Although currently Bryce Salvador is still captain of the New Jersey Devils, it is beyond a strong possibility that when the next NHL season starts he will not be. The 39-year-old defenseman will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and after playing in the Devils’ first 15 games last season he missed the final 67 with bulging disc in his back and damage to his L3 nerve that caused pain his right hip and down his right leg. He missed a total of 118 games over the past three seasons, and although he was out of the lineup frequently he was still a respected voice among the players, despite what some fans believe.
So assuming Salvador is out of the picture there will likely be a new captain in New Jersey to go along with a new coach (John Hynes) and a new GM (Ray Shero); makes sense right? Let’s also assume that the next captain is already on the roster and if that is indeed the case that only leaves three true candidates (in our estimation of course) excluding Patrik Elias (a former captain that has alluded to not wanting the position anymore). The new regime, starting with Shero stated the team will be based on three words going forward: “fast, attacking and supportive.” When they are ready, the captain will pop out at the right moment, not before or after.
He will only be entering his second season with the Devils but the 32-year-old not only led the team in goals (27) but he became a vocal leader amongst the players and, like a true Devil, he always mentioned team first when asked about individual accomplishments by the media. He is also signed through the next four years and could be just the type of “attacking” players that the new regime will be looking to build around. One thing very noticeable about Cammalleri after watching him game-in and game-out for a full season (and about 40 games from the press box) is that he is very similar to what former New Jersey captain Zach Parise was when he was a Devil — he plays tenacious in all areas of the ice and on both sides of special teams which means he is always involved in the game.
Like Cammalleri, Henrique is under contract the next four years and in some ways is considered one of the faces of the franchise nowadays. When he’s been at his best, his style is most definitely an attacking player that puts pressure on his opponents at both ends of the ice. If management decides to give the 25-year-old the captaincy it would likely cement that he and Cory Schneider have become the co-faces of the franchise going forward.
Captaincy or not, Henrique will always have two important moments in franchise history:
The longest tenured Devil not named Patrik Elias and one of the most durable players on the team; Greene is a strong candidate to succeed Salvador wearing the C on his jersey. He has been a quiet leader on the blue line as they transition to a younger core and has played top pair minutes for the last four seasons, playing against the opposition’s best players night-in and night-out. Like the previous two players mentioned he plays in all situations (obvious since he is the most experienced/healthy d-man on the roster) and he has been a go-to guy for media on a nightly basis, win or lose.
Who do you think will be named the eleventh captain in New Jersey Devils history? Will it be one of the above three players mentioned? Let us know in the comments section below.
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.