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One Year Later: The Adam Henrique Trade
By Thomas Harrington
One year ago today, the Anaheim Ducks traded Sami Vatanen and a conditional third round pick to the New Jersey Devils for Adam Henrique, Joseph Blandisi, and a 2018 third round draft pick. With the third round pick the Ducks acquired from the Devils, Anaheim selected winger Blake McLaughlin. The conditional pick that the Ducks gave up were as follows: if Henrique re-signed in Anaheim before the Ducks picked in the third round of the 2019 draft, then the Devils would get a 2019 third round pick; if Henrique re-signed in Anaheim after the Ducks picked in the third round of the 2019 draft, then the Devils would get a 2020 third round pick; and if Henrique was not re-signed, then the Devils would not get a third-round pick.
This past July, Henrique signed a five year, $29.1 million deal to remain with the Ducks, giving New Jersey Anaheim’s 2019 third round draft pick. Vatanen and Henrique were obviously the main parts of this deal, but Anaheim also got a couple of nice, smaller pieces, while it remains to be seen who New Jersey selects at the upcoming NHL Draft.
The Ducks drafted Vatanen in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He spent the next several years in Finland becoming an offensive threat from the point and finally made his NHL debut in the 2012-2013 season. He only played in eight games and spent most of the year in the AHL, where he scored 45 points in 62 games. In his second season in North America, things were reversed as he only played in eight AHL games but played in 48 games with the Ducks, scoring 21 points. He followed that up with 37 and 38 points over his next two seasons, but his production fell in the 2016-2017 season, as he scored just 24 points. Before being traded last year, he played in 15 games with the Ducks and scored one goal and four points. Like many Anaheim players over the last two seasons, he spent some time on IR to start last season.
The Devils selected Henrique in the third round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He played in two seasons of junior hockey after being drafted before turning pro in the 2010-2011 season. He got in one NHL game but spent the majority of his time in the AHL where he scored 50 points in 73 games. Similar to Vatanen, Henrique only played a few AHL games in his second professional season and spent most of the year in the NHL, scoring 51 points in 74 games. Other than the lockout-shortened year, he scored between 40 and 50 points every year that he was in New Jersey, pretty good consistency from him. Before being traded last year, Henrique had scored four goals and 14 points in 24 games.
At the time of this trade, the Ducks were in desperate need of offensive help. Similar to this season, Anaheim was going through a rash of injuries. Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Patrick Eaves, and Ondrej Kase were out, while Derek Grant was the number one center. Things were dire and Anaheim had a number of good, young defensemen. The Ducks had Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Brandon Montour, and Vatanen; it was time to deal one of them away for offensive help. The Devils were in need of defense, and a powerplay quarterback with a right-handed shot was just what they were looking for.
Upon joining the Ducks, Henrique instantly had an impact, scoring three goals and six points in his first five games as a Duck. While he’s not a top line center, he fits nicely on a second or third line. Overall, he scored 20 goals and 36 points in 57 games in an Anaheim sweater to finish off the season. Despite being a midseason acquisition, his 20 goals were tied for second on the team, while his 36 points were seventh. This season, Henrique isn’t off to a great start, but few on the Ducks are. Still, he’s tied for the team lead in goals with six and is third in points on the team with 14.
Vatanen had a slower start to his career in New Jersey, as it took him nine games to get his first point with his new team and 12 games to get his first goal. His offense picked up from there, and he scored 28 points in 57 games, more than his final full season in Anaheim. His 28 points ended up second among defensemen on New Jersey, and seventh overall on the team. 11 of those points came on the man advantage, fourth on the Devils. This season, he’s scored one goal and 10 points in 20 games.
Blandisi will likely be a minor league player for the majority of his career, but he’s been a valuable player for the Gulls. He dealt with some injuries after Anaheim acquired him, but he played in 27 games with San Diego and scored five goals and 15 points. He also played in three games with the Ducks and went scoreless. This season, he’s played in 12 games with the Gulls and has one goal and seven points, while also playing three games with the Ducks and going scoreless. Even if he doesn’t become an NHL regular, Anaheim does want San Diego to succeed, and getting an extra piece like Blandisi for the Gulls was a nice bonus.
McLaughlin has just started his NCAA career at the University of Minnesota. So far, he’s played in eight games and recorded five assists. Not stellar numbers, but not bad ones for a freshman. Before playing in the NCAA, McLaughlin played in the USHL and scored 52 points in 54 games in his final season with the Chicago Steel. The Ducks have let their college players develop in the NCAA for several years in recent history, and I believe that McLaughlin will have a similar career path.
A year later, both teams are relatively happy with what they got. The Ducks were in desperate need of offensive help, and Henrique filled that void nicely. While it hurt to lose such a valuable asset like Vatanen, the Ducks had an excess of defense to give up, and having Henrique re-signed to a long-term deal makes the loss of Vatanen even easier to deal with. While Henrique’s cap hit is on the high side, his consistent effort and point totals should make him worth it over the length of the deal, especially if the cap continues to rise. When healthy, Anaheim’s top four is Fowler, Lindholm, Manson, and Montour, a very solid group, though they have all struggled at times this season.
The Ducks also still have some up and coming defensemen, like Jacob Larsson and Josh Mahura. Both are solid prospects who have played in some games for the Ducks this season and could be part of the team’s long-term future. For the Devils, when they drafted Nico Hischier first overall of the 2017 NHL Draft, it meant that they’d likely be looking to deal a center. Both teams dealt from a position of strength and filled a position of need. For now, neither team can really be called a clear winner, though each team’s third-round pick could tip the balance in the future. McLaughlin is an exciting young player, but he’s several years away from the NHL and it remains to be seen who New Jersey will select with their pick. Overall, this was a good deal for both Anaheim and New Jersey. Vatanen is missed in Anaheim, but Henrique has provided stability at center as Anaheim continues to deal with injuries throughout their lineup.
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November 30th, 2018