Eric Gelinas Still Can’t Crack The Devils’ Lineup Consistently


When Peter DeBoer got fired, it finally seemed like Adam Larsson and Eric Gelinas would get out of the dog house. When Scott Stevens was announced as Devils’ Defensive Coordinator he had positive comments regarding the two young defenders that couldn’t seem to play consistently under DeBoer. It felt like things were finally going to be different. For Larsson, it’s been night and day. The 22-year-old Swedish defender has thrived since Stevens took over; unfortunately, Eric Gelinas has not.

Tom Gulitti tweeted out comments GM Lou Lamoriello had about Gelinas once again being a healthy scratch for tonight’s contest against the Ottawa Senators.

I understand what Lamoriello is saying about Eric Gelinas. It’s a valid point to say that Gelinas needs to become more sturdy defensively before the coaching staff can fully trust him. He’s not wrong. Gelinas, at this point in his career, is far more established offensively than defensively. He has a booming slap shot and is a power play specialist. Then, on defense, he has his struggles. I personally feel like he’s been better lately as he’s starting to use his 6’4″ 210 lb. frame to good use, but he’s still not defensively reliable by any means. So looking at it in a vacuum, I understand why Gelinas isn’t playing much.

However, you can’t just look at it in a vacuum. There are at least six other players Gelinas is competing with on any given day for a spot in the lineup. Andy Greene and Adam Larsson aren’t sitting. Marek Zidlicky isn’t sitting (even though he’s not great defensively in his own right). That leaves Mark Fraser, Jon Merrill and Peter Harrold. Fraser has played decent since he made his return to the Devils and he brings a physical aspect they need, so I can see him playing for now. Down to Merrill and Harrold…

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Jon Merrill is another young defenseman who has had his growing pains. He’s had a terrible season and turns the puck over at will. Yet somehow, he’s immune to the bench. This is why Lamoriello’s comments irked me. He said Gelinas is “no different than any other young player,” but he clearly is. Jon Merrill makes just as many, if not more, mistakes than Eric Gelinas and yet only one ever sits. In their career, Merrill is a -12 compared to Gelinas’ -2. Gelinas also has contibuted 19 more points in a similar amount of games. Accountability within this organization is nowhere to be found, still.

As far as Peter Harrold goes, the fact he plays over a young weapon like Eric Gelinas continues to befuddle me. Harrold, to put it lightly, is not very good. He’s not the worst player I’ve ever seen, but he’s far from the best. He’s a seventh defender at best and should not be playing over young players with more skill and upside. He’s played 88 games in a Devils’ uniform and has just 12 points while being a -21. MINUS TWENTY ONE. And he still sees the ice regularly over Gelinas. How is that putting “the best lineup on the ice” at all???

Eric Gelinas is far from a finished product. He needs to develop his game and the only way he can do that is by playing. Peter Harrold should never play over Gelinas, ever, and Jon Merrill cannot be held to a different standard than him either.

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