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Marek Zidlicky: Why the New Jersey Devils Brought Him Back for 2013-14

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 12:  Marek Zidlicky #2 of the New Jersey Devils in action against the Ottawa Senators at the Prudential Center on April 12, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey. The Senators defeated the Devils 2-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Joseph KuchieCorrespondent IJuly 10, 2013

The New Jersey Devils announced today that they had re-signed defenseman Marek Zidlicky to a new one-year contract to keep the 36-year-old in New Jersey for the 2013-14 season.

Zidlicky finished last season with four goals and 15 assists for New Jersey while appearing in all 48 regular-season games. He also ranked ninth in the NHL amongst defensemen with 101 shots on goal.

Despite his offensive abilities, Zidlicky did not have his best season defensively. The veteran d-man had a minus-12 and finished with 19 penalties, tied for worst on the team with David Clarkson.

With his poor 2013 season and a ton of young prospects waiting in the AHL for a chance to play, it didn't seem likely the Devils would re-sign Zidlicky this offseason. However, his $3 million deal leaves New Jersey with roughly $4 million to spend on Jacob Josefson and Adam Henrique.

There are a few reasons why I believe the Devils brought Zidlicky back for another year.

For one, the Devils don't have a viable replacement for him on the power play. Although Ilya Kovalchuk usually anchors the man advantage, Zidlicky has been the go-to player on the blue line since coming to New Jersey late last season.

GM Lou Lamoriello showed his confidence in Zidlicky on the power play, and quite frankly he is the only d-man with quality puck movement skills on this team. With New Jersey still looking for a new assistant coach to lead the power play, it will help to have an offensive forward like Zidlicky on the unit.

This move also shows that the Devils aren't comfortable with one of their other defensemen. Going into today, it looked like Zidlicky would be the odd man out. But now it seems Lou will be trading another d-man before the season begins.

Fans have buzzed about Anton Volchenkov either getting traded or bought out before next season, but those rumors have not developed. Instead, New Jersey traded Henrik Tallinder to Buffalo and re-signed Zidlicky.

It's clearly time to start Adam Larsson, and the Tallinder trade proved that, but now the Devils have the choice to go with what they have or start young defensemen like Alexander Urbom, Eric Gelinas or Damon Severson.

Trading Volchenkov would make the most sense considering his $4.25 million AAV over the next three seasons, but making a deal with an expensive 31-year-old defensemen isn't exactly easy. But the other options are team captain Bryce Salvador and Andy Greene, arguably the team's best defensemen last season.

However, the re-signing of Zidlicky could also mean the team doesn't think its young guns are ready for full-time NHL action. Keeping seven experienced d-men gives New Jersey depth and options for next season, but making another move will likely put a rookie in the lineup.

I'm personally not sold on Urbom or Gelinas, but it would be nice to see some youth in the lineup for next season. If the Devils had to trade Volchenkov to save cap space and start a rookie, I'd be all for it.

At one-year, $3 million, I think the deal is worth it. It also includes game incentives, which will make Zidlicky earn any extra money he wants to make in 2013-14.

Bring the veteran back also gives the rookies time to grow another year, or at least until the trade deadline. Ultimately this move gives New Jersey options, something that's always important in an offseason.

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