As we approach the NHL’s March 3 trade deadline, we’re taking a look at several players on the Anaheim Ducks that could be on the move. They are expected to be a big seller at this year’s deadline. With one of the worst records in the league and a handful of expiring contracts, the Ducks are likely to repeat last year’s process of trading veterans for a haul of picks and prospects. One of those veterans who could be on the move this year is Adam Henrique.
Henrique was acquired by the Ducks in November 2017 from the New Jersey Devils. At the time of the trade, Anaheim saw themselves as contenders, having just made the Western Conference Final the year before. Injuries to Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf hamstrung the Ducks’ center depth, so they brought in the 27-year-old to stabilize the roster. In 364 games with the Ducks, he has 215 points (114 goals, 101 assists). Now 33 years old, Henrique is still scoring at a high level. Despite playing on a scoring-deficient Ducks team, his 2.5 points per 60 minutes last season was the highest mark of his career. His productive play and two-way effort have made him a fan favorite in Anaheim.
Henrique has one more year remaining on his contract, which would suggest the Ducks could see a return greater than that of a pure rental. Two seasons ago, there was a decent amount of frustration levied at then-general manager (GM) Bob Murray for failing to trade Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell, and Josh Manson while they had additional term on their contracts. New GM Pat Verbeek dealt all three players at last year’s deadline as rentals but for likely less than what could have been received a year prior. Based on last year’s trade deadline, Verbeek will try to get the most value possible out of any asset, so let’s take a look at three teams who could be potential trade partners for Adam Henrique.
New York Islanders
An Eastern Conference bubble team, the New York Islanders kicked off the deadline season by making a huge splash by acquiring Bo Horvat from the Vancouver Canucks. The Islanders have as many points in the standings as the Pittsburgh Penguins (59), but four games in hand for the Penguins (as well as four games in hand for the 56-point Buffalo Sabres) makes scoreboard-watching futile. If the Islanders want to make good on the Horvat trade, they need to continue to improve their roster.
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Henrique was drafted — and eventually extended — by Lamoriello in New Jersey. We’ll talk about the Devils in a moment, but the argument for familiarity between a team and a player can be extended to include GMs, especially for retread-enthusiasts like Lamoriello. Henrique would be a versatile top-six option for the Islanders. He could fit onto the top line with Horvat and Mat Barzal, but he could also serve as an upgrade over Brock Nelson as the second-line center.
The team closest in the standings to the Islanders, the Penguins, could also find themselves in the market for Henrique. Pittsburgh is in the business of maximizing the final years of the Sidney Crosby era. With contract extensions going out to Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Rickard Rakell, and Bryan Rust over the summer, the team is in win-now mode and should be looking to upgrade their roster over the next month.
Henrique could reasonably slot in as the left wing on the second line over Jason Zucker. He could also be moved to the third line if the Penguins can manage to find a team to take on Jeff Carter’s contract (he has one year left at $3.125 million). Anaheim is operating nowhere near the salary cap ceiling, which gives them the opportunity to include Carter in the deal if Pittsburgh is willing to offer more than they otherwise would for Henrique.
New Jersey Devils
Henrique returning to New Jersey is a move that will tug on the heartstrings, but it also makes sense on paper. The Devils are a team on the upswing. They’re in tremendous shape to make the postseason for the first time in five years, but they aren’t without their flaws. With budding superstar Jack Hughes out of the lineup and week-to-week, pressure will be on GM Tom Fitzgerald to stabilize the roster before ceding any ground in the standings. Henrique would instantly slot into the top six as a center or on the wing. Even when Hughes returns, Henrique can play on his line to take faceoffs, which would allow Erik Haula to play on the third line to increase scoring depth.
Henrique was drafted by New Jersey in 2008 and spent his first seven seasons with the club. In the 2012 Eastern Conference Final, he scored the series-clinching goal in overtime to push the Devils past their rival New York Rangers and into the Stanley Cup Final. That year was the deepest the Devils would go while he was on the team. In 2017, he was traded to a Ducks team desperately trying to keep their championship window alive. After getting swept by the San Jose Sharks in the 2018 postseason, Anaheim has yet to return to the playoffs. Unfortunately, Henrique was essentially traded from a rebuilding team to another team just about to bottom out. With an excellent young core in New Jersey, Henrique would have the chance to play out the last two years of his contract on a contender, with the additional sentiment of returning to the team that drafted him.
With three weeks until the trade deadline, the Ducks can afford to remain patient with their assets. Recent trades for Horvat and Vladimir Tarasenko have set the rental market, but they also put pressure on teams sitting on the fence between buying and selling. Henrique may not be the biggest name on the trading block, but a competitive market and an extra year of term may fetch a significant return for Anaheim.