The play of rookie defenseman Eric Gelinas has carried the New Jersey Devils into the third position in the Metropolitan Division.
He is currently playing with a very good crop of veteran defenders, even though he is usually paired with fellow rookie Jon Merrill. He seems to have honed the defensive side of the game, something that was a worry when he was brought up back on Oct. 23. He has solidified a spot on this team when the rash of injured defenders returns. Along with Merrill, he has allowed the Devils to take their time with the likes of Adam Larsson, Peter Harrold and Bryce Salvador.
Gelinas has played so well that he has been brought up, in passing but still, for a chance to be named as a candidate in the Calder Trophy race. It will be a tough race, but some people may have a point.
He has been very good offensively. He has 15 points in 28 games. He has been a perfect compliment to Marek Zidlicky on the second line of the power play. He has nine points on the power play alone. With only eight penalty minutes he has done a good job of not putting the Devils in trouble often. He is averaging close to 20 minutes per game of ice time as well.
The negatives against him include his -3 plus/minus. He needs to bring that up into the positives if he is going to make noise in a large class of rookies. The competition may hurt him. Tomas Hertl could be the rookie winner if it ended today, but he was just lost for possibly a month which will just hurt his chances. Nathan MacKinnon is also in the running with 20 points in his rookie season. Seth Jones is doing well with the Nashville Predators, and he is more well known as a defenseman which will hurt Gelinas when voting happens. Torey Krug, Chris Kreider, Sean Monahan and Hampus Lindholm are all names that will get mentioned when voting happens.
There is still a lot of season left before any of this will come to fruition. Gelinas could fall off or really blast off by then. Many candidates could get injured, have a few bad stretches or really separate themselves from the pack. It is too early to predict trophies, but it is enough to say that Gelinas needs to be more consistent and get a few more accolades before he has a shot to be the NHL‘s Rookie of the Year.
Nick Villano is the New Jersey Devils writer for Rant Sports. He also writes for the NBA, NFL and MLB sections of the site. You can follow him on Twitter for more sports chatter.