When New Jersey Devils captain Bryce Salvador returns to the team, someone will have to head back to the minors. There are several different options to choose from for GM Lou Lamoriello, which makes the decision a difficult one. Dave and Jeff debate who should be the odd man out that’s sent to Albany.
This is a tough decision, but the play of Eric Gelinas has put the Devils in a tough situation. If Gelinas wasn’t playing as well as he is, the decision would be quite simple: send him back down to Albany. In the preseason he was good, and now in three games, he’s already showing signs of the big-time expectations that this club has for him.
With that being said, I believe that it’s Peter Harrold who has to go. Here is where things get tricky… Harrold would have to clear waivers if he’s sent down to Albany. That fact means that any team could pick him up if the Devils were to try to send him down. Would the Devils like to lose him? Certainly not. Like Harrold or not, he’s a decent defenseman. He’s solid in his own zone and he has the ability to make some nice breakout passes.
What it boils down to right now is that Gelinas does more for this club than Harrold does. Would it be worth it to lose Harrold for nothing in order to keep Gelinas? I believe the answer to that is yes. The former Boston College Eagle was a nice part of the 2011-2012 Eastern Conference Championship team, but we know his ceiling. At his best, Harrold is a sixth defenseman. Optimally, he’s a very good seventh guy who can step in to the lineup and compete in the case of an injury.
The other x-factor in this decision is Mark Fayne. He has stepped it up in his opportunities so far this season and he’d serve just fine as the seventh defenseman. If this was an issue of leaving the team with only six d-men, then yes, Harrold would have to stay, but with Fayne, the team has the luxury of having a seventh man on the roster.
The other issue with sending No. 10 to Albany would be that if he does clear waivers, which is totally possible, his one-way, two-year contract at $800,000 would have to be paid as is. Lou Lamoriello has said that he doesn’t want to stash an NHL contract down in Albany, so that is definitely a deciding factor.
With the new ownership, $800,000 is not an exorbinant amount of money to eat. Gelinas is making $210,000 in Albany, so really, the difference is $590,000. In the pursuit of trying to win games and make the playoffs, is that such an insurmountable number? I don’t think so.
Though it would be unfortunate to lose Harrold if he’s picked up on waivers, keeping Eric Gelinas and Mark Fayne on the roster gives this team the best chance to win. We’ve already seen a glimpse of what Gelinas can do and it’s worth the risk, even at the expense of either losing Harrold, or paying him big money in the minors.
Believe it or not, Eric Gelinas should be the one heading back to Albany. Gelinas goes back to Albany, Salvador steps back into the starting lineup. Now, Pete DeBoer shouldn’t look at him as being in the minors. The Devils should call him back up when they feel a veteran should be healthy scratched. How you can do that, is sending players like Stephen Gionta, Mattias Tedenby or Jacob Josefson through waivers.
After losing Alex Urbom on waivers, I can’t see Lamoriello letting another defenseman going for nothing, but maybe he’d let a forward go if it means he could keep all his defensemen and use them how he wants to. The Devils have a surplus of bottom line spare parts like the afforementioned three. If potentially losing one of them means, in essence, keeping Gelinas around without losing Fayne or Harrold, they should go for it.
This probably goes against all conventional front office thinking, but it could work if the Devils don’t mind losing a forward. It’s highly doubtful anyone claims one of those three anyway. If they are, they must be on their active NHL roster. A team can’t claim one of those three forwards and just stash him with their AHL affiliate. Consider that when Ryane Clowe comes back, another forward will be dropping down to Albany anyway, so there will be EVEN MORE extra forwards.
Keeping Gelinas “on the team” will make the Devils the best club they can be. Their goaltending is set, they did all they could in the offseason to re-tool their offense and now their defense can have all its assets on the big roster. If they keep Gelinas around, they are leaving no stone unturned for 2013-14 and are putting the best possible roster they can on the ice every night.