Top News

GARRIOCH: Dylan DeMelo didn't have to go very far to make his debut with the Jets

Dylan DeMelo
Dylan DeMelo

Moved to the Winnipeg Jets, Dylan DeMelo didn’t have to move far to make his debut.

All he had to do was take a trip down the hall.

The former Ottawa Senators defenceman, dealt to the Jets in exchange for a third-round pick by general manager Pierre Dorion before the club faced the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday at home, suited up for the Jets on Thursday night at the Canadian Tire Centre. He admitted it was going to strange.

“It’s going to be a little weird. It was funny coming here today and going to the away locker room,” DeMelo said Thursday morning. “Everybody has been great so far, very welcoming, and it was good to get out there and see the guys. Everything has been really good.”

Traded to the Senators by the San Jose Sharks as part of the Erik Karlsson deal, DeMelo reiterated that he saw this move coming. An unrestricted free agent on July 1, the two sides had informal talks about a contract, but no offers were ever exchanged. That’s because both likely knew where they stood and there was little chance they would find common ground in discussions.

The belief is DeMelo’s camp likely wanted a long-term contract and the Senators weren’t willing go that route because this organization has defence prospects on the way. Not only are Erik Brannstrom and Christian Wolanin with the club’s AHL affiliate in Belleville, the Senators also have Jacob Bernard-Docker at North Dakota and Finnish blueliner Lassi Thomson, the club’s top pick in last year’s draft.

Preparing to the face the Sabres, DeMelo got the call from Dorion just as he was having lunch with his wife, Jessica.

“I was just having a pre-game meal at home,” said DeMelo. “I don’t like to eat too early so I take it home. I was just eating at the kitchen table with my wife and saw a call from (Dorion), and when you see Pierre is calling at this time of year, when we haven’t had much contract negotiations, I figured I was getting dealt.

“I answered it. He thanked me for everything I’ve done here and he said it wasn’t an easy phone call to make, and he told me I was going to Winnipeg. There were a ton of emotions: Disappointed to leave but, at the same time really happy to be here in Winnipeg, and I think this is a great team. It’s a great fit for me.

“I’m really looking forward to playing some big games here down the stretch and, hopefully, get into the playoffs.”

With the Jets starting a three-game road trip here with other stops in Buffalo and Washington, DeMelo took Jessica to the airport so she could go back to their home in London, Ont., on Wednesday night and then joined the Jets at their hotel in Kanata so he could get to know some of the players.

He met most of his new teammates at breakfast Thursday morning before heading to the rink. He actually appreciated the time he had to get his stuff together and pack up for the rest of the season.

“I saw a few of the guys (Wednesday), I went to the hotel and I thought I’d get acquainted with some of the guys last night and this morning meet everybody at breakfast,” he said. “Guys had reached out and texted in the last couple of days, so it was nice to put a face to the name. It was good and, like I said, everybody has been very welcoming and I’m looking forward to this opportunity.”

The opportunity to be part of a team trying to get to the post-season is attractive to DeMelo. He was paired with Nathan Beaulieu against the Senators, but the reality is it’s going to take a bit of time DeMelo to get used to his new surroundings.

“I’m just trying to absorb as much information as possible so I can play within the system of our team so we’re all on the same page,” DeMelo said. “I’m just trying to get acquainted with how things are done here.”

DeMelo noted he appreciated the chance he was given with the Senators.

“I enjoyed my time here a lot,” DeMelo said. “Trading for me from San Jose gave me a great opportunity and I’m always very thankful that. I think I made some lifelong friends here in Ottawa and I enjoyed my time here. It’s a shame we couldn’t work something out.

“There’s no hard feelings or anything like that. It was a top choice for me to stay here in Ottawa, we just weren’t able to work anything out.”

JETS LIKE WHAT DeMELO BRINGS

Paul Maurice appreciated getting the help for the club’s blueline.

The Winnipeg Jets’ coach knows there’s nothing flashy about former Senators defenceman Dylan DeMelo, but he might be just what the club needs in a battle for a playoff spot.

“I’m expecting him to play the exact same game that he’s played over the course of his career,” Maurice said before facing Ottawa. “He’s exceptionally consistent in the details game in the right spots. He competes in those right spots, sticks to his reads and he’s right.

“I wouldn’t say he plays a quiet game, but he’s exceptionally effective in what he does, and that’s game that we’re looking for.”

Maurice said the key Thursday night was simply to allow DeMelo to try to get comfortable.

bgarrioch@postmedia.com

Twitter: @sungarrioch

ALSO IN SPORTS

ET STAYS HOME: With baby due soon, Lattanzio happy to stick with Redblacks

FREEBIE: Ottawa 67’s offer free tickets for Feb. 25 School Day game

Atletico Ottawa’s CPL home opener will be May 16

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

Recent Stories