Marek Zidlicky showed the New Jersey Devils that he is worth every penny he was given to stick with the team.
It was somewhat of a surprise that general manager Lou Lamoriello decided to bring back the high scoring defender on a one year, $3 million deal that could turn into $4 million, if he meets certain bonuses and incentives. The push back from fans showed they weren’t exactly happy with the move. He was taking a place that could be held by one of the fine, young players they were holding in the AHL, and they could get a chance to get NHL minutes on the cheap. Jon Merrill and Eric Gelinas were the two players that most fans thought would make a one for one trade for Zidlicky.
This season, Zidlicky has shown his value to this team. He currently has nine points in 11 games, including his first goal on Saturday to tie the game with 1:08 remaining. Unfortunately, he has had some bonehead moments that seem to always turn into goals, but his detractors need to look at his positives.
This is the first season that Zidlicky is saving more goals than he is allowing. The defense, as a whole, has played better the past couple of games (outside of yesterday’s first period, of course). His game faltered a little against the Ottawa Senators, Columbus Blue Jackets and the Boston Bruins. Beyond those three, he has played very well. If he can become consistent on the defensive side, he could be one of the most complete defenders in the NHL.
His offense will always be his game, and he is currently tied with Jaromir Jagr for the team lead in points. He is on pace for 60 assists on the season, and is currently only behind P.K. Subban and Cody Franson in assists. If he continues on this pace, he will tie Scott Stevens for the team record of most assists in the team’s history.
Whether you love him or you hate him, you have to admit that Zidlicky has been a crucial part of this team and will be going forward. Him and recent call up Eric Gelinas can take on that powerplay point shot that makes their offense so much better with the man advantage. He is going to have a very good season as long as he stays healthy.