Brenden Dillon, Winnipeg Jets

Jets 2022-23 Player Report Cards: Brenden Dillon

The Winnipeg Jets had an exceedingly up-and-down 2022-23 season. They had a strong first half, suffered a prolonged slide in the second half, recovered from it just in time to squeak into the playoffs, then were quickly dispatched in the first round by the Vegas Golden Knights.

In this series, we’ll take a look back on the season, player by player, and grade their individual performances with an eye toward their future with the team.

In this edition, we are going to discuss Jets defenceman Brenden Dillon. When we dive into the numbers, we can see that the Jets defender had a bounce-back season of sorts.

Dillon Enjoyed a Bounce-Back Season in 2022-23

The Jets traded for Dillon in the 2021 off-season when they reshaped their defence core and brought him in alongside Nate Schmidt. For the first season, he struggled to produce at his usual level with the changing of multiple coaching staffs. With Rick Bowness providing a stable system this year, he was able to get back to playing an effective style, and the numbers reflected that.

Brenden Dillon Winnipeg Jets
Brenden Dillon, Winnipeg Jets (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The partners he spent the most time with were Neal Pionk, Schmidt, and Dylan DeMelo. His stable defensive play provided the coaching staff with the flexibility to put him up and down the lineup when the defence core needed a change.

Here are the aforementioned numbers, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick. Dillon had a very solid season and was arguably the best defensive defenceman on the Jets. His physical style of play resulted in lower-quality shots for his opponents, which made life easier on Vezina Trophy finalist Connor Hellebuyck.

Related: Jets 2022-23 Player Report Cards: Connor Hellebuyck

Brenden Dillon – Even Strength 2021-22 2022-23

Expected Goals % 51.17 54.99

Corsi % 47.95 52.97

Fenwick % 48.32 52.88
Data via Natural Stat Trick

These numbers are more in line with Dillon’s career stats, and for two second-round picks back in the 2021 offseason, this is what the Jets organization was expecting from him. At 32 years old, he is currently the oldest player on the Jets’ defence core, but that did not hold him back from having a solid season.

Dillon a Part of Jets’ 2023-24 UFA Group

Dillon is just one of the many players that are set to become unrestricted free agents (UFA) in the 2024-25 offseason. That list includes players Mark Scheifele, Hellebuyck, Blake Wheeler, Schmidt, DeMelo, and Nino Niederreiter.

There are question marks surrounding the entirety of this core. Could Dillon be a part of the group that gets moved? Dillon’s physical style and veteran presence is the exact style of play that a Stanley Cup contender would be looking for at the trade deadline if the Jets themselves are not in a playoff position.

Rick Bowness Winnipeg Jets
Rick Bowness, Head Coach of the Winnipeg Jets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Although, according to Elliotte Friedman, the Jets have made it clear that they are not in the mood to rebuild. He stated that “What I think the Jets have made very clear is this is not going to be a rebuild. They are not tearing it down, and they are not starting over again.” It will be an interesting summer in Winnipeg, to say the least, and Dillon could be one of the players involved.

The Jets do have a logjam of defence prospects waiting in the wings, and given Dylan Samberg’s breakout rookie season, something’s got to give within the organization. Ville Heinola and Declan Chisholm are two left-handed defencemen looking to make the jump to the NHL next season, and with how crowded the blue line currently is, either they will have to win a spot or room will have to be made via trade.

2023 NHL Entry Draft Guide Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli Banner

Given Dillon’s bounce-back season, his flexibility within the lineup and the numbers he posted, he is deserving of a high mark this season. He was relied on heavily by the coaching staff to be a shutdown defenceman, and he did just that. A B+ is the final grade for the 32-year-old, who will look to follow up his solid season with the Jets or another team that potentially looks to acquire him.

Final Grade: B+

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