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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 49 36 9 4 161 110 76
2 FLA 51 31 15 5 141 112 67
3 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
4 NYR 51 28 18 5 146 132 61
5 BOS 51 27 18 6 149 136 60
6 NYI 49 26 17 6 134 121 58
7 DET 51 25 18 8 125 130 58
8 NJD 52 26 20 6 117 118 58
9 PIT 50 25 18 7 129 128 57
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 49 23 18 8 117 128 54
12 MTL 52 24 24 4 137 141 52
13 OTT 52 23 23 6 142 164 52
14 TOR 50 19 22 9 116 134 47
15 BUF 52 21 26 5 119 137 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
L. Stempniak 52 15 23 7 38
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
K. Palmieri 52 20 15 3 35
A. Henrique 50 16 16 14 32
T. Zajac 44 7 17 6 24
D. Schlemko 44 6 9 -8 15
A. Larsson 52 2 11 12 13
D. Severson 50 1 12 0 13
A. Greene 52 4 6 2 10
J. Moore 44 3 7 -1 10
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 23 15 5 .929 2.03
K. Kinkaid 3 5 1 .909 2.52
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