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The defender who simply defends the right way: Dylan DeMelo Jets Nation year in review

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Photo credit:© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Connor Baldwin
1 month ago
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Good afternoon, Jets Nation! It’s time to continue the end-of-season year in review series for your Winnipeg Jets. Earlier this afternoon I covered one of the Jets main goal scorers, Kyle Connor, and now I’ll be recapping one of the Jets main defenders from the 2023-24 season, Dylan DeMelo. If this is your first year in review, I’ll be breaking down DeMelo’s 2023-24 season and previewing what might he be doing in the 2024-25 season.
Without delaying, let’s look at Dylan DeMelo, the 31-year old from London, Ontario. Some people call DeMelo Josh Morrissey’s “right-hand man”, which is actually quite true, as he plays on the right side of the Jets top defence pairing on the right side with his right hand shot. The former 6th round, 179th overall pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft has seemingly found a home with the Jets, after spending the early part of his career with the San Jose Sharks and Ottawa Senators.
If you read my article about Kyle Connor from earlier today, you know that I talked about the main thing that Kyle Connor does well is score goals. DeMelo does the exact opposite of that, he’s the guy who stops people on the other team from scoring goals. He’s described as almost purely a defensive defenceman, and this could be why he compliments Morrissey’s more offensive play style so well. DeMelo’s scoring stats aren’t really all that important, since his job is to be the shut down guy, but there’s a couple things worth mentioning about DeMelo’s numbers from this season.
The 2023-24 season was the 1st time DeMelo played a 100% full season, playing in 82 games. He scored 3 goals, 3 shy of his career best 6 goals from last season. DeMelo did gather 28 assists this season, which is 7 better than his career high of 21 from last season. DeMelo’s 31 points is 4 better than his 2022-23 season. Could his numbers be aided by playing with Morrissey? Perhaps, or maybe DeMelo is finding a little more playmaking ability in his game in his 4th full season with the Jets.
The other number that jumps out for DeMelo in the 2023-24 season is his +46. I’ve mentioned before that +/- isn’t the best stat to assess a player, but +46 is a very impressive number, good enough for 2nd place in the NHL behind Gustav Forsling of the Florida Panthers at +56. DeMelo also led the Jets in blocked shots this season, with 139. Both numbers are accomplishments for DeMelo considering he is one of the Jets’ most frequent penalty killers.
The quite impressive season that DeMelo had this season with the Jets leads me to believe that he his now one of the most underrated defenceman in the entire league. Not only is DeMelo able to compliment Morrissey’s game so nicely, but his defence-first approach makes him able to take care of what needs to be done in the Jets end first before going on offence. This versatility allows DeMelo to be paired with another defensive defenceman if needed on the penalty kill, and he’ll be able to adapt to different situations that he’s used in throughout any given game.
DeMelo is unfortunately in the final year of his 4 year, 12 million dollar deal with the Jets. This makes DeMelo a big talking point for this off-season, as his future with the team is uncertain at the moment. His current average of 3 million per year will likely be going up a bit due to his recent performances, and being an unrestricted free agent will bring competition to sign DeMelo. Shutdown right handed shot defenceman like DeMelo are not easy to find, so the Jets have a real decision to make with DeMelo this off-season.
I think most fans would agree that the best move to make with DeMelo is to sign him as soon as possible. His season this year has all but certified himself as a great fit for this team, and he’s been a part of improving the team culture that’s been pushed for over the last few years. DeMelo was awarded for his efforts by the Jets this season with the Dan Snyder Memorial Award during the team’s year-end awards. This award is for a player who “embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward or recognition, so that his team and teammates might succeed”. That award description itself is enough to convince the average Jets fan that DeMelo needs to re-sign with the team this off-season.
What should you expect then from DeMelo with the Jets next season? Well 1st, the Jets need to make sure that they sign him. If they lose DeMelo to free agency it would be almost impossible to find a quick replacement that can do the job that DeMelo does for the Jets. 2nd, again if DeMelo does sign with the Jets, is make sure that he stays on a pairing with Morrissey, because they both seem to work so well with each other. I can’t begin to guess at what DeMelo’s next contract might look like, but at 31 years old, DeMelo still has at least another 4 years of high quality hockey left in him. His recent play has all but proven that he’s deserving of another good contract. Assuming that he’s back with the Jets next season, keep an eye out for DeMelo to have another impactful season. Most importantly, make sure that he receives the appreciation he deserves for the job he does for the Jets as the #1 shutdown defenceman who plays the right way on a nightly basis.

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