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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


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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AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
L. Stempniak 55 15 25 6 40
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
A. Henrique 53 18 18 14 36
K. Palmieri 55 20 15 3 35
T. Zajac 47 8 18 7 26
D. Schlemko 47 6 9 -8 15
A. Larsson 55 2 11 12 13
D. Severson 51 1 12 -1 13
A. Greene 55 4 6 2 10
J. Josefson 44 3 7 -14 10
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 24 16 6 .930 2.01
K. Kinkaid 3 5 1 .909 2.52
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