Lou Lamoriello may be trying to use Marek Zidlicky as leverage in the upcoming Patrik Elias negotiations, but his assertion this week that the New Jersey Devils could use Zidlicky next season is entirely misguided.
Though Zidlicky did make the occasional offensive contribution for a team desperately lacking production, his defensive lapses were far more detrimental than any of his scoring efforts. From untimely pinches to getting caught behind the play, Zidlicky was responsible for an unacceptable number scoring chances for opponents. He was frequently out of position, and of the eight men that New Jersey utilized on the blue line, Zidlicky was the greatest defensive liability.
The Devils found themselves with too many mediocre defensemen last season, and attempting to re-sign one of their least versatile players would be a tremendous error. Not only do the Devils already have enough defensive depth on the current roster, but they have prospects ready for a legitimate look.
Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill are capable of contributing offensively if given the chance next season. Both seem ready for minutes, and both look like they could represent a big part of the future of the Devils’ defensive rotation. Adam Larsson deserves more top-pairing minutes and time on the power play, which would effectively replace every middling contribution that Zidlicky makes. Even Alexander Urbom deserves ice time over the error-prone Zidlicky.
Zidlicky is a good friend of UFA Patrik Elias, but that shouldn’t be enough to earn a spot on this roster. Signing him before negotiating with Elias would be a mistake. After all, we saw what signing Zach Parise‘s “friends” did for the Devils last season.