Programming note: Coyotes-Sharks coverage starts Saturday at 7 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
SAN JOSE -- Jason Demers admitted that a change of scenery could be beneficial, speaking with the local media shortly after he was traded to Dallas along with a third round pick in 2016 for defenseman Brenden Dillon and before he was to hurry off and catch a flight bound for Texas later on Friday.
“You never want to leave this place, and this is home, but it’s been an up-and-down year a little bit,” said Demers, who has three assists and a -6 rating after a career-high 34 points last season. “You never know, sometimes change is a good thing. I’m going to stay open-minded and stay positive and take this as the best situation for me, going to a young team like that. We’ll see what happens.”
The 26-year-old is among the more popular players with the fans and his teammates. The Sharks are the only organization he’s ever known since he was drafted in the seventh round in 2008.
Demers played his 300th career NHL game, all with the Sharks, on Thursday against Florida. It was his last in teal, though, as he was pulled off the ice just before the team began practice on Friday morning.
“It’s surprising. The words aren’t quite there yet. It hasn’t quite sunk in,” Demers said. “Probably when I fly out there in a little bit it will start to sink in. It’s different. It’s been five, six years since I’ve been here. It’s going to be a change.”
“It’s a business, right? These things happen. I guess they saw a way to make the team better. … Hopefully the team does well and hopefully it’s good for both of us.”
General manager Doug Wilson indicated that the move wasn’t made to mentally jolt his struggling club, which has lost five of its last seven (2-4-1) and sits in fifth place in the Pacific Division.
Acquiring the 24-year-old Dillon, who will likely be in the lineup on Saturday against Arizona, was done solely for the purpose of improving his hockey team. Dillon differs from Demers in that he’s younger, is a left-handed shot, and is bigger, standing at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds.
The Sharks will retain 35 percent of Demers' salary after the defenseman signed a two-year, $6.8 million deal in the offseason. Dillon brings a salary cap hit of $1.25 million and is a pending restricted free agent, according to CapGeek.com.
Dillon has one assist and 26 penalty minutes in 20 games with the Stars, and is fifth on the team with 27 hits. He has 26 points (9g, 17a) in 149 career games with Dallas over parts of four seasons.
“This is a deal that I would have done in the summer, I would to today, and I would do tomorrow. I’ve shared what our vision is, and players that fit for now and the future,” Wilson said.
How does Wilson, who said he’s been interested in Dillon for some time, expect his new piece to fit in?
“Great skating defenseman, lots of size, physicality. Can play an up-tempo game. He’s got a multitude of skills that fit really well,” Wilson said. “He’s a young player that’s already played in this league for quite awhile. He just fits that role, the big left shot guy that can complement what we have.
“We’re not going to put any limitations on him. He’s a quality kid. We did a lot of research. Both players are quality people with great character. We will miss Jason a lot as a player and also as a person. Jason’s commitment to the community and everything, we stand for as an organization. We thank him a lot. We do.”
Todd McLellan will welcome another defenseman that plays a more physical style, something his club has been lacking on the back end.
“He has some bite,” McLellan said. “He’s capable of moving that big body around and then he uses it with some physicality. I remember him jumping into the play a lot and skating so well that he can be aggressive, not only physically, but also pressuring up the ice and joining the rush and that kind of stuff.”
The Sharks’ coach was on the same page as the general manager in expressing that the trade was not done in order to send any message to his inconsistent roster.
“I don’t think you ever make a move just for that sake. If you do, then that’s a mistake,” McLellan said.
“Our organization made a move that we thought would help our hockey club, obviously for the present, but also for the long term. We felt that we needed an ingredient back there that we didn’t necessarily have. To get that, you have to give up a very good asset, and that’s where Jason comes into play.”
The Sharks and Stars will play each other twice more -- Feb. 19 in Dallas and April 6 at SAP Center.
Demers admitted he already looked at the schedule.
“Oh yeah, I already know when I’m coming to give it to the Sharks,” he said with a smile.
“I’ve appreciated the people here and the organization and the players and the fans have accepted me like family. I consider this place home. I’ll always have a foothold here I think, and I’ll always come back here. I’m going to miss this place, miss the rink, and miss the people. It’s a great place to live and play. Obviously, I’m going to miss the guys.”