Jan 4, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; New Jersey Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky (2) against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Should Marek Zidlicky Return Next Season?

Jan 26, 2014; New York City, NY, USA; New York Rangers left wing Carl Hagelin (62) battles for the puck with New Jersey Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky (2) during the second period of the Stadium Series hockey game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

This past offseason, Marek Zidlicky was dead to many fans of the New Jersey Devils and fans were extremely upset at his signing for one more season, especially at the hefty price tag of $4 million. He has produced the numbers to back up that decision at the very least.

Marek Zidlicky is coming off a very underwhelming lockout-shortened season that was his first full season with the team. He played in all 48 games and posted 4 goals and 15 assists with a -12 rating.

19 points and a -12 rating for an offensive defenseman (whether he wants that role or not) like Zidlicky is not good news.

That is one main reason why people were so skeptical about him returning for the 2013-14 season especially with the young talent waiting in Albany.

While Zidlicky’s defense is still inconsistent, his offensive skills have shown up this season. To this point in the season, he has 8 goals and 21 assists with a +2 rating. He also tallied a lot of points during the Devils’ opening skid this season. While, he has played 10 more games than last season already, the 10 points extra to this point always help and his +/- is considerably better this season.

Feb 3, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene (9) skates with the puck while being defended by New Jersey Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky (2) during the first period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Zidlicky has also registered most of his goals on the powerplay this season. He has 5 goals and 7 assists with 2 shorthanded assists to this point. Powerplay production is important for Zidlicky’s value as he is one of the blue-liners on the PP.

In regards to him returning, despite the production posted this season, his future still looks shaky depending on how Lou Lamoriello wants to play things.

Jon Merrill and Eric Gelinas are both back in Albany waiting to return while Adam Larsson has practically been banished to Albany. That’s 3 NHL-ready defensemen with a couple more in Albany about a full season away.

If the Devils find a better defensive asset that could also produce Zidlicky’s offensive output, we could easily see the last of him this season.

Merrill, Gelinas, and Larsson will also come cheaper than Zidlicky was signed for this season. Zidlicky’s contract has a $3 million cap hit with another million in incentives in his contract.

Larsson is signed for $925,000 (but that will change once his contract expires this year [or will it]) while Merrill is being paid $900,000 and Gelinas is receiving $870,000.

For now, this is a situation where the rest of the season needs to play out. I’m currently on the fence about Zidlicky considering Pete DeBoer is still the coach and that means young players basically get burned at the stake.

Sound off Devils Army! Do you think Marek Zidlicky should return after this season?

Stats courtesy of ESPN.com and CapGeek.com.

Should Marek Zidlicky Return Next Season?

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