Dylan DeMelo Off To A Great Start With The Ottawa Senators

Everyone knows what the San Jose Sharks got in the big trade this summer. That would be Erik Karlsson. However, coming back to the Ottawa Senators there wasn’t one “true” piece. The Sens got a mix of prospects, roster players and picks. It has been a short amount of time, but Dylan DeMelo has been off to a good start with the Senators.

Dylan DeMelo Has Been The Most Impressive Return Thus Far

Season Start

It has only been 5 games. So there can not be enough emphasis on not over analyzing the season. However, what can be said is certain players have looked impressive to start the season. Dylan DeMelo is one of those players. The Senators as a whole have surprised some people. They have started their season 2-2-1, knocking off the Toronto Maple Leafs as one of those teams. Their young roster has allowed them to switch from more “boring” trap hockey to higher paced games.

The Sens D-core¬†looks very different without Karlsson on it logging 20+ minutes a night. The Sens have switched to a “Minutes by committee” type rotation. Defensemen are playing between 15-20 minutes a night and the ice time is very even. Guys like Maxime Lajoie and Thomas Chabot have impressed on the Sens blueline. However, someone who has quietly been one of Ottawa’s best D has been Dylan DeMelo.

DeMelo has one goal and three assists in five games this season. That 66 point pace is very unlikely to continue, however, it is more promising than the 20 points (0G, 20A) he had last season. Just his point impact is enough to show he’s made a difference, but let’s look at some underlying numbers.

Shot Shares

One of the first things to look for when looking at underlying numbers is looking at a players possession numbers. These can also be referred to as shot attempts, or “Corsi”. The Sens overall have not had great underlying numbers this season. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise to most as they do have a younger and overall not as strong roster as some teams. They rely on winning games by solid goal-tending and some quick offensive attacks.

This is why DeMelo’s Corsi of 47.37% may not seem so impressive. However, when you compare that to other Sens D using Relative (RelCF%) he has a 7.92 RelCF%. This ranks second among all Sens D, behind only Thomas Chabot. This means that DeMelo and his partner Chabot are controlling play much better than the rest of the Sens D-core. The better you control shot attempts, the better future outcomes will likely be.

Expected Goals

When we look at Expected Goals for (or xGF%), DeMelo shines once again. xGF% is a stat that uses shot location and difficulty to measure the expected goals for and against while a player is on the ice. For DeMelo, he ranks 1st among Sens D with a 55.71xGF%. There will likely be some regression to this as the season wears on because 55% is elite in the NHL, however, DeMelo at 5v5 has really helped control scoring chances.

His RelxGF% is a staggering 8.01. This means he is really taking this D-core by storm and leading the way. While he is on the ice, the Senators are controlling most of the quality chances and it is showing by his point totals.

Dylan DeMelo does have the luxury of starting in the Offensive Zone more often than any other Sens D. However, at 51% of the time this number is nowhere near as high as other sheltered players on other teams. He also makes a strong case that he should be used as the defensive pairing.

Shot Location

If we need more proof of DeMelo’s strong play other than just numbers, take a look at the graphic. HockeyViz.com shows the shot locations for and against for any team or player. Underneath are two pictures. The first is the Sens shots against with DeMelo on the ice. The second is with him off of it.

That sea of blue in front of the net is a great thing. It means while DeMelo is on, he and partner Chabot are barely letting anything up from the slot or net. These are the highest danger areas and it’s important to keep them clean.

It is even more impressive comparing it to the Sens without DeMelo on the ice. There is tons of red there which is a huge problem. The “shutdown” pair of Cody Ceci and Mark Borowiecki (or Ben Harpur) just hasn’t worked. The Sens should really consider giving DeMelo some more defensive zone time because he has excelled in his own end thus far.

DeMelo A Solid Addition For Senators

Overall, it’s important not to over analyze everything that happens in a five game sample size. It is highly unlikely DeMelo will keep up the crazy high output or xGF%’s that he has. However, all of these numbers are very promising going forward. DeMelo has been on top of the Sens D-core in most stats and he could develop into someone who takes some more minutes for this team going forward.

At 900k AAV for this season and next, DeMelo is really providing great value for the money he is being paid. While the Sens likely will not be close to the cap anytime soon, it should be encouraging to Sens fans that the team can find some value in guys like this.

Dylan DeMelo and the Ottawa Senators should be very happy with how he has started the season. For what is still a more underwhelming overall return for Karlsson, DeMelo has played above expectations and that’s all the Sens can ask for.