NEWS

Gelinas' development critical to Devils' success

Monday, 08.4.2014 / 12:25 PM ET / News
By Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com Staff Writer
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Gelinas\' development critical to Devils\' success
New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer believes Eric Gelinas has the potential to be something very special, but he also has work to do in order to become a well-rounded NHL defenseman.


Eric Gelinas will be looking to build on an impressive rookie season in 2014-15.

New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer believes defenseman Eric Gelinas has the potential to be something very special.

Gelinas gave Devils fans reason to get excited about the future after scoring seven goals and 29 points in 60 regular-season games as a rookie in 2013-14.

An injury to captain Bryce Salvador early in the season gave Gelinas a roster spot and an opportunity to showcase his cannon shot from the point on the power play. Gelinas turned out to be a catalyst for the Devils, ranking second on the team among defensemen in goals (five) and points (17) on the power play. The Devils finished ninth in the NHL with a 19.5 percent efficiency and the 23-year-old played a key role.

If Gelinas can prove his first year in the League was no fluke and improve in a few areas, the Devils will certainly be in a much better standing in the Eastern Conference in April.

"He has the potential to be really good," DeBoer said of the 22-year-old. "I recently watched the baseball draft and they talked about five-tool guys. Gelinas is a guy with all the tools. But he's stepping into a position that's arguably the hardest, maybe in professional sports, to step into and excel at an early age. Everybody has to have patience with the process so that he can reach what he's capable of reaching."

Gelinas did experience his share of downs last season, particularly when he was benched for extended periods after pinching at inopportune moments in a game. Then there were times when he should have been pinching and wasn't his usual aggressive self, perhaps a sign his confidence wasn't where it needed to be at this level.

It's for those reasons Gelinas was returned to the Devils' American Hockey League affiliate in Albany on four occasions during the season. DeBoer needs to see improvement and decisive decisions at crucial stages of the game. Only then will he be able to fully trust the 2009 second-round draft pick (No. 54).

"You can't just be a big shot [from the point]," DeBoer said. "I think he's capable of being much more than that. Also, if you're going to have a long career you have to be multidimensional, and I think the other dimensions of his game are the areas he needs to work at. It's not a secret, but it's tough to get 20 or 25 minutes of ice at this level for a young defenseman.

"We're looking at this guy long-term more than shorter-term."

Gelinas averaged 16:55 of ice time, which ranked eighth among Devils defensemen. Rookie Jon Merrill, who passed Gelinas on the depth chart late in the season, averaged 19:13.

"Many of our young defensemen who will be given the opportunity to play must seize the opportunity and become NHL regulars," DeBoer said. "Gelinas is in that group."

Gelinas scored an overtime goal in a 4-3 win against the New York Rangers last December off a shot from the point that prompted veteran right wing Jaromir Jagr to say, "He might be a superstar in this League if he keeps working."

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 70 16 25 -3 41
M. Cammalleri 63 27 13 3 40
P. Elias 64 11 21 -16 32
S. Gomez 53 7 24 -8 31
S. Bernier 62 13 14 3 27
T. Zajac 69 11 12 -4 23
A. Larsson 59 3 20 3 23
A. Greene 77 3 18 2 21
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
E. Gelinas 57 6 12 -3 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 28 9 .927 2.20
K. Kinkaid 5 5 3 .918 2.47