Thursday’s trade by the New Jersey Devils has put a bad taste in fans’ mouths as fan-favorite Adam Henrique was dealt.
One of the last three remaining players from the 2012 run to the Stanley Cup has been traded. Adam Henrique is no longer a New Jersey Devil. Does it sting? Yes, it does. Will this trade pay off? All signs on paper point to yes. Did this trade have to happen? The answer, is yes.
Let’s be real here. As New Jersey Devils fans, Adam Henrique has a special place in our hearts. His historic OT goal, which sent the hated rival Rangers home while the team went to the Stanley Cup, has been watched thousands of times by fans. It was his second OT series winner that postseason. It’s a defining moment that also marks the last time the team won a playoff series.
When news broke on Thursday that the fan favorite had been traded to Anaheim as part of a package for Sami Vatanen, it split the fan base. Some were insistent that it was time for him to go and that the team needed defense. The other half was sad and upset to see a hero join a different team for the first time in his career. Whichever the fans think though, this had to happen. The Devils are better off in the long run. Like the saying goes: “You have to give some, to get some.”
Sami Vatanen brings a lot to the table that the Devils need. Going into this season the defense was the weak point of the Devils’ game. It has been emphasized this season, with the team having to come from behind in many games. Recently, however, those comebacks have either resulted in only one or no points gained. While he only has four points in 15 games this year, it’s not a proper judging point for the effect he would have on this game.
Vatanen is an excellent skater and is an offensive defenseman. He will be of vital use to the team when they are on the power play. Given that coach John Hynes likes to use a forward on the point during the man advantage, Vatanen provides a safety net for the forward, as all will not be lost on a fast rush the other way. Outside of Will Butcher, all Devils defensemen have between zero and eight points this year. Vatanen has a very good chance to, and most likely will, go a long way in changing that.
He also has postseason experience, so if the team does make it that far this year, then they won’t be going in completely blind.
The question remains: Is a 40-point per year defenseman worth a former 30-goal a year man? The third rounder exchange makes sense, even if one of them is conditional. Blandisi has potential but will get more of a chance to blossom for the Ducks. Whether that is in Anaheim or San Diego has yet to be seen. The answer to the first question is yes. The trade actually helps out both team in a positive way.
For those not paying any attention to any West Coast action, the Ducks have been fighting not only to stay relevant in the Golden Knights’ division but to stay in the Wild Card hunt before the hole becomes too deep to climb out of.
The team had been swarmed by untimely injuries and illnesses to key players such as team captain Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Patrick Eaves, and now potentially Jakob Silfverberg. Henrique will provide the much needed missing offense the Ducks desire. And once they are healthy, he can fit nicely into the third line center position.
The Devils on the other hand get a much needed offensive boost on the defensive end. Vatanen can skate, shoot, and move well. The depth he adds to the Devils defense should be a sigh of relief for fans. And he is locked up for one year longer than Henrique, so the team will have him on hand for a while.
Does it suck that a fan favorite has been traded? Yes, especially since he gave fans the only bright spot in the past seven seasons. But time heals all wounds. Vatanen will fit into the mold well, and soon fans will forget why they were even sad in the first place.