SAN JOSE — Brenden Dillon’s enjoyed getting to know his new defensive partner.
“It’s been awesome. [David Schlemko]’s a great guy,” Dillon said.
Schlemko, who the San Jose Sharks signed as a free agent this offseason, has played alongside Dillon in training camp. On paper, the pair seems like a natural fit. Dillon plays a physical, stay-at-home style, while Schlemko is a puck-moving defenseman who “fits where the game is going,” according to Sharks general manager Doug Wilson.
Their skillsets mesh, but Dillon and Schlemko are the only pairing among the Sharks’ top six defenders that shoot from the same side. Both are left-handed shots, meaning their strong side is on the left side of the blueline.
But the Sharks’ newest defenseman isn’t very concerned.
“Some guys really like to play their strong side, I’ve always played both.” Schlemko said.
“I don’t think it should be an issue for us.”
Dillon said he isn’t worried either, and mentioned they both have experience playing both sides. Dillon played on his off side in parts of his first year in San Jose alongside Mirco Mueller and former Shark Matt Irwin, while Schlemko’s played on the right side last year in New Jersey, and previously for Arizona. The pair’s deliberately switched sides in drills together, too, in order to prepare for inevitable situations on the ice.
“From when we start off at a face-off, if our forwards are switching off in the d-zone, or we get crossed up in the o-zone, just stay there,” Dillon said. “I think that’s something where if we are able to become full-on either side, then I just think it makes it easier in the long run.”
Head coach Pete DeBoer has spoken highly of Schlemko’s skating ability, and previously said he and Dillon will be given “every opportunity” to build chemistry together. He’s not yet decided how he’s going to utilize the pair, but has an idea.
“I’m leaning to playing Schlemko on his off side, but we’ll see.” DeBoer said today.
“That’s all game play and more practices, and we’ll kind of see what comes out. It’s too early to be making concrete decisions on that.”
Their sides may not be set, but they will most likely play alongside each other when the Sharks open their season October 12th against the Los Angeles Kings. Knowing that, Dillon reached out to Schlemko this offseason, and has taken every opportunity to become closer to his new partner.
“I’ve gotten to him off the ice for the first couple days and for a week or two now that we’ve been back,” Dillon said. “[We’ve been] building that chemistry, whether it’s talking about certain plays before we even get on the ice for practice, or getting out there and chatting after drills and seeing what we can do better for the next one.”