Henrique looking for more this fall

Young center hopes to realize NHL dream in New Jersey

Friday, 07.16.2010 / 11:34 AM ET / Features
By Eric Marin
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Henrique looking for more this fall
Adam Henrique was selected 82nd overall in 2008.
Adam Henrique’s list of hockey achievements would make any 20-year-old envious. But with all that he’s done, the young centerman has one more item on his to-do list: he wants to be a part of the Devils’ youth movement this October.

The 6-0, 195-lb., pivot has impressed with his play at this year's rookie camp. It’s the third camp for Henrique, who wants to stand out again in September.

“We started training a few weeks back and my goal is to make the NHL,” Henrique said this week. “I know it’s going to be very tough but I feel I have an opportunity to do that if I have a good summer then come in and have a good camp and show the coaches what I can do. I want to get some exhibition games in and get my feet wet.”

The Devils’ coaching staff has noticed. Their fourth choice, 82nd overall, in 2008, Henrique is one of several strong prospects in the system along with Jacob Josefson (1/2009), Mattias Tedenby (1/2008) and Alexander Urbom (3/2009).

“I thought he looked good today, moving, positioning-wise he was good,” head coach John MacLean said Thursday. “Guys like that, there’s some talent out there for sure, it’s just whether it’s going to be ready in September or not.”

It seems the sky’s the limit for the Brantford, Ontario, native. In 2009-10, his fourth season with the Windsor Spitfires (OHL), Henrique made a 14-point jump over his previous campaign with 38 goals, 39 assists for 77 points in 54 contests. He was a force in the playoffs, tallying 20 goals, five assists in 19 games to earn the Wayne Gretzky “99” Award as OHL playoff MVP. Windsor overcame a 3-0 deficit to Kitchener in the semifinal before sweeping the top-seeded Barrie Colts in the final.

As OHL champs, the Spitfires earned the chance to defend their 2009 Memorial Cup crown. They did just that, going undefeated (4-0) to become the first repeat winner of the coveted trophy since the Kamloops Blazers in 1995. There was little suspense in the title game, as Windsor drubbed host Brandon (WHL), 9-1. Henrique finished the tournament with four goals, four assists – second in points to teammate and 2010 first-overall pick Taylor Hall (5g-4a-9pts).

“It’s hard to explain it,” Henrique said. “It’s just unbelievable, so much fun. And the run we went on this year, too, being down 3-0 to Kitchener then coming back and winning that series in seven. Sweeping Barrie nobody really expected – I didn’t expect that. They were the No. 1 team coming in and they beat us both times during the year. I think it’s just that experience that helped us that much more.”

It was a contrast to 2009, when Windsor dropped their first two Memorial Cup games before rallying with four straight victories to win it all. That year, Henrique (5g-4a) tied Jamie Benn (4g-5a) for the tournament scoring lead with nine points. (Benn, who turns 21 on July 18, made his NHL debut last season with Dallas, scoring 22 goals, 19 assists in 82 games.)

“We knew when we got to the tournament that we could do it,” Henrique said of Windsor's Memorial Cup defense. “There was no question in my mind that we were going to. We didn’t really stress the first couple of games because the first year we lost the first two, dug ourselves a hole and had to play every game. This year we made it a little easier on ourselves, went the complete opposite route.”

He worked his way onto Canada’s World Junior squad, scoring one goal in six appearances. Team Canada fell just short of a sixth straight gold medal, losing to the U.S. in overtime of the gold-medal game.

“Coming out of last season, after that run to the Memorial Cup that really got my confidence up heading into the summer,” Henrique said. “Getting invited to World Junior camp, going into the year, I felt really confident coming here. Going back to Windsor, one of my goals was to make it to the World Junior team. I knew I had to have a good start to the year and just come out flying, working hard every day and that’s what I did. I got fortunate, we were playing great as a team. I felt like my play was really good and was where it needed to be. I got picked for the World Juniors, which was huge for me.”

He weathered a slow start after the World Juniors ended. Then, following a suspension resulting from a game misconduct against Sault Ste. Marie in January, Henrique revved it up again.

“After I came back from that I really turned it on and started playing well,” he said. “I went into the playoffs on a good roll, my confidence was really high. In the playoffs, I think I might have been the most surprised guy with how things were going for me. It seemed like everything was going in the net.”

So the future could be bright for Henrique, who signed an entry-level deal with the Devils last November. Devils’ President/CEO/GM Lou Lamoriello already has said he expects some of the club’s young talent to compete for roster spots in the fall. Words like can only inspire hopefuls like Henrique.

“Wherever I end up, I’m going to be happy,” he said. “Obviously, my goal is to be on the New Jersey Devils.”