Adam Henrique Is The NJ Devils’ Top Line Center


There is a lot of questioning about whether the New Jersey Devils have a true top line center. Some people say they don’t have one. I beg to differ; I absolutely think they do and his name is Adam Henrique. Travis Zajac is paid like the number one center, but it’s clear that he isn’t. Zajac is a good player, but his offense is way too inconsistent to be labeled the number one center any longer. Travis is dynamite on faceoffs and strong defensively, but to be a number one center you need to create and sustain offense. Adam Henrique does that better than any center the Devils have. He’s second on the team in both goals (10) behind Mike Cammalleri’s twelve and points (21) behind Jaromir Jagr’s 22.

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Is Henrique one of the top centers in the league? Not yet; remember he’s only 24 and getting better every season. Not only is his skill improving, but he’s becoming more of a leader. Henrique is the kind of guy that isn’t afraid to mix it up with his opponents when the time is right. He won’t shy away from confrontation and is one of the few guys on the team that will stick up for his teammates. It’s fair to say that he should be the next captain of the Devils. I would love to see (insert head coach here) give Henrique the ‘C’ next season and let him flourish with it.

Adam Henrique is the team’s best overall forward because he can play in all situations and dominate them. At even strength, Henrique is a terrific two-way center who also has ability to shift over to wing. I personally think he should just stay at center and grow there, but there’s nothing wrong with being versatile. Henrique is always one of the first forwards out on the penalty kill where he does a good job shutting down the opposition and even creating goals down a man – nine SH goals and six SH assists in just four seasons. Then there’s the power play where, for some reason he doesn’t always see time, but still manages to produce goals (four this year) and assists (five). Henrique saw just :27 of PP time last night against Montreal, which is far too low for a player of his caliber.

Dec 4, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New Jersey Devils center Adam Henrique (14) celebrates his goal in the third period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Devils beat the Maple Leafs 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

That brings me to my biggest gripe regarding the Devils’ top forward Adam Henrique. No matter if it’s Peter DeBoer, Adam Oates, Lou Lamoriello or the Easter Bunny… somehow Henrique usually ends up on the third line. Early in the season DeBoer had Zajac centering line one and Patrik Elias centering line two, which was okay for the moment because all the lines were deep and producing. Then injuries happened, Scott Gomez was signed, and he found himself on the top line with Zajac bumped down to the second line. Henrique does see occasional action on the top line, but it’s usually at wing.

Last night, Adam Henrique was skating on the third line with Michael Ryder – who scored his first goal in two months – and Dainius Zubrus. I don’t understand the logic behind putting your best center on the third line with guys who struggle to produce. I would love to see Henrique center Mike Cammalleri and Jaromir Jagr. The team’s three best forwards together would be a great way to spark some much needed offense into the team. Adam Henrique is the Devils’ top line center, problem is he’s not used like it.

Next: NJ Devils 2014 Year in Review