Dallas Stars Season Grades: Jason Demers
The Stars finally swung a trade for defensive help. It just maybe wasn't the trade fans wanted. Still, we got Jason Demers, and the more I looked, the better it seemed. Take a look and tell us your own thoughts on how his season stacked up.
Jason Demers joined the Dallas Stars via trade on November 21st, 2014. In exchange, the Stars sent one-time defensive answer Brenden Dillon to the Bay Area. Two camps quickly emerged. One viewed Dillon as a peaked asset, and ill-suited to the Stars' possession/attack style. The other saw Dillon as a late-round gem still growing into his powers. Both groups were united, however, in the fact that Demers himself was something of an afterthought. The deal was less about what Jason brought, and more about what was leaving with Dillon. Two-thirds of a season later, we've got a bit more perspective to work with.
Jason Demers' core numbers were respectable. He registered 5 goals and 17 assists in his 61 games as a Dallas Star, which was good for fourth on the blueline. In almost 20 minutes a night (19:19) Demers was third in hits (88), fourth in takeaways (28), and actually led the defense in total penalty minutes (63). While it's certainly true you never want to lead a team in PIMs, his total wasn't exactly egregious. If you're into complete and utter nonsense, Demers was also a +3.
If we throw out +/- and instead focus on useful statistics, we see that Demers was counted on in a mostly defensive role (47.04 OZS% - third among regular Stars defenders). Despite that workload, only John Klingberg could better Demers' 54.44 CF% or +114 scoring chance differential. The second number, in particular, drew my attention. Even if we expand the pool to include all Stars players, Demers only drops to seventh. On the second best offensive / fourth worst defensive team in the league, Demers was a top ten player.
Demers is an interesting guy. Listed at 6"1", 195 lbs, he doesn't fit the mold of a bruising defensive presence. Nor does a career high of 34 points indicate a puck-moving offensive wizard. Instead, he delivered the sort of no-frills, mind-your-business game that stood out among his, shall we say, more volatile colleagues. Jordie Benn, for instance, seemed to settle in and enjoy some of his best play as a Star alongside Demers.
That same steadiness, in many ways, is the problem. Jason Demers is 26 years old and has played in 361 NHL games. It's probably fair to say there's no next-level there. He isn't going to arrive in camp suddenly transformed into Brian Rafalski 2.0. On a better team, that would make him an invaluable second-pairing / third-pairing-plus-penalty-kill resource. On the Stars, it just makes him one of what feels like 15 guys vying for time beneath the hypothetical #1 defenseman Dallas needs to draft/trade for/kidnap.
Jason Demers is a versatile, useful player. He's also very much not the guy that's going to nudge the Stars into contender status. I have the same trouble judging his season as I've had with other members of the Stars defensive group. Was Demers one of the better pieces on an improving unit, or did his low-ceiling/high-floor exemplify the overall problem on Dallas' back-end?
How would you grade Jason Demers' 2014-2015 season as a Dallas Star?