A late-round pick from the 2008 Entry Draft, Jason Demers has had an up-and-down career in the NHL thus far. He joined the San Jose Sharks full-time in 2009 and registered 21 points in 51 games as a rookie. Demers showed a lot of untapped potential that year, but failed to improve his game the following season, managing just 24 points in 75 games.
Since then, the 25-year-old defenseman has been in and out of the Sharks’ lineup without a true role on the team. However, that seems to have changed this season. Demers is currently the highest-scoring rearguard on the squad with a career-high 25 points, leading veteran star Dan Boyle by three points. He has suited up for 53 of San Jose’s 59 games so far and his confidence, particularly in the offensive zone, seems to be restored.
Demers has logged heavy minutes on the power play and at even strength, he has used his speed and puck skills to generate offense from the back end. He ranks fourth on the team in assists with 22, trailing only star forwards Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski. Demers’ passing abilities and overall awareness in the offensive zone have been game-changing at times this season.
While 25 points isn’t exactly an eye-popping total, the fact of the matter is that the Sharks don’t tend to generate much offense from the blue line. Even Boyle, who has seven 40-point campaigns on his track record, is struggling to produce this season. Demers plays in a conservative system that puts the onus on the forwards to control the puck and cycle down low, so having 25 tallies with 22 games still to play is an accomplishment worth recognizing.
On the other end of the ice, Demers’ defensive play has been good, albeit unspectacular. He boasts a positive plus/minus rating for the first time in three years and hasn’t been caught out of position as often as he used to. His positioning has improved leaps and bounds, and the coaching staff trusts him enough to match him up against quality opponents. Still, Demers will likely always be seen as an offensive defenseman and will never be a player capable of shutting down the league’s top scorers.
Teams need offensive support from the back end in order to succeed in today’s NHL, and Demers has provided that for the Sharks. He’s not a core player and his future with the team beyond this year is uncertain, but he has been a key piece on the blue line this season. Demers gets a “B” on his report card.