on the details of his new contract:
As you can see, the two-way deal means DeMelo will probably see time with the San Jose Barracuda at different points during the season.
With DeMelo now under contract for next year, how does he fit into the plans for the 2016-17 season?
Well, first and foremost, he will likely end up as the seventh defensemen for team teal on most nights.
Following the signing of David Schlemko this offseason, DeMelo will be forced into a battle with Schlemko and Brenden Dillon for playing time on the third-pairing.
In 45 games during his rookie season, DeMelo registered two goals and two assists with an even rating in 13:37 of ice time per game. He did show the ability to handle extended minutes when Marc-Edouard Vlasic went down during the final weeks of the regular season.
In terms of his Corsi numbers, DeMelo was actually pretty good considering he was just a rookie ranking ninth on the Sharks with a 52.3 percent clip, ahead of veterans Paul Martin and Justin Braun.
DeMelo showcased an ability to move the puck up the ice and another option from the point as he notched 42 shots on goal last year. While he still needs to build strength to be able to withstand the battles along the boards, he is still just 22-years-old so there is time for him develop.
As San Jose remains in win-now mode next season though, it will be intriguing to see how DeMelo factors into the equation. Schlemko and Dillon are probably better options at this point in time, but DeMelo’s development is still vital to this organization that has really struggled to groom their own defensemen.
Add it all up and it seems that DeMelo will need to have a very good training camp to be able to unseat any of the perceived top-six guys. While he certainly provides insurance should someone go down with injury, he still needs to find ice time in order to grow his game. It will be an uphill battle for him, but he’s still someone who is part of the future for this Sharks team moving forward.