The Montreal Canadiens have invited defenceman Eric Gelinas to camp this September. Gelinas was unable to find a contract during the summer free agent period after splitting time last season between the woeful Colorado Avalanche and the equally woeful San Antonio Rampage of the AHL.
Gelinas was a second-round draft choice in 2009 taken 54th overall and in the beginning of his career it appeared the 6-4 defender with a powerful skating stride would enjoy a long and successful NHL career.
He’s 26 years of age now and struggling to find his footing in an NHL that has suddenly passed him by at an age when defencemen are usually enjoying their best years.
Recrutes’ head scout Grant McCagg notes “Gelinas was a very promising young defenceman at one time – a good skater with some offensive skills. He regressed in the last three seasons after scoring 29 points as a 23-year-old in New Jersey. As one NHL scout said to me this morning ‘he’s a very good skater with a very good shot’. The main issue with him has always been his defensive play and decision-making, but at 26, he still has time to further refine those parts of his game.”
The last time that the Canadiens offered a PTO to a player was Thomas Fleischmann who went on to have a solid season. When Montreal was out of the playoff picture in February of 2016, Fleischmann and Dale Weise were packaged to Chicago for Phillip Danault and a second-round pick.
Gelinas played four seasons in the QMJHL with three different clubs before being drafted by New Jersey. With the Habs depth at defence, the goal of Gelinas may be at this point trying to simply land a blueline spot on the Laval Rocket.
The Habs main camp opens in mid-September.