Colorado Avalanche Should Give Gelinas Another Chance

The Colorado Avalanche should give young defenseman Eric Gelinas another chance to prove his worth because he has more upside in the long run.

In the new system, the Colorado Avalanche keep just seven defensemen on the roster. Now that Gabriel Bourque has been sent to San Antonio, the team also has just 13 forwards in the mix.

The usual scratch from the defensive corps has been Eric Gelinas. He was a trade deadline pick-up last season. Unfortunately, he played just six games last season before an injury took him out for the rest of the year.

The big defenseman — 6-foot-4, 215 pounds — worked very hard over the summer:

He also came in on fire for training camp and the preseason.

For some reason, the Colorado Avalanche then chose to make him the odd man out. That means he cooled his heels on the sidelines for four games before the Columbus Blue Jackets’ buyout, Fedor Tyutin, suffered his yearly injury.

Now, about this time you’re going to start howling about how badly Gelinas played in the four games he got with Tyutin injured. I’m going to counter with two points.

The first, according to my stats man, Mark K., he wasn’t that bad:

The majority of his starts (64.7%) have been in the offensive zone, so that skews his numbers in a positive direction. That said, from a raw CF% perspective, he’s currently sitting at 53.2%, which, not accounting for anything else, is good for 5th on the team.

Historically, he’s posted solid possession numbers over his career, sitting above or very near the 50% CF% marker for all of it, with the exception of his time with the Avs last year. Again, though, most of his starts have been in the offensive end, which likely helps his Corsi-Against numbers.

I know that’s not exactly glowing praise, but it indicates a young man who’s decent and not a defensive liability.

That brings me to point number two — Gelinas is young and still learning. He spent his career before last season with the New Jersey Devils, and they didn’t use him much.

What’s more, since Gelinas hasn’t really gotten any time until Tyutin got injured, he hasn’t been able to develop chemistry with a partner. When it comes to defensive pairings, chemistry is so important.

According to the Colorado Avalanche, Tyutin is back:

And that likely means Gelinas is out.

However, we shouldn’t let him ride the pine too long. He’s big, young and gritty. While I know that’s not the favored profile for the Colorado Avalanche anymore, it’s still a boon for an NHL defenseman. What’s more, Gelinas is a fast skater with a cannon of a shot from the point.

The big complaint about Gelinas is that he makes bad decisions. However, he hasn’t had a lot of development time. He needs good playing time with his team to develop into the great defenseman he has a chance to be.

Over the long stretch, the 25-year-old Eric Gelinas has more upside than the 33-year-old Fedor Tyutin. The Colorado Avalanche certainly have the chance to get more mileage out of him anyway.

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