Thanks to the surprise (and controversial) retirement of Ilya Kovalchuk, the fact that the New Jersey Devils re-signed Marek Zidlicky has flown under the radar. Which is probably a good thing, since it is a puzzling move, as the Devils brought him back on a new one-year contract.
Zidlicky will be taking home a pretty nice haul as a result of this new deal, with the one-year deal carrying a cap hit of $4 million. Not bad for a guy who essentially served as a pylon in his own zone last season. Which is part of the reason that this deal makes little sense for the Devils.
There are some valid reasons as to why Zidlicky may have been brought back. In his short time with the Devils, which included a handful of games at the end of 2011-12, and the entire 2013 season, Zidlicky has been an asset on offense from the blue line. He’s the man on the power play, logging 3:37 per game with the man advantage, tops on the team.
He put up 19 points from the New Jersey blue line in 2013, which was the best among Devils defenseman and fifth on the team overall. So from an offensive point of view, you could see why the Devils did bring him back. But the case against doing so far overshadows what he does on offense.
Zidlicky was bad in his own zone in 2013, there’s really no other way to put it. He was a minus-12 for the year, and ranked third in penalty minutes on the team, first overall for defensemen. It was also believed that younger guys would see an increased role next season, such as Adam Larsson. Zidlicky returning prevents that, to a certain degree.
Trading Henrik Tallinder opens up room and helps this to make a bit more sense. But when it comes down to it, bringing Zidlicky back may have been the wrong move for the New Jersey Devils.