Jul 27, 2012, 6:30 PM EDT
There’s no question that Adam Henrique was one of the more pleasant surprises of 2011-12.
He had 16 goals and 51 points in 74 games to finish third among rookies in points. He averaged 18:09 minutes per game and, with Travis Zajac out for most of the regular season, served admirably as the team’s top-line center.
But how much of do his rookie numbers, particularly that points total, reflect his current abilities and how much are they the result of the amazing opportunity he was given?
For a healthy portion of the regular season, he got to play alongside Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. That’s bound to help any player and Parise in particular ended up with a goal or assist on 29 of Henrique’s 51 points. Obviously the two won’t play together next season and it remains to be seen if he’ll end up on the same line as Kovalchuk now that Zajac is healthy.
In the playoffs, when Zajac was back to getting big minutes, the Henrique-Parise-Kovalchuk line was not nearly as common. Still, Henrique held his own with five goals and 13 points in 24 games to go along with a team-leading plus-12 rating. On top of that, he was a clutch performer, scoring three game-winning goals, including the overtime series winner in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals versus the New York Rangers.
So Henrique has shown that he’s more than just the guy who was able to develop some good on-ice chemistry with superstars. Even if he doesn’t end up playing on the top line next season, he should still be able to provide the Devils with some secondary scoring. Which they’ll certainly need now that Parise’s gone.
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