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Sami Vatanen traded for Adam Henrique as Ducks, Devils fill needs

Two teams in very different places right now made a nice hockey trade that will help both in the short term and long term.

Ohhh, we’ve got a trade, folks. The Anaheim Ducks have acquired Adam Henrique, Joseph Blandisi and a third-round pick in 2018 from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Sami Vatanen and a conditional third-rounder in the future. But what does it all mean?

Let’s take a look at the New Jersey side first, since the Devils are currently in a surprise playoff spot and the vibes are good there. In Vatanen, the Devils get a quick, puck-moving defenseman who immediately becomes a top-pairing guy with his new team. Although the Devils have been very successful so far, the Andy Greene-led defense corps was not very impressive on paper and New Jersey is the second-worst possession team in the NHL right now (Anaheim’s the worst, but I’ll get to that later).

Though Vatanen hasn’t exactly been Patrice Bergeron in the possession department, I do feel that his offensive skills will serve both him and the Devils quite well from here on out – just imagine how an already quick offense, with weapons like Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier, will be with a pure puck-mover in the lineup. New Jersey’s best offensive threat from the blueline this season by far has been rookie Will Butcher, but he’s not the most fleet of foot. Now the Devils have another slick option back there and the defensive depth gets a nice boost. And while I would never call a player like Henrique expendable, I will point out that New Jersey has been getting bonus production from players such as Brian Gibbons and Jesper Bratt this season, so the forward depth is better than expected – heck, they thrived without Travis Zajac in the lineup for the first month.

By the same token, Anaheim has a great blueline corps, with Jacob Larsson and Josh Mahura still in the pipeline.

Anaheim’s acquisition of Henrique brings up several thoughts. First off, the Ducks have been decimated by injuries up front, with crucial players Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Rickard Rakell and now Jakob Silfverberg all out of the lineup for varying amounts of time (oh, and Patrick Eaves and Ondrej Kase are hurt, too).

At this point, the Ducks just need to survive. Henrique, in a perfect world, is a second-line center, but he can play on the top line and Anaheim will likely need that in the short term. Despite all the injuries, the Ducks are actually still in the wild card hunt. They’re just a point out right now and eventually the team will get some of those crucial bodies back. Henrique’s best offensive output came in 2015-16 when he put up 30 goals and 50 points for New Jersey. He’s on pace for nearly as many points (albeit far fewer goals) and as someone who can also play on the left wing, he gives Anaheim some options.

Most importantly, however, is that Henrique (like Vatanen) is locked in for the next couple years. Henrique’s contract runs until the summer of 2019, which gives GM Bob Murray some comfort, since veterans Andrew Cogliano and Antoine Vermette are both slated to become unrestricted free agents at the end of this season. Henrique is younger than both and the Ducks need to skew in that direction.

In Blandisi, Anaheim gets a player with decent offensive skills that could help them right now, but is more likely in the AHL once everyone gets healthy. The conditional draft pick going to New Jersey is based on Henrique re-signing once his contract expires. If he doesn’t stay in Anaheim, the third-rounder reverts back to the Ducks.

All in all, a good trade for two teams that needed different things.


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