Lineup Changes: Adam Henrique A Healthy Scratch

It’s no secret that Adam Henrique has had a bit of a rough ride this season. After nearly winning the Calder Trophy as a rookie last year, Henrique has struggled to find his groove in his sophomore campaign. Pete DeBoer noticed and decided to give Henrique a night off with the Devils freshly eliminated from the playoff race.

Via Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice:

“I think he needs to take a step back for a night and just watch,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. “His confidence isn’t where it needs to be. So, that’s the solution I’ve come up with.”

Henrique admitted he has been struggling with his confidence.

“I guess a little bit,” he said. “Any time you go through a tough stretch, eventually it weighs on you. You start thinking about it more. You start maybe gripping the stick a little bit more in certain areas. I still feel like I was getting opportunities at times. I just wasn’t putting them in, obviously.”

Corey Griffin

After Zach Parise left in free agency, the Devils were counting on strong offensive seasons from guys like Henrique and Travis Zajac. In hindsight, that seems fairly foolish. Red-hot rookies normally struggle in their sophomore seasons when teams have a full year of tape on them and a player like Henrique has to find another level in just his second year in the league. The night off is a good idea, I think, although I wouldn’t bench him for the rest of the season. I think it’s important for him to go into the offseason with some legitimate game experience because, like it or not, he’s going to be a huge part of the Devils’ growth next year, as will Zajac. I don’t think this season says much about Henrique’s development other than he took a typical step back and I think Zajac will be better after having a full season and offseason to adjust to not having his buddy around. The good news for New Jersey is that Henrique’s sub-par season will help the Devils in contract talks this summer when the center will be a restricted free agent. The Devils have a lot of key FAs this summer (Elias, Clarkson, Zubrus, Loktionov) Can you imagine what Henrique would’ve cost if he had duplicated his rookie year in a shortened season? Yeesh. So there is a brightside — kinda. Almost. OK, not really, but it’s something to grab onto.