With all the injuries the Ducks have endured, they have been struggling to score consistently. Their trade with New Jersey gives them offensive depth and options up front in the short and long-term, specifically with Adam Henrique.
Through 25 games this season, the Ducks’ solid defense and goaltending led by John Gibson and Ryan Miller have given the Ducks a chance to win nearly every night. However, their offense has not been as reliable.
This comes as no surprise as the Ducks’ laundry list of injuries seemingly grows every game. Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Patrick Eaves, Ondrej Kase, and Rickard Rakell have all missed extended time this season.
Currently on the outside of the playoff picture and 6th in the Pacific, GM Bob Murray wanted to address the team’s offensive struggles sooner rather than later.
Murray’s willingness to pull the trigger shows that the team badly needed an offensive boost. He may be seeing that even when the Ducks do get healthy, they may not have enough weapons up front.
He saw that he could deal from a position of strength – the defensive depth – and went for it. Getting additional weapons never hurts your hockey club. It gives the Ducks the capability to succeed offensively in multiple ways.
Getting Henrique is a big win for the Ducks in the short and long term.
The big win for the Ducks is getting Henrique. In the short term, he can play center while Getzlaf and Kesler are out. He may even replace Derek Grant immediately on the Ducks first line with Corey Perry and Nick Ritchie. After scoring 20 goals and 40 points last year, he should be able to help improve the Ducks’ 27th rank offense at 2.64 goals/game.
In the long term [when the club is at full strength] coach Randy Carlyle has several options at his disposal. One being Carlyle can deploy Henrique as the third line center, with Kase and Ritchie as his wingers. It would be a line of full of offensive threat with Ritchie’s strong shot, Kase’s speed and skill, and Henrique’s creativity.
Carlyle may also choose to put Henrique on the Ducks’ second line to replace left winger Andrew Cogliano. While Cogliano is known for his speed and being a pest defensively, he does not have the offensive ability and upside that Henrique does. Putting Henrique with Kesler and Silfverberg would make the second line more of a scoring threat than in seasons past.
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Another daring possibility is that Carlyle could put Henrique on the first line with Getzlaf and Perry or Rakell. While this may push one of Perry or Rakell down to the third line, it could show Carlyle if Henrique may have some chemistry with Getzlaf like Patrick Eaves did.
Experimenting would not hurt as we are unsure when Eaves will be back on the ice this season. If Getzlaf and Henrique click, it would be a long-term benefit to the club’s offensive potency. it would give the Ducks a great reason to keep Henrique around as he is signed through next season.
In addition, Blandisi may be able to provide an additional net-front presence that the Ducks have been looking for among their bottom six forwards. His play in front will determine his success. If Blandisi is able to score 5-7 goals and accumulate 10-12 points, his acquisition will have been considered a success. Look for him to serve most likely on the 4th line and provide energy shifts.
Overall, the Ducks trade with the Devils was a huge positive. Henrique’s presence instantly makes them better offensively. It also gives Carlyle options to shift his forward lines around and does not take away from their ability to defend.