The decision to send rookie defenseman Eric Gelinas back to the minors on Friday may be a bit controversial, but Devils coach Pete DeBoer didn’t see it that way.

Gelinas, he said, needs to work on his defense to stay in the NHL.

“I think he’s a very promising young defenseman that needs to keep developing his game,” DeBoer said. “You can’t just be a big shot. One, I think he’s capable of being much more than that. And two, if you’re going to have a long career you have to be multi-dimensional and I think the other dimensions of his game are the areas he needs to work at. It’s not a secret, but it’s tough to get 20 or 25 minutes of ice at this level for a young defenseman. We’re looking at this guy long-term more than shorter term.

“He’s disappointed, obviously. Like all young guys, they want to be here. I’m sure he feels that he can help us and contribute. There’s no doubt it’s not an easy decision. Every time he’s here you’re always wrestling because you know when the puck is on his stick it has a chance to go in. At the same time, the game is played in a lot of other areas on the ice, too, and those are the areas he needs to clean up.”

DeBoer acknowledged that the Devils need offense and Gelinas can provide it, but his minus-5 rating worked against him.

“We need offense, but it’s not good if you score a goal and you give up a goal a night. You’re not providing any offense,” DeBoer explainedd. “That’s the battle with all offensive players. It’s a simple ledger. How many positives and how many negatives are there? If you’re on the right side of it, you’re hard to take out of the lineup. If you’re not, those decisions get easier.”