'1st choice was Winnipeg': Dylan DeMelo thrilled to re-sign with Jets to 4-year, $12M deal

Defenceman Dylan DeMelo is staying a Winnipeg Jet.

27-year-old joined the Jets in mid-February in trade with Ottawa

Dylan DeMelo battles against the Vancouver Canucks' Elias Pettersson during an exhibition game in July. (Codie McLachlan/The Canadian Press)

Defenceman Dylan DeMelo is staying a Winnipeg Jet.

With a contract secured, the 27-year-old blue-liner is now setting his sights on two things: planting roots to raise his family and dealing with "unfinished business" by pushing the team to the Stanley Cup.

"My first choice was Winnipeg. I'm glad we were able to work something out," he said on a conference call Wednesday morning, after the Jets announced they had re-signed him to a four-year contract worth $12 million.

DeMelo joined the Jets in mid-February after the team acquired him from the Ottawa Senators in a trade for a third-round draft pick this year. Less than a month later, the NHL suspended the season due to COVID-19.

As a result, the right-shooting defenceman didn't spend a lot of time in Winnipeg. He is looking forward to changing that, though.

He and his wife are expecting their first child in January and they're excited to settle into the city.

"[We] heard Winnipeg is an amazing place to raise a family. We're really looking forward to that," he said. "I couldn't be happier to be a Winnipeg Jet."

Winnipeg Jets defenceman Dylan DeMelo, right, celebrates with teammates after defeating his former team, the Ottawa Senators, in February. It was his first game with the Jets after being traded for a third-round pick. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

When the native of London, Ont., was told about his trade to Winnipeg, teammate and former Jet Ron Hainsey spoke very highly of the city, he said. Hainsey warned him it can be really cold, but DeMelo said he's from Canada and well-versed in winter.

"I heard the summers and the fall and springtime are beautiful there. And, you know, I'm a very low-key guy. I don't need much to be happy. I think every day in the NHL is a blessing."

He acknowledged he's fortunate to sign a contract during some rough times in a world where many people are struggling to find work.

DeMelo posted 10 assists and 37 penalty minutes in 59 games between Ottawa and Winnipeg last season. When he came to the Jets, he was given key roles, playing in the top four and on the penalty kill, and felt he fit in well.

He ended up leading the Jets in shorthanded ice time during all four post-season games before the team was eliminated.

Not making it past the first round of the playoffs has left DeMelo eager to get back on the ice and take care of what he calls unfinished business.

He's a strong believer the Jets have what it takes to go as deep as possible in the post-season.

"I love the make up of the team, not just only on the back end, but in the net, obviously with the best goal in the league," he said. The group of forwards we have, I think it's a very explosive group of forwards. I've played with some great group of forwards, but I think this might be the best." 

Originally drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the sixth round (179th overall) in the 2011 NHL draft, DeMelo has played 269 games in the NHL and has 64 points (seven goals, 57 assists) and 131 penalty minutes.

"Everyone loves the guys who put up all the points. However, not every player can do that," he said, calling himself the type of player who "does all of the small things right" to help the team win the game.

"Sometimes that translates into points, sometimes not. I'd love to put up points, too, but at the end of the day, I want to win."


Darren Bernhardt spent the first dozen years of his journalism career in newspapers, at the Regina Leader-Post then the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. He has been with CBC Manitoba since 2009 and specializes in offbeat and local history stories. He is the author of award-nominated and bestselling The Lesser Known: A History of Oddities from the Heart of the Continent.