Player Previews: Part 5 – Patrik Elias

By Dave Turner 

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#26- Patrik Elias- Forward

2013 Season Stats 

Games played: 48

Average Time on ice: 18:43

Points: 36 (14g, 22a)

Plus/Minus: plus-2

Analysis:

Season Grade: B+

When Patrik Elias resigned with the Devils for 3 years at 5.5 million per season, it all but guaranteed that the most prolific offensive player in Devils history will finish his career in red and black. The multi-talented Czech had another solid season in 2013, which should at the very least bode well for 2013-2014.

Elias finished with 36 points in 48 games, which gave him an average of 0.75 points per game. Though it wasn’t nearly as strong as his 0.96 ppg in 2011-2012, it was right on par with his 2010-2011 total, which was just a shade higher at 0.77 ppg.

Number 26 finished with 14 power-play points (5g,9a) in 2013, despite the Devils’ struggles on the man-advantage. New Jersey managed just 28 power-play goals last season. To do the simple math, it means that Elias either scored or assisted on half of the Devils PP goals. He finished second only to David Clarkson (6) in power-play goals, and tied Ilya Kovalchuk for the team lead in power play points with 14.

Statistically speaking, you can make the case that Elias was as important to the power-play as Kovalchuk was. With the departures of both the Russian winger and Clarkson, as well as the departure of power-play coach Matt Shaw, the 2013-2014 power play is going to be drastically different. The result? Patrik Elias will be as important as ever to the success on the man-advantage.

I really didn’t see much of a fall-off in play from Elias last year. I think his numbers reflect the kind of team they had last season, and if you calculate Elias’s scoring numbers during an 82-game season, it comes out to roughly 62 points. If he’s able to get close to that number, it would be a successful campaign for the 37-year-old.

(source: Wiki Commons)

(source: Wiki Commons)

2014 Preview

Elias is the kind of player who has the ability to continue playing at a high level at an advanced age. He possesses the hockey IQ and passing ability to make up for what is a natural decrease in speed as he continues to age.

That being said, there is a wall that every athlete will hit at some point in their career if they continue to play long enough. I don’t think this is the year for Elias. I believe that he has two seasons left where he can push the 50+ point mark.

The 2013-2014 Devils are going to be a team that will struggle to score at times, there’s no denying that. They’re going to have to be opportunistic, and take advantage of  every scoring chance that they get. It’s completely possible that Elias will be the Devils leading scorer this season. He is going to be counted on for his leadership off the ice, and he’ll have to be a leader on the ice as well.

Expect Elias to play with Jagr at some point this season, whether it’s on the power play, or on the same line. Though the two are almost old enough to be Reid Boucher’s father,  when you couple two hall-of-fame caliber players who have played together on the international level, that is definitely a recipe for success. Jagr and Elias will elevate each other’s game.

The only knock on Elias’s game is that he seems to disappear sometimes, especially when the team is struggling. He doesn’t quite have the ability to be the guy to break a team out of a slump like elite-level players can do. During the Devils 10-game losing streak last season, Elias managed only two points during that stretch. The bottom line is that he needs players around him, and with the acquisitions of Jagr, Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder, that should certainly help Elias avoid any extended struggles.

Projections: 

It would be foolish to think that Elias could duplicate his numbers of 2011-2012, there’s just not enough offensive firepower on this team. On the contrary, He will have enough ice time, both at evens and on the power-play to have strong numbers. I would expect an increase in ice time from him, as the Devils will need to fill the minutes that Kovalchuk logged. That means more power-play time and more penalty-kill minutes as well.

I’m going to go with 22 goals and 31 assists for Elias for a total of 63 points. That number might seem a little bit lofty, but the career-Devil still has the ability to play at a high level. If he hits that mark, it wouldn’t surprise me if he ended up as the team leader in points, just as he did last season. I’d expect his ice time to increase to over 20 minutes per game, which will certainly be a heavy burden for Elias, who turns 38 in April.

Overall, it is completely fair to expect a strong season from the Czech forward. His success will be directly tied to the overall success of the team. If there is anyone on this roster who can rise to the challenge in the wake of the key departures this offseason, it’s Elias.

In case you missed them, here are the first four parts of the series: 

Part 1: Andy Greene

Part 2: Michael Ryder

Part 3: Cory Schneider

Part 4: Andrei Loktionov