Dylan DeMelo was traded to the Winnipeg Jets by the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday for a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
The defenseman has 10 assists and is plus-3 in 49 games for the Senators (21-28-11), who are seventh in the Atlantic Division and next to last in the Eastern Conference following a 7-4 home win against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.
The Jets (31-25-5) are three points behind the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. Winnipeg defeated the Los Angeles Kings 6-3 on Tuesday; DeMelo did not play.
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DeMelo is in the final season of a two-year contract and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
"I'm very excited for the opportunity," DeMelo said. "It's definitely been on my mind, the state of the [Senators] and that everybody knew that they're going to rebuild. And being a UFA, we really didn't have much going with regard to contract talks. When you're getting close to a week out, the writing is on the wall in that regard.
"I'm kind of happy it's done now, before (the NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 24), just to be relieved to know where I stand."
DeMelo was a sixth-round pick (No. 179) by the San Jose Sharks in the 2011 NHL Draft and was sent to Ottawa as part of the trade for defenseman Erik Karlsson on Sept. 13, 2018. DeMelo has 64 points (seven goals, 57 assists) in 259 NHL games with the Sharks and Senators, and one assist in 10 playoff games with the Sharks in 2018.
"He's a player that was traded in a very high-profile deal and went to a team that you knew he was going to get an increased role," Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said. "You watched from a distance to see how he's going to handle that role. We really liked his progression over the course of time, into what he's become and his growth as a player and his development.
"We like the fact that Dylan is a right-shot, right defenseman. That's something we had some conversations internally about and that was very appealing. That did factor into our equation. It's about a fit and we felt this was the fit we wanted to jump on."
DeMelo said, "I think Winnipeg chose me for what I can bring to the table. I feel like I was wanted for sure. I think it's a great fit for myself and the team. I think I'll fit in seamlessly there. I hope I'll play well there and play hard for that team and organization, do my job and hopefully we can make the playoffs. I'm looking forward to playing in some big games down the stretch."
Cheveldayoff said the fact Winnipeg has room under the NHL salary cap could lead to more trade opportunities under the right circumstances.
"From the standpoint of bolstering, I think you've seen from the afternoon here that several guys have gone off the board," he said, referring to defenseman Brenden Dillon being traded to the Washington Capitals by the San Jose Sharks and defenseman Marco Scandella being traded to the St. Louis Blues by the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. "We're going to be open to different things. Maybe there's hockey deals out there that don't just involve rental players. We'll see how that all plays out. Hard to predict right now. And there's potential of maybe looking at a forward as well. We do have to be mindful of asset prices. There's an opportunity cost, picks or prospects, that you do trade away.
"It's always tough when you're trading picks because you know when you're sitting there at the draft in that round, you don't want to be twiddling your thumbs. Who knows what presents itself between now and then. We wanted to focus on the immediate opportunities in front of us given how hard these guys have fought. I'm proud of this group and hopefully this will continue to help push them and keep them in the fight."
DeMelo will remain in Ottawa and meet the Jets to debut for Winnipeg against his former team Thursday.
"Definitely weird," he said. "I don't know if they're just going to bring my gear over for me or if I need to go grab it out of the room. I guess it's kind of lucky that I don't have leave and rush out of here and I can take my time. It may be good to get that first one out of the way right away."
NHL.com staff writer Tim Campbell contributed to this report