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Lamoriello on young defensemen: ‘We’re not going to rush them’

Feb 9, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

Eric Gelinas Getty Images

The New Jersey Devils have an interesting problem on the blue line. They have a glut of young talent itching to stay in the NHL.

Defensemen Eric Gelinas, Jon Merrill, and Adam Larsson are all players the Devils value highly, yet Merrill is the only one currently on the New Jersey roster as older veterans hold down the fort.

So what gives? GM Lou Lamoriello isn’t looking to speed up their development as Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice shares.

“Adam Larsson, Gelly and Merrill, they’re all going to be in the NHL. They’ll all be here,” Lamoriello said. “We’re not going to rush them. We’re going to make sure – if they have to go up, if they have to go down – they get their complete game together so that it’s on a consistent basis. It’s nothing personal with them. It’s nothing that they’re doing wrong. It’s the experience that’s needed. Different styles of play need different experiences. We’ll do everything we can so once they’re here they’ll be a solid contributing factor and play the minutes that are necessary to play.”

A big thing to keep in mind here: Gelinas and Merrill are 22 years old and Larsson is 21. It’s not like they’re rotting on the vine in the AHL at Albany. With veteran players like Anton Volchenkov, Marek Zidlicky, and captain Bryce Salvador locked in place, there’s not much room for the younger guys.

They’ll eventually have their time in the sun, it’s just not going to be right away. Sorry Devils fans, Lou’s orders.

  1. 950003cups - Feb 9, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    Translation = I screwed up giving those contracts out to Salvador and Volchenkov . So I have to use this BS excuse to cover my own blunders with my new bosses. I hope the majority of you are stupid enough to believe that malarkey

  2. lowenni - Feb 9, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    What happened to Larsson? Is he in the AHL? Haven’t heard anything about him or seen any highlights of him. Any devils fans have any thoughts on where/how he’s playing? Just curious

    • martysbetter - Feb 9, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      He’s in the AHL and has 9 pts in 13 games. He’s still raw, but that’s to be expected for a 21 year old defensemen. He’s had flashes of his potential but needs more confidence and an edge to his game.

      People are quick to put the ‘bust’ tag on him but he’s only 21. The problem is we’re fighting for a playoff spot so there isn’t much room for mistakes, coupled with the fact that we have serious goal scoring issues – it isn’t the best environment to allow young dmen to make mistakes and grow.

      All three of these guys will be anchors on our blue line for years to come, I’m not worried about it – coaches know better than fans.

      • 950003cups - Feb 9, 2014 at 2:58 PM

        You’re making a miscalculation in judgement. These coaches are not doing their jobs at all. If Eric Gelinas, who has already spent two full years in Albany, needs to improve defensively, isn’t that what coaches are for? What were they doing for two years?

    • lowenni - Feb 9, 2014 at 1:12 PM

      Thanks for the insight. I always thought that he was rushed into the league way too early despite his potential. I think a year in the AHL will do him good, and it looks like it is based on the production you mentioned. He’s very talented and I would be surprised if he doesn’t supplant either Volchenkov, Salvador, Harrold, or someone on the Devils’ blueline by next year.

  3. bayafan - Feb 9, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    @950003cups. My thoughts exactly.

  4. crazemastercraze - Feb 9, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    If only he could trade those veterans for some real goal scorers, not a collection of first round forward busts!

    • kegmen7 - Feb 9, 2014 at 8:39 PM

      Id be happy if we could move those veterans for a used puck bag.

      • 950003cups - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:11 AM

        They don’t make puck bags that cheap.

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