The rookie to watch before the season started last year was definitely not Adam Henrique. It was the eighteen year old first round pick, Adam Larson. However, for the New Jersey Devils, the third round pick from the 2008 entry draft was more than a pleasant surprise.
The young forward scored sixteen goals and had a total of fifty-one points in his first season as a pro. He was also one of the final nominees for the Calder Trophy which is awarded to the NHL’s best rookie.
Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche would win the award, but for Henrique the nomination was more than a trip to Las Vegas.
“It’s a good feeling,” Henrique explained in an interview following the nomination. “It’s an honor to be nominated for it. This season went far greater than I could have expected. This gives you a little extra confidence boost.”
Only two Devils have their names etched on the Calder Trophy. Martin Brodeur and Scott Gomez both took home the award.
Henrique showed he had a knack for netting the big goal in the playoffs as well, scoring two dramatic overtime winners one of which sent the rival New York Rangers packing and the Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals.
After an unexpected and auspicious rookie campaign, there were whispers about whether or not the dreaded sophomore jinx will hit Henrique in this lockout shortened season.
Hockey players like all athletes are a superstitious bunch and talk of the sophomore slump or jinx comes up whenever a player is unable to live up to the high-expectations he set in his debut season.
Henrique spent the lockout playing for the Devils’ AHL affiliate in Albany. He played in sixteen games, scoring five goals and three assists before undergoing surgery to reattach a ligament in his left thumb on November 29th.
Even with the injury, Henrique was glad he had the opportunity to play during the lockout.
“I had a good time there,” he said in an interview with NJ.com. “I think it was definitely an advantage. We were playing. Coming out of the lockout a lot of guys weren’t playing. I think if they had that choice they would’ve liked to have played too.”
With the surgery and rehabilitation behind him, Henrique is back in the lineup and back to his scoring ways. In six games he has four goals and one assist, keeping the jinx talk at bay.
Everyone from management on down is happy he is suiting up once again.
“It’s great to see him back,” Devils’ coach Pete DeBoer said after his first game. “He’s a big part of our team and our lineup.”