As with many players on the Devils this year, this could be a make or break year for D Marek Zidlicky. The Devils gave up a lot to acquire Marek and he has not amounted to what they expected of him. Zidlicky had his worst year by far last season as he had a -12 +/- rating and not nearly enough production.
Zidlicky had shown plenty of promise when he was young and just drafted by the New York Rangers. They never agreed to a deal and he was eventually traded to Nashville to start his NHL career. He notched an assist his first career game and a goal his second career game and showed plenty of talent in Nashville. His worst +/- season in Nashville was in his first season with a -16 rating but also produced 53 points (still a career-high) in 82 games. He had 26 PP assists his “worst” year to this point. He also had 4 GWG which would now stand as a career-high.
Zidlicky received a change in scenery when he was dealt to the Minnesota Wild. Out of his 3 1/2 years there he would prove to produce more than his plus/minus would show. His first year he would have a -12 but also have 42 points, 10 PPG and 15 PPA. The next season he would have a -16 but would still put up 43 points and 20 PPA.
If you want to group half of 2011-12 and this past season (because of the lockout) compared to one other season (70 games played), he’s only contributed 27 points, a -12 rating, 3 PPG, and 13 PPA. For a 1st-line defenceman, power play numbers are crucial to judging a D-man’s effectiveness.
What to Expect
The Devils took a chance in re-signing him for one more year. Along with a $3 million base salary, there is another million in incentives and will contribute a total cap hit of 4 million. For a Pre-Kovalchuk signing, that took a fair chunk out of their cap space.
It is completely up-in-the-air what we can expect from Marek. He has shown plenty signs of quality seasons that, despite the +/- being low, he puts up points that average forwards can’t even muster up. Other times he barely scrapes by as a legitimate defender and doesn’t contribute where the Devils need him to contribute.
This is it for Marek. Many consider Zidlicky to be lucky that he was able to be a Devil from another year. He will likely be on the first line with maybe Volchenkov. With Bryce Salvador pretty much confirmed as the captain for this year, he could get the promotion and bump out either Anton or Marek. Time will tell.