Jets’ Dillon Brings Much Needed Energy to the Lineup

In July, Brenden Dillon was acquired by the Winnipeg Jets in a trade that sent a second-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, and a second-round pick in 2023 to the Washington Capitals, in exchange for the 30-year-old defenceman. He plays a rough and high-tempo game, and can provide that much-needed energy to not only his line, but the whole bench. He throws big hits, gets his name on the scoresheet, and most importantly, meshes well in the locker room. 

Brenden Dillon Washington Capitals
Brenden Dillon, former Washington Capitals defenceman (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Dillon is a Surrey, British Columbia, product who spent four years with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League (WHL), where he made a name for himself as a bone-crushing defenceman. He went undrafted twice, and eventually battled his way onto the Dallas Stars roster for the 2012-13 season. After a few seasons in Dallas, he landed in San Jose, where he was able to find his footing and make a name for himself among the Sharks defence crop. He spent five-and-a-half seasons with the Sharks before being traded in 2019-20 to the Capitals. After a short-but-sweet stint with the Capitals, he was dealt to the Jets.

Last season, Dillon recorded 19 points (two goals, 17 assists) in 56 games with the Capitals. From the blue line, he has always been able to get around 20-plus points a season. He plays the body hard, and is not afraid to finish his checks, and thrives off the crowd reaction. He recorded 143 hits with the Capitals last season, which was second only to Garnet Hathaway. His love for physical play is well known. As soon as Dillon arrived at training camp in Winnipeg, he quickly made his new teammates aware of his willingness to be physical. While training camp was a war, he made a good impression on the Jets’ coaching staff and teammates.

“(Dillon and Nate Schmidt) kind of just fit right in,” said Jets forward Adam Lowry. “Different players and different styles, but both pieces that, in years past, we’ve been missing. (Dillon) is huge. He’s going to be great on the back end. I think he compliments some of our smaller d-men really well. You’ve seen what he’s done in his career. He’s a great defender. He moves the puck well, he’s big and he’s hard to play against. He makes going to the net really miserable.”

Bolstering the Jets’ Defence

Dillon should provide the Jets with that extra step they desperately need, and his ability to rally the team will be an asset. When you have that type of “spark plug” on your team that can change the whole tempo of a game with a single event, it provides much needed motivation to the rest of the players. “Spark plugs” have always been a big component to building a championship team, players like Brad Marchand, Travis Moen, and Shawn Thornton all fit that bill. Even though he’s not afraid to fight, he’s not just about dropping the gloves; he can change the pace of a game and create plays by blocking shots and throwing big hits. He makes his defensive partners’ life easier while on the ice too, because Dillon is not afraid to be the first one down to battle along the boards while willingly sacrificing his body. He is the type of player that all coaches love, and players hate to play against. He is an upgrade over former Jets defenceman Derek Forbort, who has a comparable style.

This summer, Forbort was not offered a contract extension, and instead signed a deal with the Boston Bruins. After he left, the Jets needed to replace him, and so general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff made the trade to acquire Dillon. However, that wasn’t the only deal he made to improve their defence; they acquired Nate Schmidt from the Vancouver Canucks. Schmidt has also settled well into the lineup.

Related: 3 Jets’ Keys to Finding First Win of 2021-22

Although it is far too early to determine if this acquisition will pay off, it is safe to say that Dillon has already adapted to life in Winnipeg. He also has experience in the playoffs, which includes a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 with the San Jose Sharks, where he picked up two assists. The Jets are hoping to make a deep run this year, so having an experienced spark plug on the blue line like Dillon should help them get there.

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