Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing series in which Kevin Kurz will highlight a different Sharks player every day leading up to the start of training camp.
Name/Position: Brenden Dillon, D
2015-16 cap hit/contract: $3.27 million, signed through 2019-20
2014-15 year in review: The Sharks acquired Brenden Dillon from Dallas on Nov. 21, hoping to add some physicality to their blue line along with a left-handed shot. The price was fairly high, in that San Jose not only surrendered Jason Demers and a third round pick in 2016, but retained a portion of Demers’ salary.
The move was consistent with Doug Wilson’s stated plan of acquiring players that “fit now and for the future,” and the Sharks agreed to a five-year contract extension with the restricted free agent over the summer.
Like all of the Sharks’ blue liners, Dillon had his ups and downs during the season. In 60 games after the trade, Dillon posted 2 goals and 7 assists, 54 penalty minutes and a -11 rating. He was paired mostly with Justin Braun or Brent Burns, but also saw some games with rookie Mirco Mueller.
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2015-16 outlook: Dillon figures to start the season as a third pair defenseman, as Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Braun, Paul Martin and Burns will likely comprise the top four. That means his partner is yet to be determined, and could end up being any one of Mueller, Matt Tennyson, Dylan DeMelo or someone else.
One particular benefit of Dillon is that he can play either side. The Sharks can experiment with all kinds of combinations featuring the solidly built defenseman, who finished near the middle of the pack on in terms of possession stats last season among Sharks who played in at least 50 games.
It’s likely, too, that the six-foot-four, 225-pounder will have to defend his teammates from time to time, considering the Sharks could be without many fighters in the lineup on many nights. Peter DeBoer would like to play a more skilled fourth line, so even if a player like Mike Brown is healthy, he may not get much playing time. Dillon is more than willing to fill that void, as he showed in his first season in teal with four fights.
Considering the contract extension they signed him to in the offseason, the Sharks will expect Dillon to improve and firmly establish himself as a part of the team's young core. Always one of the last players off of the ice for practice, there's reason to believe that the 24-year-old will continue to get better and become a real force on the blue line.