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Numbers Game: Devils add Zidlicky to help power play

Scott Cullen
2/24/2012 10:05:54 PM
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The New Jersey Devils addressed a longstanding need by sending a package heavy on quantity to the Minnesota Wild.

Numbers Game examines the Devils' acquisition of Marek Zidlicky.

The Devils Get: D Marek Zidlicky.

Zidlicky, 35, had fallen out of favour in Minnesota this season, perhaps not surprisingly as the offensive-minded defenceman has yet to score a goal and has managed a career-low 0.34 points per game (14 points, 41 games) while playing 20:40 per game.

While Zidlicky was playing relatively easy minutes, in terms of strength of competition and starting more of his shifts in the offensive zone, for the Wild, he did have the best shot differential among Wild defencemen (plus-0.2 per 60 minutes of  5-on-5 play; www.behindthenet.ca).

The trouble for Zidlicky is that he's lost his effectiveness on the power play, scoring nine points with the man advantage in 87 games since the start of last season. That lack of power play production is in stark contrast to his first six NHL seasons when, from 2003-2004 through 2009-2010, he averaged 25.2 power play points per season.

Since the Devils sent Kurtis Foster to Minnesota, that leaves New Jersey with rookie Adam Larsson as their top-scoring defenceman on the power play this season, with four points, so there will be ample opportunity for Zidlicky to work on a Devils power play that is a net +20 (33 power play goals for, 13 shorthanded goals against), the worst mark in the league.

Zidlicky has another year remaining on his contract, at a cap hit of $4.0-million.

The Wild Get: D Kurtis Foster, RW Stephane Veilleux, RW Nick Palmieri, a 2013 second-round pick and a conditional 2013 third-round pick.

Foster is a 30-year-old defenceman who returns to Minnesota, where he played from 2005-2006 through the 2008-2009 season, when he suffered a fractured femur. Foster has since recovered and bounced around, from Tampa Bay to Anaheim to Edmonton to New Jersey, in the last couple seasons.

Since arriving in New Jersey earlier this season, Foster has been a useful contributor, scoring a dozen points (10 on the power play) in 28 games, but he was also minus-9 despite facing the lowest level of competition of all Devils defencemen (www.behindthenet.ca).

Foster, who comes with a $1.8-million cap hit this season, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, so he may not be anything more than a body to fill in for Zidlicky for the rest of the season.

Not unlike Foster, Veilleux is a 31-year-old who played for the Wild from 2002-2003 through 2008-2009. The grinding winger has played one game for the Devils this season, with a grand total of 4:34 of ice time, but he may provide viable depth for a Minnesota club that has dressed 26 different forwards already this season.

To keep expectations for Veilleux reasonable, note that he scored a career-high 23 points in 2008-2009, the same season that he finished with a career-low minus-17 rating.

The "prize" of the deal for Minnesota (at least among the actual players involved) is Palmieri,a 22-year-old winger who is 6-foot-3, 220 pounds and at least offers some potential that he could materialize into an NHL regular. In 78 career games, Palmieri has tallied 13 goals and 25 points, so he figures to be a bottom six forward, but if he ever sticks as a regular, that would be a coup for the Wild.

Adding a couple of draft picks to the mix (the second-round pick in the deal originally belonged to Washington., the Wild certainly got quantity -- five assets -- in exchange for a disgruntled veteran defenceman, but the Devils are clearly getting the best player in the deal, a player that is skilled enough to be a factor this season and next. If Zidlicky provides any help for the New Jersey power play, then the price paid will likely be worthwhile unless the Wild really come up big at the draft table.
 
 

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.



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