Former Pens’ GM Ray Shero made it clear that Dea’s skillset was useful on a team struggling to find decent guys to work down the middle.
The 24-year-old center actually carved out a offensively-charged role in the bottom-six early, starting out his campaign in Newark pretty well. Dea netted three goals in his first four tilts with the Devils, took advantage of turnovers and had a knack for creating them, and often finished in high-percentage scoring chances. It seemed he was going to bloom right away.
That ended sort of suddenly afterwards, as Dea failed to do much in the following 20 games for the club, tallying just two assists (both ironically coming against the Penguins on November 5). Dea had no points since that game.
Dea will ultimately be sent back down to the AHL to re-join the Baby Pens in a top-six role, potentially even sliding in as the team’s No. 1 center as soon as he arrives. It’ll be interesting to see if Dea’s homecoming will trouble the waters in the forward balance that’s finally found some solidarity after dealing with all the recent call-ups.
Dea’s return is expected to add a significant spark to a WBS team that needs a boost to get back into playoff position. It will also be a huge boost to the overall morale of the WBS fanbase, who were saddened to see him originally claimed by New Jersey.
That said, don’t be surprised if Dea replaces Derek Grant or Garrett Wilson in a fourth line spot up in Pittsburgh after the waiver claim paperwork is officially pushed through. He’s arguably more skilled in that role than both of those two.