New Jersey Devils Prospect Report: Eric Gelinas

Part of the struggle I have in looking at the Devils prospects is not being overly optimistic about their futures. With that in mind, I didn't want to get that excited about the future of Eric Gelinas even as he continued to pile up goals in the AHL, but it's hard not to. Gelinas, a 2009 second round pick of the Devils, scored his 16th goal on Wednesday which leads all AHL defensemen.

16 goals is impressive for an AHL rookie, let alone a defenseman, and I wanted to know how he was scoring. The stat sheets tell you that 8 of his goals were on the power play, but that’s not much information. After the jump I present available video on the goals he has scored and look back on his QMJHL stats to see if this type of production was expected and if his rate of goal scoring is sustainable.

Goal # Date Game # Situation Link Time Notes
1 10/22/2012 6 PP Goal #1 1:30 Gelinas playing towards half-wall, scrum/loose puck in front. Gelinas scores from few feet out
2 10/22/2012 6 PP Goal #2 2:40 Playing at point/half-wall. Kicked puck to Taormina, got to net and he scored from same spot.
3 11/19/2012 16 PP X X X
4 12/26/2012 30 ES X X Notes from game say he fired a slap shot from point
5 12/27/2012 31 PP X X Notes from game say he fired a 'blast' from point
6 1/6/2012 34 ES Goal #6 1:50 Clean faceoff win gives Gelinas puck, puts puck through traffic and scores.
7 1/7/2012 35 4X4 Goal #7 :10 2 on 1, Zajac gets Gelinas puck, wrist shot from high slot
8 2/3/2012 43 ES Goal #8 :05 Off rush, Gelinas gets puck coming into D zone, blast shot for goal
9 2/18/2012 49 ES Goal #9 :05 Starts rush, gets puck on 3 on 3 rush, wrist shot from between blueline/circle
10 2/18/2012 49 5X6 Goal #10 1:05 Empty netter
11 2/24/2012 52 5X3 Goal #11 1:30 Shot from point gets through on 2 man advantage
12 2/25/2012 53 PP Goal #12 1:05 High slot/point shot
13 3/3/2012 56 ES Goal #13 :37 Slap from the point beats LOLeighton
14 3/16/2012 61 ES Goal #14 :35 Wrist shot from left point, shot goes through screen
15 3/23/2012 65 PP X X Notes from game say he was setup from Tedenby, imagine it was a point shot
16 3/28/2012 67 ES Goal #16 :57 Defense was collapsed around goalie, Gelinas creeps in and snaps a wrist shot through

We can ascertain a few things viewing his goals. He has a good, quick shot that finds its way through traffic to get to the net. I don't necessarily see a very hard shot, but again with a quick release you can make up for a shot that doesn't have a great velocity. He also seems to skate well and that allows him to quickly join the rush when an odd man situation presents itself. His opportunism, which also speaks to his hockey sense, has helped him capitalize on plays that have broken down, especially on the power play.

OK, now let’s take a look at some of his statistics from the AHL and QMJHL to see if his current production is in line with what he has accomplished previously.

Gg_medium

First let's look at his shot totals. Gelinas currently has taken 144 shots this season, averaging 2.15 per game. In the QMJHL when you look at the average of his junior career, he was at 2.24, so he is shooting at what seems to be a similar rate to what he did while in the QMJHL. Some may want to point to his final year of junior plays as the best indicator of his production potential in the AHL/NHL, but I prefer to look at his entire career as opposed to just his best statistical year.

Ideally you want to see that shot total number a bit higher for a 'offensive-defenseman', although I put some of the fault on the players in front of him trying to drive play and keep the puck in the offensive zone. I think if Gelinas played with a better crop of forwards in Albany it would give him a better opportunity, especially at even strength, to put shots on net.

Now if you look at his stats, note that his highest goal total was 12 and that was last year. So what’s changed? He is shooting at 11.1 percent, which is very good for a defenseman, but not common. The 11.1 percentage has almost doubled from his career QMJHL shooting percentage.

To put some context behind his current shooting percentage, there are two NHL defensemen Nicklas Kronwall of Detroit (11.5) and Jason Garrison of Florida (10.1) who are shooting at that rate. In the AHL only Brendan Smith of Rochester (11.1) and TJ Brennan of Grand Rapids (10.1) had about 100 shots and a shooting percentage of more than 10 percent.

I hate to be a downer when a prospect is doing so well, but I have to believe that it will be very hard for Gelinas to duplicate this type of production in subsequent AHL/NHL years, unless he is able to get more shots on net.

This means that it’s likely we will see a drop in goal production from Gelinas next year. But understand, that doesn’t mean he isn’t doing well. It just means he has been lucky, and luck is often the result of hard work. Also, based on his shot output and assuming he might have a 6-8 percent shooting percentage and that he doesn’t increase his shot totals, Gelinas is roughly a 10 goal scorer right now in the AHL. 10 goals for a defenseman at an AHL affiliate of the Devils is an impressive feat in itself.

How impressive? Consider that in the last 7 years only two Albany/Lowell Devils have scored as many as 10 goals: Matt Taormina in 2009-10 and Dan McGillis in 2006-07. Taormina was playing in his first season after he graduated college and McGillis was a seasoned NHL veteran.

Gelinas has a bright future ahead of him. That said, let's not delude ourselves into thinking he is the next Erik Karlsson. As fans it’s important that we don’t place unrealistic expectations on prospects, especially if they are based on statistics that aren’t likely to continue.

That's it for this week; please leave any Gelinas related questions or comments below. Thanks for reading and sound off below!

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