New Jersey Devils Need To Bring Adam Henrique Home

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 11: Adam Henrique #14 of the Anaheim Ducks looks on during the second period of a game against the St. Louis Blues at Honda Center on March 11, 2020 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 11: Adam Henrique #14 of the Anaheim Ducks looks on during the second period of a game against the St. Louis Blues at Honda Center on March 11, 2020 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

A little over three years ago, New Jersey Devils fans hearts broke everywhere. Adam Henrique was sent to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Sami Vatanen (with some picks and Blake Spears involved). Henrique solidified himself into Devils legends with scoring the series-winning overtime goal in Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers.

Henrique was drafted by the Devils and was one of the very few late Lou Lamoriello draft picks that actually made an impact on the NHL level in the last decade of his career in New Jersey. In fact, Henrique is only one of three Lamoriello picks to score over 100 career points with the Devils who were drafted between 2005 and 2014. The other two are Damon Severson and Miles Wood. Pavel Zacha was drafted while Lamoriello was still around, but this was during the weird transition from Lamoriello to Ray Shero.

The trade itself was needed. The Devils needed a top four defenseman and with the emergence of Taylor Hall during the 2017-18 season, Henrique was deemed expendable. Vatanen’s first year with the Devils wasn’t what most expected. He struggled at times, was the victim of a few own goals, and was put on a poster by Henrique himself. Vatanen did level out and the Devils were able to flip him to Carolina. Henrique on the other hand took on a leadership role and was able to have a few productive seasons. In the shortened season last year, he was four goals short of 30, and the season before that was able to finish with 42 points. But those are the stats the Devils need to look at to want Henrique back.

Putting the nostalgia of Henrique aside, the Devils should want to bring him back based on his faceoff skills alone. Henrique was a healthy scratch for the second game on Sunday night. While a healthy scratch doesn’t mean a team wants to move a player, the reason the Ducks may want to move Henrique is simple. Cap space. The Ducks have none. Henrique has 4 seasons, including this current year, left on his contact with a $5.825 million cap hit. If the Ducks were able to get Henrique’s contract off the books, that would give them some breathing room. Devils General Manager Tom Fitzgerald has said repeatedly he would love to be able to weaponize their cap space. This is a prime opportunity to.

As stated before, the Devils need Henrique’s faceoff ability. The Devils have been on the negative end of the faceoff circle, consistently losing draws in critical situations. Some leading directly to the start of the putrid penalty kill. Travis Zajac, the team’s best man on the dot is on the COVID list and no one knows when he will be able to come back. Henrique has had an over 50% winning percentage the last two seasons on face offs. The Devils also seriously need a veteran presence on the penalty kill. Henrique has scored 14 shorthanded goals and it seems as if they don’t have a threat to score a man down since Blake Coleman left.

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With the Ducks’ cap situation where it is, they could be willing to even give a sweetener to a team to take on the full contract. The Devils have more cap space than they thought they would have with the retirement of Corey Crawford. The Devils could even offer a young forward in return to make space for Henrique in the lineup. Perhaps a fresh start for Zacha will do him well. He has been the subject of a lot of ridicule based on his high draft position. He has had a rough start to the season but the Ducks may see him with someone with potential. The Devils obviously have not been able to do that for him.

Henrique does have a modified no trade clause, so it should be taken into consideration that Henrique may not want to come back to New Jersey. He is 30 years old and may not want to come back to a rebuilding team when he is still on a rebuilding team. He has never really had a team that was in the playoffs on a consistent basis. If he was willing to waive his clause to come back home, it would be a move Fitzgerald needs to make. Also another point of conversation, if Henrique does come back, it could add another wrinkle into the conversation of who should be the next captain. Just some food for thought.