Stephen Gionta is another portion of the New Jersey Devils famed fourth line. He is a player that finally figured out how to use his small size after years in the minor leagues. After being a crucial piece to the Devils run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012, he has been a mainstay in the lineup ever since.
In the lockout shortened season, Gionta was very good for the role he was given. He played every single game and scored as many five-on-five goals as Ilya Kovalchuk. He looked like he could be one of the better signings of the offseason for the Devils.
Unfortunately, that didn’t continue in 2013-14. He didn’t record his first goal until December. He just couldn’t get it together, along with the rest of the fourth line. With Steve Bernier and Ryan Carter, they just couldn’t provide the spark they did in past games. After scoring a goal against the Detroit Red Wings on March 4, he didn’t score again all season. He wasn’t even getting assists, ending the season with a modest seven. This was not the season Gionta wanted during a contract year.
He missed 16 games throughout the season. Most of those games were missed from late November to mid December when he was put on IR with an ankle injury. While he seemed like he played better when he came back, an injury never helps you in contract negotiations. He will probably get picked up, especially since his brother Brian Gionta is also a free agent.
The worst part of Gionta’s season was his plus/minus. He ended the season at a minus-eight. That is the worst he has put up since his 2007-08 season with the AHL Lowell Devils. It was a disappointment when big things were thought to come from Gionta. It is hard to say what the future holds for the 30-year-old winger. Whichever way you look at it, this season was below average. That is the grade that you have to give him for 2013-14.
Season Grade: C-