As first reported by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, the Sharks have acquired defenseman Brenden Dillon from the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Jason Demers and a 3rd round pick in 2016. Both defensemen have struggled so far this season but given that the 6'4" Dillon brings impressive defensive credentials from his prior two seasons in the league, is two years younger than Demers, carries a cap hit over $2 million smaller and is the established left-handed shot the Sharks have been craving in their top four, it's easy to see why Doug Wilson pulled the trigger on this deal.
During his rookie season in the lockout-shortened year, Dillon logged 21:22 a night while receiving more defensive zone starts and facing the toughest quality of competition on the Dallas blueline save for regular partner Stephane Robidas. Despite those impediments, the Stars were a significantly better possession team with Dillon on the ice compared to off it. They also allowed shots at a lower rate with Dillon on the ice than with any other regular defenseman.
Last season, Dillon again played the toughest minutes among Dallas blueliners, this time without the luxury of Robidas, who suffered a broken leg, for much of the year. He was a break-even player in terms of possession and, according to Corey Sznajder's data, broke up over 9% of neutral zone rushes at the defensive blueline, allowing opposing forwards to gain the zone with control of the puck 55.3% of the time compared to Demers who allowed opposing forwards to carry the puck over the blueline on his side of the ice 66.2% of the time. Both players were equally adept at moving the puck last season, each clocking in at a 24.1% completion rate on breakout passes.
Beyond the numbers, and it should be noted that despite Demers' struggles this season he more than held his own alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic on the team's top pair down the stretch last season, Dillon's size, left-handed shot and defensive ability make him a better fit on a second pairing with Brent Burns than Demers would have been. The question now is what the third pair, a problem spot this season, looks like in light of this deal. Demers may have been able to regain his effectiveness from last season if used in a different role but there's little doubt Dillon is the better, and younger, blueliner. Currently sporting a 975 PDO, there's also an argument to be made Dillon was a great buy-low candidate suffering from a spate of bad luck. Solid work by Doug Wilson, even if some aren't too happy about it:
— Logan Couture (@Logancouture) November 21, 2014
UPDATE: The Sharks have reportedly retained 35% (so roughly $1.2 million) of Demers' salary.