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Sharks re-sign Dylan DeMelo to two-year contract

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San Jose re-ups its sixth defenseman to a cheap contract.

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 16: Dylan DeMelo #74 of the San Jose Sharks skates with the puck during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on January 16, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. The Sharks defeated the Coyotes 3-2 in an overtime shooto
Dylan DeMelo passes well with others.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks announced they have re-signed defenseman Dylan DeMelo to a two-year contract with an acerage annual value of $900,000. The contract comes in a bit above what his $715,000 qualifying offer would have been, but a touch under what Matt Cane projected a two-year deal to cost San Jose against the salary cap.

DeMelo, 25, took over the sixth defensemen spot from Tim Heed after Heed suffered an injury in late November. While individually DeMelo’s statistical profile was similar to Heed’s, the Brenden Dillon - Tim Heed pair produced more impressive numbers than the DeMelo - Dillon pair during their time together.

Dylan DeMelo re-signs a 2-year contract with the San Jose Sharks
DeMelo doesn’t look good by this metric
@MimicoHero

DeMelo’s shot impact, when adjusted for his usage — teammates, zone starts, etc. — have been just below average the last two seasons, which is to say, he’s not providing much help beyond the solid even-strength individual scoring he offers.

What he does bring to the blue line is solid passing play.

Dylan DeMelo signs 2-year contract with the San Jose Sharks
DeMelo’s passing has improved bigly
@RK_stimp, @shutdownline

This season, DeMelo logged some pretty incredible passes. He contributed to a high percentage of the Sharks' shots while he was on the ice, and his passes and shots were very likely to involve pre-shot movement, an important prerequisite for goal-scoring. DeMelo’s human-tracked passing number suggest his defense in terms of allowing shots was below average. However, it appears the defender was responsible for limiting quality shots against.

San Jose Sharks re-sign defenseman Dylan DeMelo to a two-year, $900,000 contract
Sharks allowed slightly fewer unblocked shots with DeMelo on the ice than without him
hockeyviz.com @ineffectivemath

There’s a clear, if marginal, impact on the amount of unblocked shots San Jose allows at even-strength with DeMelo on the ice compared to without him. The chart below shows Dylan’s solid impact on team shots when compared to his teammates. His impact on expected goals against is an improvement upon his impact on total shots against, once again highlighting his shot-blocking and dangerous chance-limiting abilities.

Dylan DeMelo signs 2-year contract worth $900,000 with the San Jose Sharks
Heed’s numbers seem ... better
@billius27 and corsica.hockey

According to Emmanuel Perry’s wins above replacement (WAR) metric, DeMelo “contributed” nearly half a win below replacement level per 82 games last season, ranking 167 among 221 defenders who played at least 500 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey last season. DeMelo ranked third-worst in WAR among San Jose defensemen last season, ahead of Justin Braun and Brenden Dillon.

All of these figures suggest DeMelo’s contract is just about right. His contract would rank him 186th-most expensive defender among those currently signed to deals for the 2018-19 season, exactly that of a sixth defender. It’s easy to see what the Sharks staff likes about DeMelo — he is a good passer and limits dangerous chances — but it’s difficult to understand why they like him so much more than they do Tim Heed.