No cards have been printed and laminated but Dylan DeMelo and Logan Stanley are members in good standing of the mutual admiration society.
The veteran blue-liner and the skyscraper on skates played a lot of hockey together for the Winnipeg Jets during the abbreviated 2021 NHL campaign and stand to spend more time together when the upcoming regular season unfolds.
A plan of that nature sits well with each.
"(Stanley's) making good plays with the puck on breakouts, popping it to the middle. He’s such a physical force out there. He dumped (Jansen) Harkins pretty good (Saturday) on the first shift — a guy that big that can punish guys but can also move and make plays," DeMelo said. "It’s valuable. He’s still growing. His game is still growing. He’s just scratching the surface on the type of player we think he can be
"He’s eager to learn and I’m happy to be paired with him and hopefully can help guide him on his journey."
Josh Morrissey has been partnered with Nate Schmidt through three days of camp, while Neal Pionk and Brenden Dillon have been worked together. There's no shortage of talent and veteran savvy in those two pairings, and a comfort level should materialize with few hiccups.
DeMelo and Stanley already have the benefit of familiarity.
The 23-year-old from Waterloo, Ont., said he's soaking up every morsel of information DeMelo offers up.
"Well, he’s just an easy guy to get along with. We live very close in the summer. We’ve got along since Day 1 and he’s such a smart player on the ice, he makes it easy to play with him, he’s always talking," said Stanley. "Whenever he gives me a piece of advice, I listen and try to put it into my game."
The 6-7, 230-pound blue-liner stepped to the fore last season, playing 37 regular-season games and eight in the playoffs. He scored twice in the Jets final game against Montreal, an eventual 5-4 series-clinching win by the Canadiens.
While he made some defensive miscues, he showed plenty of poise in his own end and provided a toughness the club had lacked. Most importantly, the mesh of he and DeMelo gained the trust of Winnipeg's player personnel department.
"There's a comfort, right? You watch the way they move off of each other. Dylan's very consistent in the way he plays the game. Logan's still going to battle for that job. He had it, in my mind, at the end of the year. I like what he brings. He scored two goals in the final game and he's got that physical presence. I think there's a lot there. I think there's offence there, too. But he has to bring the basics — the basic part of playing defence in the NHL," said head coach Paul Maurice.
Stanley signed a two-year, US$1.8 million deal during the off-season and was included on the squad's protected list prior to the expansion draft.
"I was thrilled. I didn’t want to leave Winnipeg. I wanted to be here, the team that drafted me and gave me my first opportunity," said Stanley, selected in the first round (18th overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft. "There was no question, I wanted to stay and I was very relieved. I was actually with my family when my agent called me and let me know I was protected, so I was happy and got to share the moment with them.
"I went back to work for the rest of the summer knowing the team invested in me. I’m excited to get going."
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).