I hope I don’t upset too many of the Devils faithful with this article, but it’s something I’ve felt strongly about for a while. The Devils need to lose Marek Zidlicky.
Throughout the season, it seemed as though I was the only person who thinks he isn’t as great as the media makes him out to be. To be blunt, I can’t tell you how many times I cursed at him through the TV while watching him screw up an offensive play. Obviously the trade for him payed off during the year and didn’t hurt the team as a whole, but he is by no means a player we should keep around.
Don’t get me wrong, when I first found out the Devils traded for him, I was very excited. I was actually at The Rock watching the Devils play the Vancouver Canucks when the trade went through and they announced it over the big-screen. I was a little disappointed the Devils gave up Kurtis Foster, as I really liked him, but was not sorry to see Nick Palmieri or the rest go. In his first couple games with the team, Zidlicky struggled. He clearly wasn’t grasping the Devils’ system. I kept waiting to see him break out and emerge as a leader of the defense while strengthening our power play. While he did help our special teams eventually, he also hurt them quite a bit. More often than not, when the puck left the offensive zone during a man-advantage, it was because of him. For every power play he helped with his passing, he also killed another one with his poor puck control. Obviously, power plays are not supposed to be perfect and mistakes will be made by everyone, but his consistent lack of effort made it frustrating to watch.
I seem to be one of the few that has such strong negative opinions about him, however. The commentators love to mention his good defensive plays and happen to ignore his poor offensive play. As a defenseman I don’t expect him to be a scoring machine, but seeing as the Devils gave up an arm, leg, and thigh to get him, he should live up to his deal and put up some points or at least help maintain offensive plays. The past two seasons have seen Zidlicky’s point totals drop dramatically. He went from 43 points in 09-10 to 24 points in 10-11, and 22 points in 11-12. To be fair, he did play fewer games these past few seasons, but still -19 points is a pretty big drop. Through the season it never appeared as if he grasped the Devils’ system enough to merit more time with the team.
The Devils currently have eight defensive players on the roster right now which must be cut. With the loss of Parise still looming over the organization, a Zidlicky trade could bring in another scoring player to fill some of the shoes left by our former captain. The Edmonton Oilers have defensive needs that may persuade them to part with Ales Hemsky or Shawn Horcoff in exchange for Zidlicky. If no trade is made, we can only hope that our new assistant coach, Scott Stevens, can help him develop more.
Perhaps this is just me bullying a player that the team seems to like. Perhaps not. I’d love to hear your thoughts!