Dylan DeMelo weaseled his way into our hearts in fill-in duty near the end of last season and his reputation grew stronger still when Roman Polak drew the ire of more than a few regular posters on this website. So now that emotion can mostly be set aside, just how good is DeMelo and where does he fit in to the Sharks future?
It’s complicated. While DeMelo certainly played well in spurts last season, he did it while playing against weak competition and in sheltered minutes. The problem with DeMelo as a prospect is that his playing time with the Sharks hasn’t answered many of our questions.
The David Schlemko signing almost certainly relegates DeMelo to the Barracuda, where he will battle with Mirco Mueller to be the first defender called up when something goes wrong. Here’s what Hockey’s Future said about DeMelo:
DeMelo heads into training camp looking to crack the Sharks' defense corps after spending two full seasons with AHL affiliate Worcester. While his game is not as attention-grabbing as some of the other prospects vying for the lower pairing spots in San Jose, he is a quintessential defenseman who will rarely do anything that really hurts the team. He could start the 2015-16 season with San Jose's new affiliate (the Barracuda will play their games in the same arena as the Sharks), but could be one of the first players recalled if the situation warrants.
I think that’s fair. He’s not going to blow anyone away, but he’s also unlikely to be the guy blamed for a loss. What does that mean? He’s difficult to evaluate. NHL players are often blamed too heavily for making mistakes and not praised enough for the positive ones, meaning a guy like DeMelo is prone to be overrated by cautious coaches and fans.
So it’s tough. We’ll need to see more from DeMelo in tougher situations before I feel comfortable calling him a known quantity. For now he’s a perfectly suitable No. 7 defender.
Name: Dylan DeMelo
Age (as of 10/12/16): 23
2015-16 Team: Sharks/Barracuda
Where he’ll (probably) be next year: Barracuda
What we like: Simple, diverse and relatively mistake-free game.
What to improve on: Creating more offensively and being more of a positive force than settling for being net neutral.
You only get to score your first goal once. I think.