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Zidlicky to add offense to blue line

Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 11:40 AM ET / News
By Mike G. Morreale  - Staff Writer
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Zidlicky to add offense to blue line

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello believes he has found a defenseman who can help his power play and provide some veteran leadership down the stretch -- and perhaps beyond if his club qualifies for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

That blueliner is 35-year-old Marek Zidlicky, who on Friday was acquired from the Minnesota Wild for three players and draft picks after Zidlicky waived his no-trade clause. The deal was announced by Lamoriello during the second intermission of Friday's 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks at Prudential Center.

"We had an opportunity to get an experienced right-shot, puck-moving, defenseman who can also quarterback the power-play and has a lot of experience," Lamoriello said. "In my opinion, we had a chance to get someone who was better-suited to playing 5-on-5, move the puck out of the zone and jump in on offense with the type of forwards we have."

Devils forward Patrik Elias, a fellow Czech, is close friends with Zidlicky and was very happy when he received word that his teenage buddy would be joining the team. Coach Peter DeBoer anticipates that Zidlicky will be in the lineup on Sunday  when the  Devils play host to the Tampa Bay Lightning at Prudential Center.

"He's going to be a help," Elias said. "Offensively, he's very good and has a mean streak to him. I've known him since I was 14, and he's a great friend to me. I'm glad I'll be able to see him in the [Devils] uniform. "I'll probably pick him up at the airport [Saturday] since he's going to need a ride and a place to stay."

Elias and Zidlicky played against each other on opposing junior teams in Kladno in the Czech Republic at teenagers; they have played together on several national teams.

"He's experienced and can move the puck," DeBoer said. "Don't forget, we have a good handle on this guy as a player. Patrik Elias knows him, [Assistant coach] Dave Barr worked with him in Minnesota and [former coach] Jacques Lemaire coached him in Minnesota. A lot of people know him as player and person, and the reports are positive."

The deal came at a price, however, as Lamoriello was forced to part with defenseman Kurtis Foster, forwards Nick Palmieri and Stephane Veilleux, a second-round pick in 2012 that the Devils previously acquired from Washington and a conditional third-round pick in the 2013 Draft.

Minnesota will receive that pick if the Devils make the Eastern Conference Finals this spring and Zidlicky plays in 75 percent of New Jersey's games in the first two rounds. Foster and Zidlicky were scratched from their teams' games on Friday night.

Lamoriello was asked if the injuries to defensemen Adam Larsson (back) and Henrik Tallinder (blood clot) forced his hand into making the deal for Zidlicky.

"I don't think that came into play because we know that Adam [Larsson] would be back soon, but the thought process of having so many young players without big-game experience did come into play and we had an opportunity to get one," Lamoriello said.

Zidlicky had said he'd be willing to waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a move after he and coach Mike Yeo expressed dissatisfaction with each other. He has no goals and 14 assists in 41 games this season and is fourth all-time in scoring among Wild defensemen with 25 goals and 97 assists for 122 points in 241 games.

In his career, Zidlicky has 60 goals and 238 assists, along with 496 penalty minutes, in 548 games. He has one more season remaining on his contract.

Despite losing 2-1 to Vancouver on Friday night, the Devils are second in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. The deal indicates they think they can make some noise in the postseason.

"The trade shows Lou's belief in the group and what we have going here," DeBoer said. "It was a high price to pay and we appreciate the efforts that Foster, Palmieri and Veilleux gave to the organization. This makes us better and, even more important, is the message to guys in the room that there is a strong belief in what we're doing and what we're capable of doing."

"I don't know much about him, but they gave up a lot so hopefully he's going to be a good player," goalie Martin Brodeur said. "It's definitely exciting to get a top defenseman on our team."

Lamoriello feels Zidlicky is a bona fide top-two defenseman who will log plenty of quality minutes.

"From what I've been told, he's an offensive defenseman with a great shot from the point, and he'll help our power-play," captain Zach Parise said. "When Foss (Kurtis Foster) came in, he really did a nice job helping our power-play get better; Zidlicky will do the same thing."




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


K. Palmieri 82 30 27 3 57
A. Henrique 80 30 20 10 50
T. Zajac 74 14 28 3 42
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
D. Severson 72 1 20 -8 21
R. Boucher 39 8 11 -13 19
D. Schlemko 67 6 13 -22 19
J. Moore 73 4 15 -12 19
A. Larsson 82 3 15 15 18
J. Blandisi 41 5 12 -14 17
C. Schneider 27 25 6 .924 2.15
K. Kinkaid 9 9 1 .904 2.81