With the decision to let legendary goalie Martin Brodeur walk away from New Jersey after 21 seasons of loyal service this off-season, the last remaining Devil from their recent ‘dynasty’ is winger Patrik Elias.
Drafted in 1994 with the 51st overall pick, Patrik Elias has been one of the Devils most productive offensive weapons for the last 2 decades. Over that span, the Devils were considered a playoff lock, reaching the postseason 13 times in a row from the 1996-97 to 2009-10 seasons. Elias was a vital member of the offensive during this period as he lead New Jersey to two Stanley Cup championships in both 2000 and 2003.
In his 16 seasons with the Devils, Elias has secured his place as the team’s leading point scorer, with a current total of 983 points. Since playing in his first full season during the 1997-98 campaign, Elias has failed to register at least 50 points in a season only four times. The first was his rookie season, when the then 21 year old winger recorded 37 points in 74 games, placing him 3rd in voting for Rookie of the Year.
Aside from his rookie year, Elias has not been given a full season to reach the 50 point plateau, due either to injury or a shortened schedule. Injury prevented Elias from competing in a full year of play twice, leaving him with point totals of 45 and 48. However, averaging 1.18 and 0.83 points per game, Elias could have easily surpassed 50 points. Had he played 76 games those years, the average number of games he plays a season, Elias would have had point totals of 90 & 63, blowing past the 50 mark.
The same could be made of the 2012-13 season; the most recent year Elias failed to score 50 points. Due to the lock out, the NHL had to shorten the season to 48 games. That year, Elias mustered up 14 goals and 22 assists, to record 36 points. Again, had he been given a chance to play his average number of games that year, his 0.75 points per game that season would have resulted in 57 points for the year.
Despite a season shortened by injury, Elias managed to surpass 50 points during the 2013-14 season and was scoring at a better rate than the 2012-13 season, recording 0.82 points per game. Accumulating 53 points in the 65 games he played this year, Elias was able to rank second among the team in points scored, trailing only Jaromir Jagr’s 67.
With last season’s scoring rate landing Elias in the NHL’s top 50, what can we expect from him in the coming season and the future? With his numbers from last year surpassing the previous one, Elias will look to continue his productive play with the Devils new and improved offense. With more weapons like Cammalleri and Havlat more scoring opportunities will arise and players like Elias will capitalize greatly.
Elias is under contract for the next two seasons and entering the year at the age of 39 it is hard to say if he will play past this contract. However, Elias has proven he is still a dynamic offensive threat and shows no signs of slowing down. Looking at the data from the past five seasons, there has been no steady drop in his points per game, tallying totals of 0.83, 0.77, 0.96, 0.75, & 0.82. Averaging the past five season totals together yields 0.826 points per game which is only a bit lower than his career average of 0.85. Being able to play at a competitive level will dictate how long Elias’ career will last; but with constant production, it’s possible Devils fans will see #26 on the ice for years to come.