The Winnipeg Jets have signed defenceman Dylan DeMelo to a four-year, $12 million contract, beginning in 2020-21. The new contract carries a $3 million annual average value and begins the process of building up a very weak blueline that saw many departures following the 2018-19 NHL season.
General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has officially made it a priority to address the team’s needs on back-to-back days, as Tuesday evening’s first round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft saw the Jets draft a player very capable of stepping into second-line centre duties, while Wednesday morning provided the new DeMelo contract.
DeMelo – a player head coach Paul Maurice raved about following his insertion into the lineup midway through the 2019-20 campaign – proved to be a substantial defensive contributor, helping Winnipeg’s transition play, while ensuring the team kept attacking shots coming to Vezina Trophy-winning netminder Connor Hellebuyck from the perimeter.
The 27-year-old defender chose to re-sign with the city he actually called ‘enjoyable’ and ‘a good market’ during his brief stay in 2019-20. This move by Chevy ensured that the 6-foot-1, 200-pound stay-at-home defenceman did not hit the open market for Friday’s beginning of the free agency period.
A calming presence on the blueline, DeMelo was a +1, had six penalty minutes and 10 shots on net in his 10 games with the club in 2019-20. For his career, the London, ON. product has seven goals, 64 points, 131 penalty minutes and a +4 rating in 269 games. Considering he spent a good portion of time with the struggling Ottawa Senators, those stats are significantly better than they might even appear.
Winnipeg now has DeMelo, Josh Morrissey, Neal Pionk, Tucker Poolman and Carl Dahlstrom signed for the coming 2020-21 season, while the team also announced last week that it had extended a qualifying offer to fellow blueliner Sami Niku. NHL free agency will provide the Jets with the remaining defencemen the team so desperately needs.