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Scott Billeck Report | Likelihood of Brenden Dillon returning to Winnipeg Jets is “slim at best” but some hope still exists

Latest on the big 2nd pair Dman for Winnipeg.

Given the uncertainty which was clear at the end of season media availability with Jets defenceman Brenden Dillon this news doesn’t come as a big surprise but this morning Scott Billeck of the Winnipeg Sun tweeted out the following:

“I’m told the likelihood of Brenden Dillon returning to #NHLJets next year is slim at best, and he will become a UFA.

Sources say Dillon’s camp didn’t receive an offer & held no conversations regarding an extension during the season. He hasn’t heard from the team since it ended.

To add to this, there’s still hope from Dillon’s side that it could work out before July 1. He said that during his exit interview, and that remains true, I’m told.”

Dillon is 33 years old and had a cap hit of 3.9 million last season. The BC product had signed a four-year deal with the Capitals in 2020-21 but Washington and Winnipeg worked out a trade a year into the contract which saw him play the final three seasons in Manitoba. He’s played just under 900 regular season games between Dallas, San Jose, Washington as well as Winnipeg and he was definitely durable during his time with the Jets playing in 238 of 246 regular season games.

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Photo Credit: Colby Spence (Illegal Curve)

He hit a career high for goals this past season scoring eight times.

As indicated above some of the comments from the media availability with Dillon make today’s news rather unsurprising. On his UFA status this is what he said regarding if the Jets came to him with an offer vs his opportunity to test free agency and if he had to balance that with the fit here in Winnipeg:

“For sure. Am I frustrated that I’m not signed and sitting here and ready for next year? Absolutely. I think for this team I feel like I’m a big part of it, I feel like coming in, I’ve said it numerous times I love the group of guys we have, I love the D group we have. We have a lot of fun together. We want to get better together”

He said he hadn’t spoken to Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff at that point but he did “it’s not always about going for the big money” saying his focus is finding a fit where he can win a Stanley Cup adding:

“I want to win. I want to be a big part of a team, and you obviously want to feel wanted and feel like you’re a big part of that. Those are kinda the things that I’m weighing. Basically, until July 1st, I’m a Winnipeg Jet and hopefully we can make it work.”

Dillon was asked if it was an insult that he hadn’t yet received a new offer to which he responded that he understands the business side of things and he didn’t allow it to impact him during the season. The next question was “so you’re not out the door” to which he replied:

“No I’m not out the door. I’m a proud Winnipeg Jet and proud of how the season went for me and the team. Just unfortunate ending.”

The undrafted defenceman was a big piece of this team’s identity.

For what it’s worth Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in his end of season media availability when asked about Dillon’s comments said this about the BC product although his answer also covered defenceman Dylan DeMelo who is also a UFA:

“…we have two guys that are very, very important to this organization in Brenden Dillon/Dylan DeMelo. Both guys that we would like to have back. Both guys who are a big parts of this team…..”.

And in his answer he essentially said they didn’t want to mess with the “team atmosphere” saying they had something good going on with the group and didn’t want to create an issue if they were able to get one guy signed and not the other but he did add:

“….we communicated with their agents in both of those situations that it wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when. And the when just wasn’t at that point in time…”

If the two sides cannot get a new contract signed, it likely means a big opportunity for 6’4 Minnesotan Dylan Samberg who spent a lot of this season on the third pairing but the 25-year old is seen as a player who is ready to take next step.

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