Rookie Devil on Fire

By pbadmin
Ever quietly and ever patiently, Patrik Elias of the New Jersey Devils
is making a strong case for himself as this year’s Calder favorite. The
November Rookie of the Month’s dominant and complete game has earned him
praise from Coach Lemaire, which isn’t easily come by, as well as from
critics around the league. Elias brings youth, speed, passion and loads
of offensive talent that was so desperately needed in NJ, and has
sparked his team to tops in the East in standings and goal scoring. The
young Czech has found success at every level and his rookie season in
the NHL should be no different.

Elias was drafted 51st overall by the Devils at the 1994 Entry Draft
after averaging a point per game with Kladno in his native Czech
Republic. The Devils, in serious need of some scoring punch, where quick
to gamble on the smallish(6’, 175) winger with a nose for the net. Good
thing they did. Patrik was sent to Albany for the ‘95/96 season, where
he had no problem adjusting to the North American style of hockey. He
netted 27 goals and added 36 assists to finish with 63 points in 74
games, along with 83 PIMs. Elias stayed on with the River Rats for the
next season and finished second in team scoring at 57-24-43-67-76
despite missing 22 games to play for the parent club. Patrik shined for
the Devils in the playoffs, in 8 games notching 2 goals and 3 assists as
he made a name for himself as a young rising star, as well as earning a
roster spot for this season.

A perfect fit on the rough and tumble Jersey team, Patrik Elias plays
a rugged game with finesse skills. Perhaps most notable about the
21-year-old is his hockey sense, maturity and an understanding of the
game uncharacteristic of a rookie. Elias sees the ice with almost 360°
vision that allows him to play his style of game regardless of the
competition. With top level offensive skills, Patrik has a nose for the
net and is a wizard with the puck. He consistently in the top 3 in
rookie scoring and is currently 12-7-19-10 in 31 games. He is also a
beautiful skater, fleet-footed, fluid and shifty, a style complemented
by his first-rate moves. However, Elias surprises many with the gritty
side of his game. He’s bulked up to a healthy 6’, 198 lbs. and now mucks
and grinds with the best of them. Elias throws his weight around,
finishes his checks and is hard to knock down. He is not at all scared
about going to the net and frequents high-traffic areas. Elias doesn’t
take stupid penalties and has earned almost complete trust from his
team, as evident in the his time on the special teams. His strong
defensive play and +12 is best among rookies, not to mention more worthy
of the Norris this year than Brian Leetch is. Intense and determined,
Elias is a valuable asset on the ice and in the locker room and is a
possible future captain.

So far, Elias has done nothing but impress. His complete game is
seemingly flawless and, so far, has made some very strong competition
for the Calder Trophy. Patrik is one of the bright, young stars of the
game that helps make hockey fans forget they’re watching the
Devils–almost.

THE INTANGIBLES

Patrik Elias, LW/RW

6-0, 198, 4/13/76, Trebic, CZE

-drafted 51st overall at ‘94 Entry Draft by NJ

–Nov. NHL Rookie of the Month

‘95/96 Albany (AHL) 74-27-36-63-83

‘96/97 Albany (AHL) 54-24-43-67-76

New Jersey (NHL) 17-2-3-5-2

NHL playoffs 8-2-3-5-4

‘97/98 New Jersey (NHL) 31-12-7-19-10, +12

Strengths: complete game…hockey sense…character…vision…skating

Weaknesses: not overly big, but is that a weakness?

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