Colorado Avalanche: Does Eric Gelinas Benefit the Team?

Jan 19, 2016; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils defenseman Eric Gelinas (44) shoots the puck as Calgary Flames defenseman Ladislav Smid (15) defends during the second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 19, 2016; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils defenseman Eric Gelinas (44) shoots the puck as Calgary Flames defenseman Ladislav Smid (15) defends during the second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche’s newest defenseman, Eric Gelinas, is not only proving his worth already, he has the potential to be a big benefit to the team overall.

The Colorado Avalanche acquired defenseman Eric Gelinas from the New Jersey Devils for a 2017 third-round draft pick. As far as I’m concerned, Colorado picked New Jersey’s pocket. Eric Gelinas has it in him to be a boon to the team.

Gelinas is a defenseman in the Colorado Avalanche’s style. At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, he’s a big player like Erik Johnson and Nick Holden are big. Gelinas is also a good skater with puck-moving abilities. Additionally, he’s got good offensive upside.

Like I said, Eric Gelinas is right up the Avalanche’s ally.

I’ve got a special interest in Eric Gelinas. Last summer I was looking around for restricted free agent defenseman for Colorado to make an offer on. I saw that Gelinas was being under-utilized by the Devils, so I suggested the Avalanche should make an offer for him.

That didn’t happen. However, as the trade deadline approached, I decided to check in on him again. He was being even more under-utilized by New Jersey, and he still made sense for Colorado. This time, the trade actually happened!

Gelinas had to miss two games because of a slight back injury suffered in his debut against the Minnesota Wild. (Will they ever stop targeting our defensemen?) However, I attended his Pepsi Center debut, and I saw good things from the young defenseman. Let’s look at how Eric Gelinas can benefit the Colorado Avalanche.

Word of Roy

Head coach Patrick Roy talked to Eric Gelinas even before the trade was finalized on deadline day. The Colorado Avalanche have pledged to upgrade the blueline, and that’s been the front offices’ priority — but Roy has final say as VP of hockey operations.

Gelinas has only played in two games so far for the Colorado Avalanche — the Minnesota game and Monday’s home game against the Arizona Coyotes. During a post-practice presser, coach Roy spoke only about the Coyotes game:

"“During the course of the game I thought [Gelinas] started to feel more comfortable. I like the way he played. He’s got a great shot, he’s a great skater.”"

I definitely noticed his powerful skating. He was somewhat hampered by being paired with Zach Redmond, who seems to have regressed in his game since last year. (At one point Redmond got a 14-second shift from Roy while Gelinas was out with Erik Johnson for part of the time.) I’d like to see Gelinas with Bigras or, even better, Nick Holden. (That’s next year when Zadorov inevitably joins the top-four — or, you know, the team.)

More from Mile High Sticking

Coach Roy acknowledged that Gelinas was in a tough position going into the Coyotes game because he hadn’t participated in a full practice yet with the Colorado Avalanche. He’d only participated in two morning skates — the one in Minnesota and the one before the Arizona game. However, coach Roy said Gelinas “did a good job.” He added, “I was very happy with his game in general.”

That said, Eric Gelinas does have some improvements to make, which isn’t surprising considering he’s played just 158 NHL games in four years and spent a lot of time languishing on New Jersey’s bench. Coach Roy would like to see defensive coach Dave Farrish work with Gelinas on his defensive positioning and his stick work. Roy added, “For him I think it’s just a matter of getting some confidence.

That’s Roy-speak for “His game’s a little messy, but we can fix it pretty easily.”

Eric on Erik Action

Eric Gelinas is known for having a cannon of a shot from the blueline, while Erik Johnson is known for having a bomb of a shot from the point. What’s the difference? Not a lot — and both are good for the Colorado Avalanche.

In fact, one of the reasons Colorado wanted to acquire Gelinas was because of his hard shot. He’s known for being a shooter on the power play. As such, coach Roy gave him some power play minutes — 2:08, to be exact — during the Coyotes game. He played on the second power play unit with Erik Johnson.

I saw first-had that cannon. I wish there were video available because when Eric Gelinas shot from the blueline on the power play, there was a literal boom.

Putting Gelinas on the power play with Johnson means Francois Beauchemin doesn’t get much, if any, power play time. Beauchemin is taking this in stride, according to the Denver Post:

"“We need some wins, so it doesn’t matter how much time I’m out on the ice. As long as we’re winning, I’ll be happy.”"

In fact, Beauchemin still leads the team in ice time, including during the Coyotes game when he saw no power play action. He’s still partnered with Johnson as the top pairing during even strength play.

I like Gelinas on the power play with Johnson. Both of them like to unleash their heavy shots during the man-advantage. That can wear teams down — just because you didn’t have to block Erik’s shot doesn’t mean you’re immune from Eric’s shot.

Related Story: New Players Prove their Worth to the Avs

Gels’ Take

Embed from Getty Images

Eric Gelinas wasn’t getting a chance to show his capabilities with the New Jersey Devils. He was making a little bit of headway in earning the coach’s trust his first two years in the NHL. However, the Devils got a new coach this season, and Gelinas had to start from square one.

As Gelinas himself has pointed out more than once, the Devils employ a defensive system. He even called it “pretty simple hockey.”

As we well know, the Colorado Avalanche aren’t exactly known for playing simple hockey. Gelinas picked up on that right away. During a pre-game presser, he talked about his excitement over coming to the Avalanche:

"“I think it’s one of the most exciting teams in the league to watch with all of the young stars. I was real happy to get traded here.”"

Even though Gelinas thinks his biggest asset is his hard shot — and the fact that he likes to shoot — he learned a lot about playing a defensive system in New Jersey. He wants to employ those lessons while with the Colorado Avalanche. According to

"“Playing a really defensive system I think is going to help me and my defensive game with Colorado. They’re really big on details defensively in New Jersey, so I’m going to keep that with my game and try to play the way I play offensively and try to be a complete player. I’ve had some success offensively and now I’m grown as a player defensively, so I really want to go there and have some fun and play some hockey.”"

That’s the kind of two-way play the Colorado Avalanche like to see in their players. Coach Roy initially liked pairing a really offense-minded player with a stay-at-home guy (think the Tyson BarrieNate Guening pairing), but he’s transitioned into more two-way play across the board.

Next: Analysis of Boedker and Gelinas

Eric Gelinas definitely has it in him to contribute on both ends of the ice. We’ll see more of his capabilities tonight against the Anaheim Ducks. Here’s Eric Gelinas talking prior to the Anaheim Ducks game:

I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of Gelinas in the future as well — the Colorado Avalanche may use him as the cornerstone of the third defensive pairing and part of the cornerstone (with Johnson) of the second power play unit.

In short, Eric Gelinas fits the Colorado Avalanche’s commitment to upgrading the blueline.