New Jersey defenseman Eric Gelinas’ had a fine campaign, scoring 27 points in 53 games while emerging as one of the best offensive rookie defensemen in the league.
As such, the Devils are going to start playing him at forward.
“They call the position rover. I don’t know what’s going on,” Gelinas said, per the Star-Ledger. “I switched jerseys twice today, so I have to be ready for anything, I guess.”
At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, Gelinas has the size and skating ability to make for a pretty effective forward. He got a sniff playing the rover spot (flipping between wing and defense) in Sunday’s win over Toronto and did well enough to possibly warrant another look on Thursday against Phoenix.
What’s more, the Devils are, how to put this, more “conservative” when it comes to lineup choices — so the idea of using veteran journeyman Peter Harrold on the back end, while still keeping Gelinas in the lineup, made plenty of sense.
By their standards, the Devils are already inexperienced enough on D. Another rookie, 21-year-old Jon Merrill, is averaging close to 20 minutes per game — and with the Devils right in the thick of the playoff chanse, Gelinas realizes his move up front is more a byproduct of the situation than a long-term position change.
“I’m a big guy and I’m pretty fast. If I can bring some energy, which is what I was trying to do last game as a forward, when the power play comes I do what I do,” he explained.
“It’s all about helping the team. If everyone does their job, I think we can win some games. We have a good group here. I’m really not focused about where I play. I’m just trying to help out.”