Luckily for the Toronto Maple Leafs, DeMelo isn’t the “sexiest name” out there, which should keep the cost low but that’s not a slight on his ability.
In Winnipeg, he played large portions of the season next to Josh Morrissey on the top pair with amazing results. This is exactly why he’d be a great fit with Rielly, he’s a defensive-minded defenseman with a history of playing top pair minutes and well, next to a puck-moving partner.
As shown by the chart below, although he doesn’t typically play top pair minutes on his own, his partner usually does. More often than not, he also finds himself matched up against the oppositions top players.
The Morrissey-DeMelo pairing were the Jets most effective that played more than 100 minutes together, in terms of xGF%. They also ranked second in both xGA/60 and xGF/60.
The pairing that lead in xGA/60 also featured DeMelo with his other primary partner, Logan Stanley. Individually, he ranks first among Jets defensemen in xGA/60 and GA/60. He also ranks second by CA/60 and first in FA/60. His defensive abilities can’t be understated, he’s the best on the Jets roster.
Evidenced as well by his shot location heat map below. He’s great at keeping shots mainly to the outside while he’s on the ice and clearing out the slot.
The last and final point in favour of DeMelo, is his effect on teammates.
Almost every player that plays with him drastically improve in both xGF/60 and xGA/60, mainly the latter. His great defensive abilities elevate not only the team but almost everyone who shares the ice with him.