Adam Henrique will be a huge part of this season for the Devils, particularly if he can steal the No. 1 center role away from Travis Zajac. Of course, Henrique’s season was sidetracked when he completely tore a ligament off the bone in his left thumb. Henrique is no longer wearing a hard cast, is rehabbing and is hoping to return in late January, although he admitted there is no official timeline.
He is scheduled to see the doctor again in two weeks and hopes to get the go-ahead then to begin skating.
Obviously, he will not be ready in time for the Devils’ season opener on Jan. 19.
“We don’t have a set date,” he said. “So, I guess, we’ll just see how things progress and how things come along. Right now, I’m just aiming to be (ready) around the end of the month. But the best way to put it is that we need to make sure it’s strong and it’s ready to go and that’s going to be able to handle playing.”
The key will be getting the hand strong enough where it can sustain the wear and tear of a shortened season. Yes, Henrique isn’t even 23 yet, but you better believe opposing players will be testing his hand a lot in his first few games back and there will not be a ton of time off with the compact schedule. Henrique was a compelling story as a rookie and an absolute beast in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (ask the Rangers), but he’ll be asked to do a lot more with Zach Parise playing in the land of 1,000 lakes. That puts the Devils in a tough spot. They can’t afford to be without him for long, but to rush him back risks losing arguably your second-most important offensive player. It’ll be a delicate balancing act.