New Jersey Devils‘ star rookie defenseman Eric Gelinas was surprisingly sent down to the team’s AHL affiliate, the Albany Devils.
This move took everyone by surprise as Gelinas’ offensive game seemed like something the Devils could not afford to lose. According to coach Peter DeBoer, Gelinas was pressing too much. He sent him down to the minors to “get his game back,” according to GM Lou Lamoriello.
Although Gelinas never seemed to lose his offensive game, his defense seemed to falter in recent weeks. He looked like he was focusing on getting points instead of helping out his goaltender. His minus-four rating should be higher seeing that he plays on the power play. The team understands that he is going to make rookie mistakes, but they should not be as plentiful as they have been the past two weeks. That minus-four was obtained in the last seven games. In the 26 games prior he was even which is what you want from a rookie. He was especially bad last night against the Chicago Blackhawks, but you can’t judge a rookie defenseman on one game against the highest scoring offense in the league.
The really confusing part of this move is the fact that the team is keeping Jon Merrill on the NHL roster. He is worse than Gelinas with a minus-6 in less games. In 20 games, Merrill only has two points on the season against Gelinas’ 16. He has not provided much offensive spark while making a few bonehead plays himself. He will probably get sent down also when Adam Larsson comes back from injury, but to send the message that you think he has been more consistent in his time with the Devils is not very smart.
This could be a short-term situation. The Devils have a abundance of defensemen coming back from injury, and Anton Volchenkov is the veteran who gets back in the lineup tonight. Last season this would have been a disaster, but he has been much better this season. Larsson is also on his way back, which would only add to the confusion. Hopefully Gelinas finds whatever the Devils think he needs to find, because this team needs his offensive presence on the ice. They can afford to lose him against a team like the Buffalo Sabres, but there are some pretty hard matchups coming up.