Filing for arbitration allows restricted free agents to give their teams an incentive to get a deal done sooner rather than later. It's been common for the last few years and Eric Gelinas becomes the latest to have used it for that purpose. Tom Gulitti at Fire & Ice reported this afternoon that Gelinas and the New Jersey Devils agreed to a two year contract worth $3.15 million. He'll get $1.5 million next season and $1.65 in 2016-17. There will be no arbitration hearing. As Gelinas stated per Gulitti's post, it's a "nice little bridge deal." I would have to agree.
Earlier this month, I guessed as to what Gelinas' next contract should be, using his career, points of reference, and the contract of unqualified RFA-turned-UFA John Moore. My main conclusion was a two year deal worth $3.6 million. Gelinas got less than that, so I certainly cannot complain about that. It's still very much a salary worthy for a third-pairing defenseman. The short term allows him to cash in should he progress as some Devils fans hope. Two years makes sense in that he'll still be a restricted free agent when it ends.
By that time, it'll be clear whether he's worth keeping around long-term or better off somewhere else. Every season is important in its own way, but 2015-16 is especially important for Gelinas. He's now 24, he's entering his third full season of NHL hockey, and it'll be a turning point in his career. While defenders may take a bit longer to develop, usually there are displays of signs of things to come from a young player regardless of position. With Gelinas, he's got an awesome shot, he's got good production rates, and that's really it in terms of what stands out about him. He's an asset when he's able to use it, everything else isn't superlative. Should he actually improve in his positioning, defensive decision making, passing, and reactions, then that bodes well for the future. If not, it'll soon be time to accept that he is what he is. A player with those sorts of questions should get a short-term, bridge deal. Ray Shero, Gelinas, and Gelinas' agent appropriately agreed on one.
Related to that, check out this Tweet of Gelinas' rolling SAT% (a.k.a. Corsi For%) in his career by Muneeb Alam. He's not a black hole of possession, though he's got some ugly valleys.
Gelinas pic.twitter.com/QMjw1OVXvl— Muneeb Alam (@muneebalamcu) July 14, 2015
John Hynes could do him a solid and not pair him with whoever cratered his possession at around Game #100. Based on Gelinas' With Or Without You chart at Hockey Analysis, I wonder if that was Peter Harrold (who's gone) or Jon Merrill (who's here). Fortunately, there will likely be changes. On paper, I would expect Moore to start alongside Gelinas. While it's an unknown pairing, it has the potential of being better than whatever that was last season. Alternatively, there will be defenders competing for their part of depth chart in camp, someone else could come in and turn out to play well alongside Gelinas. That said, the poor possession rates are partially on Gelinas to help correct. Improvements to his performances in his own end should lead to improvements in Corsi For% and more. Perhaps even more opportunities to hit the opposing goalie (or, ideally, the net) with The Truth.
Provided he isn't moved before it ends, we will see The Truth for another two years. Now we just have to wait on Adam Larsson getting signed ahead of his arbitration date. He might be getting a long-term deal per this post by Gulitti. We'll see. As far as today's signing, I think it's a good deal for the Devils and for Gelinas. Now I want to read what you think. What do you think about Gelinas' new deal? Will this bridge deal lead to something more lucrative or something more modest? What do you expect out of Gelinas for next season? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Gelinas' new bridge deal in the comments. Thank you for reading.