SAN JOSE – After the Pittsburgh Penguins skated circles around the Sharks in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, it was evident that San Jose might have to add a bit more speed to its game for the next season.
Defenseman Brenden Dillon thought so. He made it a priority in the short offseason to become a quicker, more mobile defenseman.
“Everybody saw just how much mobility and how much skating in this day and age is such a key part of the game whether you’re an offensive player of a defensive player,” Dillon said on the latest Sharks Insider Podcast.
So far, the 26-year-old’s hard work has paid off. Dillon has been outstanding through the first two-and-a-half months of the season, and is a vital part of what may be the NHL’s best blue line from top to bottom.
“A big thing for me was I just wanted to increase my mobility of getting up the ice and being part of the offense. I think that’s something that [Pete DeBoer] and [Bob Boughner] here with our systems really encourages – defensemen joining the play, breaking the puck out. I think that’s worked into being one of my strengths this year is being able to get the puck out of trouble, whether it’s skating out of the zone, breaking it out, helping join the play.”
When the Sharks acquired Dillon in a trade with the Dallas Stars on Nov. 21, 2014, jettisoning popular defenseman Jason Demers to acquire Dillon’s services, general manager Doug Wilson described his new acquisition as a “sponge,” in that he wanted to learn as much as possible about how to become a better player.
That proved to be the case the first time Dillon stepped on the ice with then-Sharks assistant coach and NHL legend Larry Robinson. Dillon said: “I almost felt bad like I was going to talk his ear off the first time we were on the ice. I remember being out there for like 40 minutes after practice.”
Dillon touches on a number of subjects on the podcast ranging from his time in Seattle in the WHL, establishing himself as an NHL player in Dallas, and then coming to the Sharks, where it was a thrill to have Patrick Marleau pick him up at the airport.