April 18, 2024

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NHL Trade Grades: Henrique helps the Oilers line up their forwards for a playoff run

NHL Trade Grades: Henrique helps the Oilers line up their forwards for a playoff run

The Edmonton Oilers get: Forward Adam Henrique, forward Sam Carrick, Ducks 2024 seventh-round draft pick, goaltender Ty Taylor.

Anaheim Ducks get: Oilers' 2024 first-round draft pick, Oilers' 2025 fifth-round draft pick, who becomes No. 4 if the Oilers win the Stanley Cup (also retains 50 percent of Henrique and Carrick's salary).

Tampa Bay Lightning get: Oilers' 2024 fourth-round pick (retain 25 percent of Henrique and Carrick's salary).

Eric Duhacek: In Henrique, the Oilers got the best center option available after Elias Lindholm (from Vancouver from Calgary) and Sean Monahan (from Montreal to Winnipeg) were off the board — and then they added a big bonus in Sam Carrick, who is a deceptively good addition. Adding Henrique allows them to move Ryan McLeod to the wing, where he is better suited to play, and provides the same type of center depth that Nick Bjugstad provided to the Oilers at last year's deadline as a rental.

In order to make the dollars work, since Henrique has a whopping $5.825 million on an expiring contract, the Oilers needed to bring in a third team (the Tampa Bay Lightning) — again, the same modus operandi they used to get Bjustad on board last year . For pennies on the max.

In some ways, Henrique offers many of the same qualities as Monahan. He's good in the faceoff circle (52.9 percent). He is a veteran player who has the versatility to play as a midfielder or as a winger, depending on where the team needs more. He can kill penalties – his five shortstops this season are just two off the league lead and he can be a presence on the team's second power play unit.

In Anaheim this year, because the Ducks wanted to develop both Leo Karlsson and Mason McTavish as centers, Henrique played mostly on the left side — but has the ability to move seamlessly from one position to another without much difficulty. You can imagine a scenario in which Henrique plays on the third line with former Ducks teammate Corry Perry, which could be an annoying and challenging matchup for any opponent.

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I spoke to Henrique at length about the trade deadline a few weeks ago, ironically one morning when they were playing the Oilers, with Edmonton general manager Ken Holland in the building. So, Holland got a first-hand look that night at what Henrique can bring. And of course, Holland has a relationship with Ducks GM Pat Verbeek that goes back to his Detroit days.

You can read Henrique's thoughts here. He talked about the possibility of a move (he seemed ready and willing at the same time), how he became a better faceoff man over time in the NHL and how if you move up the ranks as a center, it's easier to switch to play. Different front position if asked.

For the most part, what you get with Henrique is all-around professionalism. It wouldn't be hard to imagine a scenario in which Henrique plays a pivotal role in the Oilers' extended run and playoff run and then re-signs with the Ducks as a UFA after July 1. He had Captain's Material written all over him.

Often times, the biggest issue an incoming player faces as a trade deadline signing is adjusting and adjusting quickly to a new city, a new organization, and a new system. And with Henrique, this transition should be as smooth as possible.

The main reason it has taken so far to move Henrique is because of his contract (the longer a team waits, the more breathing room there is on the cap). Lindholm and Monahan were much less expensive. Even with the dollar retained, it took some maneuvering for the dollar to succeed.

But Edmonton, since the coaching change, has become a legitimate contender. Carrick adds depth in the middle and plays with deceptive skill. You get a tough 12 and a half minutes out of him every game. The ideal formation up front would have been a top-six right winger to put him in line with Leon Draisaitl. Maybe this is still in the works.

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As for the ducks, they are fine. Edmonton sacrifices its 2024 first-round pick, as well as a conditional fifth-round pick in 2025 that is upgraded to fourth if the Oilers win the Stanley Cup. Edmonton's prospect pool, other than Dylan Holloway and Filip Broberg, is a bit thin, which is why the deal went the way it did. Some of the deals so far have seemed a bit one-sided. This seems fairly even.

Grade of oilers: B
Row ducks: B
Lightning degree: B

Sheena Goldman: The Oilers have room for improvement on offense, defense and in goal. This means the team can't really afford to go to any single position. The good news is that, given their star power at the top of the lineup, the team does not have the potential to be a game-breaker on offense. This makes Adam Henrique a perfect fit.

At this stage of his career, Henrique is more of a line rider than a driver. That's good because that's all the Oilers need at this point. The team has Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ahead of it on the depth chart. If anything, he's a very strong option to complement their top nine. Henrique doesn't really stand out in just one area, but instead adds solid effectiveness everywhere. He adds some flexibility to the lineup through his ability to operate in the middle or on the wing.

This gives the Oilers another option in the middle six if/when Draisaitl makes the jump to McDavid's wing. When both players are positioned as central midfielders, he can easily switch to winger in a top-six position. The fact that he has been able to produce very consistent results on a bad team is promising for Edmonton, as he will have a lot of supporting duo and developing skills around him. So, he brings the ability to bolster his scoring depth and add another penalty kill to the mix.

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Sam Carrick strengthens the bottom six positions in the team, reducing the chance of the team needing to field 11 forwards and seven defenders, as they did last year. It doesn't hurt for Edmonton to go 11F/7D sometimes, but having four reliable lines to rely on primarily is the best way to preserve their best talent during a long playoff run.

Positions are running at high prices this year, so the cost of acquisition is no surprise here. Is it a little sharp? certainly. But the Oilers should focus on improving their prospects right now (especially before the next Draisaitl and McDavid contracts), so draft picks are more valuable as trade assets. Having to take just 25 percent of Henrique's strikes is something worth paying for when there are now other areas they need to turn their attention to.

As for the Ducks, this has all been verified – a pending UFA first-round pick is a good thing. The pick may end up being closer in value to the early second round, but that's a good thing, especially with the possibility of the fifth round being upgraded to the fourth round.

Bringing Tampa Bay into the fold and scoring a fourth-round pick is a win for them as well, considering how few options they have after these last few deadlines. The team has enough space to work with, with Mikhail Sergachev under contract at LTIR. This fourth player may not seem like much, but he is another asset to spend to help expand their window.

Grade of oilers: a-
Row ducks: B+
Lightning degree: a

(Adam Henrique Photo: Jimmy Sabow/USA Today)