Adam Henrique looked like he was going to be the next star for the New Jersey Devils. He was nominated for the Calder Trophy in a very deep rookie class back in 2011-12. The next two seasons weren’t bad, but they weren’t that of a star either.
People were pointing to the fact that he played on a line with Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk as to why he had inflated stats that season. It was looking that way last year when Kovalchuk went down and Henrique’s numbers started to plummet. He started with nine goals in the first half of the season, but once the injury occurred, he only had two goals in the last 20 games.
This season he could not stay consistent. He scored four goals in the first month of the season, two in the next month, three in December and then five in January. He went into the Olympic break with 14 goals and 13 assists. Since the break ended he has scored nine goals, and he is currently on a six-game goal scoring streak with three multiple-goal games. He has been everything the Devils needed in their stretch run to the playoffs.
Many are finally seeing why the expectations were so high for Henrique. Despite the inconsistency, the Devils still gave Henrique a six-year deal worth $24 million. They showed the same loyalty when they gave Travis Zajac an eight-year deal directly out of the lockout.
Since the end of the break, Henrique has been the best player in the NHL. He is playing on a line with Michael Ryder and Ryane Clowe. Since the break, he has been named one of the NHL three stars of the week in both weeks. If he can continue to score at this pace, he shows why the Devils didn’t need to go out and get a scorer at the deadline. They just needed one of their own scorers to get hot.
Henrique is on fire right now. He has carried the Devils to a 4-2 record out of the break. They are averaging 4.33 goals per game, much higher than the 2.4 they were averaging before the break. He seems to be extra motivated after watching his native Canada win the gold medal at Sochi. He has already said he one day wants to play for his home country, and now he is trying to show he deserves it.
With $21 million to spend in the offseason to replace five players, adding a big scorer to a newly motivated Henrique could produce a Stanley Cup contender every season. For now, the Devils are focused on trying to make the postseason this year. They are only two points out of a playoff spot. If Henrique can continue to play like a superstar, I am fairly confident that the Devils will overcome the deficit and make the playoffs.
Nick Villano is the New Jersey Devils writer for Rant Sports. He also adds to the NBA, NFL and MLB content on the site. You can follow him on Twitter here.