Play of centermen Hischier and Gibbons
allows Ray Shero to shore-up defense.
Savvy transaction by general manager Ray Shero - center Adam Henrique and winger Joseph Blandisi are heading to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman Sami Vatanen.
I'm sure Devils fans were just as surprised upon hearing about the trade as Henrique was reported to be. Adam, a team alternate captain who turns 28-years old in February, played six full seasons in a Devils uniform after being selected by Newark in the third round of the 2008 entry draft. He posted a career high 30 goals and 50 points just two seasons ago.
His departure leaves team captain Andy Greene, and Travis Zajac, as the last two remaining members of the Devils 2011-12 playoff team. Newark has not qualified for the playoffs since.
Despite losing Kyle Palmieri (foot) for six weeks, the emergence of last year's number one overall selection, Nico Hischier, and the return to the ice of center Travis Zajac, arguably rendered Adam Henrique somewhat expendable. Newark has been getting good efforts up the middle. Hischier has five goals and 18 points through 24 games thus far, while Brian Gibbons has netted a team leading 11 goals (15 points). Overall, the Devils are currently ninth in the league in scoring, while Henrique has only accounted for four goals (and ten assists) in 24 games.
Joseph Blandini has split time between Newark and Binghamton over the last two seasons. As part of the deal, the Devils will also send their 2018 third round pick to Anaheim. If the Ducks are able to re-sign Henrique, the Devils will receive Anaheim's 2019 third round pick.
In return, the Devils receive 26-year old Sami Vatanen, considered a top-four defenseman. New Jersey is currently 17th in goals against. Vatanen is someone Ray Shero believes can add an offensive element from the blue line. Anaheim's fourth round selection of the 2009 entry draft, Sami Vatanen posted a career high 12 goals in 2014-15, and a career high 29 assists and 38 points the following season. He owns a career +22 with 126 points over 280 games played.
The move comes on the heels of Newark's Nov. 12 setback, with defenseman Mirco Mueller suffering a broken clavicle. He underwent surgery, and is not expected back until February. Ray Shero acquired Mueller during the off-season from San Jose in exchange for the Devils 2017 second and fourth round picks.
The Devils have spent much of the first-quarter regular season in first place, but have slipped of late. After jumping out to an 8-2-0 record in October, they stumbled to a 6-4-4 mark in November, highlighted by four straight loses against Calgary, St. Louis, and a pair against Edmonton.
New Jersey and the New York Islanders are presently tied for second place in the Metropolitan Division with 32 points, one point behind the leading Columbus Blue Jackets.