Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing series in which Sharks insider Kevin Kurz will highlight a different Sharks player every weekday leading up to the start of training camp.
Name/Position: Dylan DeMelo, D
Salary cap hit: $650,000, signed through 2017-18
2015-16 year in review: After getting a brief two-game stint with the Sharks in mid-October in which he struggled, Dylan DeMelo returned in early December and established himself as a legitimate contributor at the NHL level. In 45 games, the former sixth round pick finished with two goals and two assists for four points and an even rating, mostly on the third pair, but DeMelo saw some power play time late in the year when it became evident that he had earned the trust of coach Pete DeBoer.
DeMelo was pushed from the active lineup when the club acquired Roman Polak from Toronto at the trade deadline, and somewhat remarkably he wasn’t needed in the playoffs, as the Sharks were able to dress the same six defensemen for all 24 games.
A restricted free agent, DeMelo signed a two-year, $1.3 million contract extension on July 11.
2016-17 outlook: DeMelo again finds himself out of the top six after San Jose signed David Schlemko in the offseason to a four-year deal. At this point, the 23-year-old is likely slotted as the seventh defenseman on the depth chart, and with the luxury the Sharks have with their AHL team in the same building, DeMelo could even find himself starting the season with the Barracuda. He’s not going to push Schlemko or any of the top four out of the lineup, and Brenden Dillon’s job is probably safe, too, as he’s the most physically imposing defenseman that San Jose employs.
Still, DeBoer wouldn’t have any hesitation at this point in playing DeMelo if necessary. The defenseman is still just 23 years old so a little more minor league seasoning could do him some good. At the same time, Mirco Mueller is still in the organization and looking to rebound from a down year, so DeMelo may have to fight to keep his place as the club’s first replacement option on the blue line if Mueller improves.
With the Sharks likely to lose a defenseman in the expansion draft next summer, DeMelo provides some depth in that regard, too. His contract is a one-way deal in 2017-18.