The Anaheim Ducks and New Jersey Devils made a surprising trade this morning with Adam Henrique, Joseph Blandisi and a 2018 Third Round Pick going from the Devils to the Ducks in exchange for Sami Vatanen and a conditional Third Round Pick and I for one think this. Is. Brilliant (for both teams). Let’s start with the basics, the Devils got a talented defenseman in exchange for a talented center. The Devils are currently allowing the 16th most goals and the Ducks have scored the 7th most goals. Clearly both teams have the needs that they are meeting here.
Let’s start with the Ducks side of this, while it’s still early the Ducks have struggled out of the get working to keep the ship afloat amidst struggles with scoring and injuries. They currently sit one point out of the wild card race so it’s not so bad that they want to mail it in altogether. I have discussed previously the Ducks strength on defense and in net while their strength on offense (cough cough Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry) are declining year in and out at a pace quicker than up and coming Rickard Rakell and Andrew Cogliano can backfill. Add to this Ryan Getzlaf’s injury which has limited him to just 6 games this season and Anaheim is in dire need for a first line center. Did I just mention the injury bug again? Let me add to Ryan Getzlaf’s injury with Ryan Kesler, Ondrej Kase, Patrick Ease and just a few games ago Rickard Rakell (who was filling in for Ryan Getzlaf as the top line center) and this team is certainly struggling with injuries right now. Adam Henrique will provide a capable two way center who can win faceoffs; however, while his production should increase with the Ducks, he won’t be filling the shoes of either Getzlaf OR Rakell. They will wait for Rakell to come back to provide the serious offensive push while Adam gives them both a capable center (which they need), youth to the team (which they need) a stop gap while their forwards get healthy (which they need) and most importantly power play presence as a guy who a third of his points have come from the power play (on a team that has the 8th fewest power play goals).
One of Adam’s finest moments:
The New Jersey Devils finished last season 3rdworst team in the league, won the top pick in the NHL draft and promptly selected Nico Hichier. Most rational people assumed two things, the Devils would be better, albeit marginally and Nico Hischier was not as talented as previous #1 picks Auston Matthews or Connor McDavid. Instead the Devils are currently 9th in the NHL with 32 points, just 4 points out of first place and Nico has 18 points through 24 games (for reference Auston had 18 points through 24 games last year and Connor had 22 points through his first 24 games). The Devils offense has been strong (8th most goals) with Taylor Hall, Nico hischier, Jeseper Bratt, Brian Gibbons, Adam Henrique and even defenseman Will Butcher scoring at least .5 points per game through the first 24 games. Meanwhile, on defense they are not doing so well allowing 74 goals to their 78 scored, good enough for 16th most goals in the league and leaving 11 of their 23 players with a negative plus minus. No disrespect to their top pairing of Andy Greene and Steven Santini but they needed depth badly. Sami Vatenen provides depth, ability to play big minutes (he played third most with Ducks), strong defensive hits and blocked shots and a presence on their power play.
Sami earlier this year
Adam Henrique is currently 13% owned, expect his .5 points per game to increase to .65 points per game alongside sniper Corey Perry. If he was on pace to score 40 points this year, I think he can actually top 50 for just the second time in his career.
Sami Vatanen is ALSO 13% owned but I would not expect a large change in his current production. This is a 20 point player who will get you hits and blocked shots with around 12 power play points.