When the Devils and Ducks swapped center Adam Henrique for defenseman Sami Vatanen on Nov. 30, it was a quintessential dealing-from-strength move for both teams. New Jersey had a plethora of forwards and was weak in the back, and injury-riddled Anaheim had blueliners but needed scoring.
Both teams have steadily if not overwhelmingly compiled points since the trade, with Anaheim going 3-1-4 and New Jersey at 4-3-1 before last night’s meeting between the two in Newark. It was a homecoming for Henrique, and he made the most of it, going one-on-one with Vatanen and completely undressing him and then goalie Corey Schneider.
Henrique said this game was especially draining:
“I don’t know if pumped up is the word,” Henrique said after the game. “Nervous, anxious, excited, a little bit of everything kind of came into it. It was probably one of the longest games I’ve played personally.”
But the Devils scored four unanswered after Henrique’s goal to win the game 5-3. And while the returns are early, the trade’s been working out for both teams. Henrique’s got eight points (four goals) in nine games for the Ducks, while Vatanen has been averaging 22 minutes a night of solid play on the Devils’ top pairing, including power plays and penalty kills.
During the game’s first stoppage, the Devils played a tribute video to Henrique, who came into the league with Jersey in 2011. But the true tribute in the tunnel. Back in 2016, the team held a contest for fans to design goalie Keith Kinkaid’s leg pads. Henrique barged in with his own design, the Pads of Seduction.
Yes, that’s Stephen Gionta’s head on George Costanza’s body. No, the Pads of Seduction did not win the contest.
But after last night’s game, Henrique met with some of his old teammates, and they had a gift for him:
They’re real, and they’re spectacular.
With the win, the Devil sit atop the very-tough Metropolitan. The Ducks are fifth in the Pacific, but just two points out of a wild card spot.