The New Jersey Devils have some of the best players in that typical center form. Travis Zajac is great at putting people in the best position to score, as you could see with what he did with Jaromir Jagr on his side. Ryan Carter is the perfect guy to have centering a fourth line. He is gritty and a great forechecker. You have Patrik Elias, who is typically a left wing, but played many games at center this season. He is more of a scoring type, as you can tell by normally being a winger.
Should the Devils move Adam Henrique away from the center position? Don’t get me wrong, he is doing a great job up the middle. The only issue is his positioning may be halting his growth offensively. It is hard to make that argument when he led the team in goals scored with 25, but the first half of the season there was much to be desired.
Henrique showed his true superstar potential this season. He didn’t need Zach Parise or Ilya Kovalchuk on his wing to put up great numbers for the first time in his career. There were games where he was the best player on the ice for either team. His season started with an awful 10 points in the first two months (27 games, .37 points per game). The rest of the season he had 33 points (55 games, .60 PPG).
His $4 million salary is looking like more and more of a steal. To get the best potential out of him, you want him to focus on scoring goals and getting in the right place in the offensive zone. His instincts won’t let his defensive game drop. He will still be a great penalty killer. The only thing that you are changing is he won’t take faceoffs (which he won only 44.3 percent of the time) and he would lose responsibility, which may be a good thing. It is time for Pete DeBoer to pull the plug on making him a winger full-time.
You have enough players on this team that you don’t need to keep Henrique up the middle. You can even go out and sign someone to take up that position if you think it is going to be such a terrible loss. You must put this kid in the best position to succeed. Between Cory Schneider, the young defensemen, Zajac and Henrique, that is the foreseeable future of the franchise. You have to make sure the franchise is in good hands.