Rookie defensemen Eric Gelinas is a player who has New Jersey Devils fans very excited about the future. This was the first season that we got a really good look at what we can expect for the future. Gelinas was given a shot early in the season thanks to an injury to captain Bryce Salvador. It seemed like the pressure didn’t get to the 23-year-old at all.
Gelinas was great to start off the season, especially on the offensive side. His huge shot was exactly what the team needed on the power play. Having to pay attention to the player on the blue line opens up things underneath. Gelinas was one of the main reasons why the Devils’ power play was ranked in the top 10 in the league. If you look at his contributions on the PP, he is an A+ player.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the only thing you have to look at. There were times that Gelinas made some serious rookie mistakes. There were times when he pinched when he shouldn’t have, and other times where he wasn’t aggressive enough.
It showed in how Peter DeBoer used him throughout the year. There were times when the coach decided to go with seven defenseman during a game. In those scenarios, it seemed Gelinas got the least amount of time on the ice. DeBoer seemed to trust fellow rookie Jon Merrill more than Gelinas.
You can also look at the versatility of Gelinas over the year. When the Devils were decimated by injuries up front, he was willing to play some games at forward. He played his first game there against the Toronto Maple Leafs and looked good. That could be something the coaching staff looks at as a long-term option.
When grading Gelinas’ first season, you have to be lenient. He is a rookie, and a very good one at that. The future is bright in Newark thanks in part to this guy. He gave this team a boost at the beginning of the year when the team could have spiraled down to the doldrums of the Eastern Conference.
Season Grade: B+