When Colorado traded for Eric Gelinas at last year's trade deadline, he was not a name familiar to a lot of Avalanche fans. Many expressed utter confusion on that February morning, "Wait -- this is the player that's supposed to bolster the defense for our playoff run?" Well, perhaps, but it's also likely the team was looking long-term at a younger player with quite a bit of upside still.
MHH Survey Grade: 68.0%
Eric Gelinas was drafted in 2009 by the New Jersey Devils 54th overall. He played his junior hockey in -- you guessed it -- the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he played for three teams over four seasons and won a Memorial Cup with the St. Johns Ice Dogs in 2011. After two seasons with the Devils' AHL affiliate, Gelinas got his first real taste of NHL action in 2013-14, when he played is 60 games and scored 29 points. He'd follow that up the next season with 19 points in 61 games, further establishing himself in New Jersey's starting defensive group. But his playing time and production plummeted last year with the Devils, appearing in only 34 games and scoring six points before getting shipped off at the deadline.
Our brothers-in-blog over at All About The Jersey had this to say about Gelinas on Oct. 28th:
Gelinas has been maligned for his defensive play in the past couple seasons and the first few weeks of the 2015-16 have done little to quell those criticisms. Gelinas has had issues with coverage in his own end and seems to get lost far too easily. He has also seemed to struggle in one-on-one situations and continues to be a bit of an all-around liability in the Devils' own zone. He's also had mental lapses in his game elsewhere and with a lack of awareness, his below-average mobility becomes easy to expose.
Mon dieu! He fits right in!
We didn't get a large sample by which to judge Gelinas in Colorado, as he injured an elbow in an awkward collision along the boards just six games into his tenure, but we didn't exactly see anything that would lead us to disagree with that evaluation either. Gelinas wasn't good in his short time with the team, but he also wasn't worse than the players on the bottom pairing he was brought in to replace. And none of those guys have the bomb from the point Gelinas does.
And some of that ineffectiveness can be attributed to acclimation process. I mean, it's hard to blame a young player when he was tasked to learn whatever the hell the Avalanche run on the fly. Going from system-to-system is one thing, but transitioning to utter nonsense has to be something else entirely. Experts say utter nonsense takes at least one offseason to learn.
MHH Staff Grade: Incomplete
Yeah, yeah...I know. It's a bit of a cop out and all of you were forced to actually choose a grade, but I think it illustrates an important point. He didn't get much of a chance to leave an impression, but if the defensive roster stays put this offseason, Gelinas has quite a bit of work to do to break the Top-6. Chances are we're looking at our new 7th defenseman and that's not terrible depth. He'll get numerous opportunities to fill in for banged up players and hopefully that monster shot of his is ready to go.