After just one season with the Florida Panthers, Jason Demers is heading back to the Pacific Division. The 29-year-old defenseman will start the season with the Arizona Coyotes.
Going the other way? His former Sharks teammate, Jamie McGinn.
Demers’ future with the Panthers has been up in the air for awhile. Though the five-year contract he signed as an unrestricted free agent last summer included a modified no trade clause, there’d been rumors well before the expansion draft that the Panthers were interested in moving him. According to George Richards of the Miami Herald, Dale Tallon had first attempted to ship Demers to Vancouver to acquire former Florida Panthers defenseman, Erik Gudbranson. Demers’ modified NTC allowed him to turn the trade down.
Dale Tallon tried sending Jason Demers to Vancouver to get Erik Gudbranson back but Demers turned deal down. Has a modified NTC. pic.twitter.com/N4qf0gpRht— George Richards (@GeorgeRichards) September 17, 2017
Demers started his hockey career as a guest at the Sharks’ 2007 development camp. He nearly went undrafted, with the Sharks selecting him in the seventh round (186 overall) of the 2008 draft, his final year of eligibility.
From there, he played with the Sharks’ then-AHL affiliate, the Worcester Sharks. It was there that he met Jamie McGinn and Logan Couture. All three would become friends as they bounced between Worcester and San Jose. By 2010, the three of them were spending most, if not all, of their time with the big club. Demers would go on to be an important piece to the Sharks’ defense, as well as adding an offensive upside to his game. He became well loved in the dressing room and the community for his loud, marketable personality.
Then the 2014-15 season happened. The Sharks struggled in a big way and in November 2014, Jason Demers, along with a 2016 third round draft pick, was sent to the Dallas Stars, in exchange for Brenden Dillon. The Sharks also retained 35% of his salary.
While at the time, Dillon was a top four defenseman for the Stars, their defense was also fairly weak. San Jose gave up a lot for what would become a bottom pairing defender.
Compare that to Demers now being traded one-for-one for Jamie McGinn, with Florida retaining 12.5% of his salary.
In 2014, after his best offensive season, Demers wasn’t worth an entire Brenden Dillon. Now, after seeing his defensive game grow in Dallas, Demers still isn’t worth an entire Jamie McGinn.
McGinn has bounced around the league over the past six years. After making the Sharks’ roster full time in 2011, McGinn found himself on the chopping block. Scouting reports from his time with the Ottawa 67s in juniors often noted how well he performed with linemate Logan Couture - likely a major reason that Sharks traded up to acquire both players in the 2006 and 2007 entry drafts. Despite their history, the two were never used on the same line with the Sharks. McGinn was often on the third or fourth line with limited minutes and never given much of a chance to really succeed.
He was traded to the Colorado Avalanche with prospects Mike Connolly and Michael Sgarbossa in exchange for Daniel Winnik, T.J. Galiardi and a seventh round pick. He would go on to re-sign twice with the Avalanche for two years each, but missed a significant amount of the 2014-15 season due to a genetic lower back condition that required surgery.
McGinn would eventually be packaged in another trade to the Buffalo Sabres at the 2015 draft. That same season, he was another trade deadline acquisition, this time for the Anaheim Ducks, who got him in exchange for just a conditional third round pick. He performed well for the Ducks, putting up 12 points in 21 games and two goals in seven post season games.
He did not re-sign with the Ducks though, and instead signed with the Arizona Coyotes in free agency. The Coyotes utilized his veteran presence, giving more ice time as a middle six player, but he didn’t quite have the bounce-back year he needed. In 72 games, he ended his tenure with 17 points.
It’s likely that the thought of being reunited with McGinn played a part in Demers’ decision to go to Arizona; he didn’t know that McGinn was the player he’d been traded for.
McGinn face-timed Demers (former teammates). Demers excited to join McGinn in AZ. McGinn told Demers he was going other way. Didn't know.— Sarah McLellan (@azc_mclellan) September 17, 2017
The trade is confusing, at best. Demers was easily the best addition the Panthers made in 2016 free agency and McGinn is hit-or-miss in offensive productivity with a chronic injury. Given the history of what these two have been traded for in the past, GM John Chayka committed theft here.
It’s unclear what Florida is doing, having lost Jaromir Jagr and Kyle Rau to free agency, Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault to the expansion draft, and done little to replace any of them. They did manage to replace Shawn Thornton with former Shark Micheal Haley, which makes more sense than the Demers-McGinn swap, but says a lot about their priorities.
Still, Demers and McGinn are both looking to bounce back this year and a change of scenery could help them find their footing.
The Pacific Division, at least, is getting stronger. While it’ll be nice to see Demers in the Shark Tank more often, where he’s still very loved, the sweater on his back won’t be teal and McGinn will be across the country, not on the bench next to him.
Daddy’s home. Almost.
Update: Demers and McGinn released statements on Twitter about the trade within minutes of each other this afternoon.
I'd like to thank the players, staff, people of @FlaPanthers and the city for making me feel at home this past year just wish the (cont.)— jason demers (@jasondemers5) September 18, 2017
Result would have been better! I'm very excited to join the @ArizonaCoyotes and make the desert my new home! #legkick #staytuned #howlin— jason demers (@jasondemers5) September 18, 2017
Thanks to everyone I have met along the way with the @ArizonaCoyotes, my teammates, staff and fans I won't forget.. looking forward to..— Jamie McGinn (@JamieMcGinn88) September 18, 2017
Starting my new chapter with the @FlaPanthers #letsgo— Jamie McGinn (@JamieMcGinn88) September 18, 2017