Let me preface this article by saying that I am a proud alumnus of The Ohio State University. Writing about a former Michigan Wolverine hockey player isn’t what I expected to do for my second post. However, every time I am at the Pepsi Center I find myself watching T.J. Hensick skate. He’s a talented hockey player with natural abilities and above average speed and vision. I think it’s about time Coach Tony Granato gives this kid more playing time.
Hensick’s NHL debut came just last season. After four years and an incredible 222 points at the University of Michigan, it was a given that T.J. Hensick would make his mark in the National Hockey League. He started the 2007-2008 season skating for Colorado’s AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters. In 50 games Hensick put up 45 points. It was time to unleash the 5-10 Center. The problem in Colorado was that they were loaded up the middle. Joe Sakic, Paul Stastny, Tyler Arnason, Jaroslav Hlinka and Cody McCormick continued to play well enough that they couldn’t be left out of the lineup. Hensisk was sent back to Lake Erie and recalled by the Avalanche a total of 5 times last season. He still managed to score 6 goals and 5 assists in parts of 31 games.
Heading into 2008-2009 it was expected that T.J. Hensick would Center the 3rd line behind Joe Sakic and Paul Stastny. This hasn’t consistently been the case. Even with both Sakic and Stastny out of the lineup due to injury, Hensick is listed behind the likes of Tyler Arnason, Ben Guite, and Cody McCormick. These are players that have much less scoring ability and quickness than the shifty Hensick. For reasons unknown to the average fan, Coach Tony Granato doesn’t put T.J. on the ice too often. He has dressed in 43 of 60 games so far this season but averages about 12 minutes of ice time per night. He has 18 points on the year but one would have to believe those figures would be much more significant if he had more chances on the Power Play or had more shifts with skilled players around him. Only time will tell what type of player he can become in the NHL.
If you break down the numbers, T.J Hensick nearly puts up nearly a point a game in which he sees over 10 minutes of ice time. His playmaking ability is above average but his playing time is below where it needs to be for a player with so much talent. Hensick is equally effective in his own zone as he is creating chances for his teammates on the offensive end. I’m not certain what possibly goes on in the dressing room or why Coach Granato feels T.J isn’t ready to see his fair share of ice time. What I do know is that this former Buckeye really enjoys watching this former Wolverine and hopes to see much more of him as the season comes to a close.