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What should the Sharks do about Dylan DeMelo?

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The DeMelo Dilemma

NHL: Preseason-Vancouver Canucks at San Jose Sharks Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Turns out Dylan DeMelo isn’t waiver eligible. That makes the decision to keep DeMelo up with the Sharks a whole lot more sensible, but it also means the Sharks face an interesting dilemma when it comes to the 23-year-old defender.

The Sharks depth chart, as it stands now, clearly has DeMelo as the seventh defender. That’s the way it should be, for despite the promise he showed in fill-in duty last year, he’s just not near as good as any of the other six defenders on the roster. Here’s a look at his with-or-without-you (WOWY) chart from HockeyViz.com.

If this chart seems overwhelming, let me break it down for you: the blue boxes clumped in the middle show DeMelo without that group of players, the red bunch show players without DeMelo and the black bunch are those players with DeMelo.

We can take away from this chart that DeMelo plays a very defensive style. When he’s not on the ice, the Sharks play better offensively but don’t really improve on the defensive side of the ice. We should note the Sharks often paired DeMelo with top end partners while playing him against not-so-tough competition. He might be good, but let’s not go over the top.

DeMelo also doesn’t make much ($650,000), which means he’s not a burden on the Sharks’ cap, but shoving him in the press box is a waste of his value as a player. The way I see it, the Sharks have four choices: Play him, trade him, bench him or waive him. We’ve already covered the “play him” scenario, so let’s check out the other two.

Waive Him

This would be impossibly stupid. DeMelo might not be a blue-chip prospect, but his age, contract and NHL experience mean he’s worth more than nothing to another NHL team. The Sharks won’t waive DeMelo unless they literally have no other choice (which I strongly doubt).

Bench Him

The Sharks needed DeMelo last year thanks to injuries to Paul Martin and Marc-Edouard Vlasic at different points. They might need him again this year and would be kicking themselves if their depth is sent packing for a fourth-round draft pick. That being said, if San Jose is confident in Mirco Mueller’s ability to fill in on the bottom pairing this prospect becomes less frightening.

Trade Him

This is the best course of action if the Sharks get a good package for DeMelo. He almost certainly will not command a first round draft pick in my mind, but a second or third rounder would be a fair return as San Jose looks to further restock its prospect cupboard.

If the Sharks do trade him, my guess is it won’t be until we get closer to the trade deadline and teams look to bolster their rosters. For now, head coach Peter DeBoer will almost certainly look to get DeMelo some ice time if for no other reason than to keep him in game shape.