The Anaheim Ducks have announced the signing center Adam Henrique to a five-year contract extension. The deal carries an average annual value (AAV) of $5.825 million per year.
UNCLE RICO IS STAYING IN ANAHEIM!
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) July 16, 2018
The 2018-19 season will mark the final year of a contract that pays Henrique an average of $4 million per season. His new five-year pact will kick in beginning with the 2019-20 season.
Ducks Lock Up Henrique
Henrique, who came over this past season from the New Jersey Devils in the first half of the season in a trade that involved defenseman Sami Vatanen being shipped out of Anaheim, fit in with the Ducks seamlessly upon his arrival. He provided Anaheim with solid center depth, which was especially key with Ryan Kesler clearly not operating at 100 percent at any point during the season.
The Ontario native scored 20 goals in just 57 regular-season games with the Ducks following the trade while adding 16 helpers. That equates to 29 goals over a full 82 games, which is some scoring the Ducks would welcome for the next six seasons. Between the Devils and the Ducks, Henrique reached 50 points in 81 games in 2017-18 (24 goals and 26 assists). It was the third time in his seven-year career that he hit that threshold.
Henrique formed noticeable chemistry in the latter half of the season centering a line with Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase on his wings. The trio managed a 5-on-5 Corsi-for percentage of 52.99 percent on a team that posted a mark of just 48.62 percent in total. They also managed an incredible goals-for percentage of 77.27 percent at 5-on-5. While a number that high certainly has some luck involved, Henrique’s line was on the positive side of the expected goals for (xGF%) metric, at 51.21 percent.
Beyond the noticeable on-ice chemistry Henrique had with his linemates, the pivot pointed to an overall chemistry and comfort level he felt as soon as he arrived in Anaheim.
“I felt like I had been there for years with some of those guys,” Henrique said in a statement released by the Ducks. “It’s one of the reasons I wanted to stay. I’m excited it’s done, I’m excited for what’s ahead and I’m excited for hopefully bringing a Cup back there.”
Implications for Ducks
As solid of a player as Henrique is and as well as he fit in with the Ducks, the terms of his contract do bring up some questions.
First of all, Henrique is 28 years old now, which means he will be 34 by the time the contract expires. It’s quite reasonable to question if he can keep up this level of production throughout the full duration of the contract. After all, Anaheim has already seen diminishing returns on the mega-contracts of 33-year-olds Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler. On a team that needs to get younger and faster, committing to Henrique for such a long-term does not totally jibe with that vision.
Furthermore, Henrique’s AAV of over $5.8 million further complicates the Ducks’ salary cap situation for next year. His raise of nearly $2 million per year seems to increase the likelihood that an important role player like Jakob Silfverberg will eventually leave town, either via trade or unrestricted free agency next summer.
Henrique was always going to get a raise from his $4-million AAV, but his new figure is arguably a bit high. Matt Cane of Hockey Graphs, for instance, has a model that saw Henrique making $5.5 million per season on a five-year deal.
Bringing back a good player like Henrique, who thrived immediately in Anaheim, makes sense. The number of years and amount of dollars involved, though, could handcuff the Ducks somewhat in their effort to gradually remake their team.
In any event, Henrique should in the short term be a 20-plus-goal player for the Ducks and add value like he did in 2017-18. Beyond that, his role will only be more important if Kesler misses part or all of the 2018-19 season.