Pete DeBoer changed things up Thursday morning, swapping Mattias Tedenby in for Dainius Zubrus on the top line at practice. It was Tedenby’s first stint with Zajac since spending some time there during training camp, but the timing was what caught my eye. Tedenby was, for all intents and purposes, benched for most of Tuesday’s game against Philadelphia after committing a stupid penalty early in the second period. Tedenby, a former first-round pick, obviously has an offensive skillset, but it’s his defensive mistakes and those mental lapses that have impeded his playing time thus far in his career.
So, after giving Tedenby some time on the top line Thursday, DeBoer was asked whether the speedy winger is a project or a real weapon for the Devils:
I think that’s the question. … I guess what I’m looking for is consistency in his game. Effort’s always there. You never get a B-level effort out of him, but you’re looking for that consistency at both ends of the rink where a coach trusts putting you on the ice on a regular basis.
Corey GriffinThere’s no disputing Tedenby’s positives. Even Ilya Kovalchuk was effusive in his praise of his teammate’s speed and shot, but those mental lapses are hard for a young player to kick. Just look at what’s happening across the river with Chris Kreider, who is in danger of being sent down to the AHL after last year’s playoff run. That said, I think what Tedenby brings to that top line (“Speed,” is the word he used) makes it worth giving the experiment a shot. We already know what Kovy and Zajac can do together, but adding a dynamic speed element could really help create space on the ice for them, plus help stretch out defenses. Even if they don’t do it against a Washington team that will likely be very aggressive and desperate tomorrow (more on that in a later post today), I’d expect them to give it a shot at some point this season. It’s too tantalizing of a proposition not to try.