I was in the middle of writing my other articles when I heard about this, but now that I'm on to a new topic, I wanted to take a moment to mourn the loss of ExtraSkater.com which has now left us as its founder Darryl Metcalf moved on to bigger and better things. A few new sites have stepped up to take its place though. My favorite is a site called Progressive Hockey. To those interested in advanced stats I highly suggest giving it a look as it has much of extra skaters functionality. It is a bit less user friendly but their work is more easily accessible so you may download for your own use. I bring this up because I will use them in profiling my favorite player: Adam Henrique.
Why I Started to Love Him
I've been a Devils fan since I was born. I have pictures of me with the '95 cup when I was 3 years old. I unfortunately didn't understand the nuances of hockey until much later in life and after the Devils' glory days. I grew up loving Marty, Patty and Dano, and my favorite player at the time was Bobby Holik. But, I've been waiting for a Devils team to call my own and it finally feels like one is forming and it is all centered around Adam. More on that later.
Adam burst onto the scene as a rookie, but many people rightly mentioned that he benefited mightily from being on a line with two great players. Just under half of Henriques 35 assists were secondary which implies that he wasn't as much a factor as the shooters were. However, a funny thing happened to him once the playoffs hit. Despite scoring less frequently, it seemed like every goal he scored was a game-winner (in reality he had 3 GWG). I was at the "Henrique it's over game." He became my favorite player that second. This was only amplified when Parise, Clarkson, and Kovy all left to go home.
Why I Continue to Love Him
As referenced in my past articles, last season, Henrique evolved into an advanced stats darling. It's tough to convince anyone that Jagr wasn't our best forward by any metric (comment below if you disagree), but according to the stats I've seen, Henrique may be the second best, and certainly most important.
It's no secret that the Devils are one of the best possession teams in the league. It's also no secrect that Henrique is not a great possession player (-0.84% RelCF%). This is one of the biggest knocks on him and I couldn't care less about it -- here's why.
Matt Pfeffer is the founder of Progressive Hockey and while working over at Hockey Prospectus had done some great work with shot quality. Just like quality of competition did a few years ago, shot quality puts things like corsi and fenwick in better perspective. Shot quality is more consistent year to year and is extremely predictive of shooting percentages. When you adjust the Fenwicks using shot quality, a different picture gets painted as portrayed by Pfeffers stat ExpGF%. Henrique climbs to #4 on the Devils active roster, behind only Jagr, Zajac, and Greene (in the link, filter the chart to Devils only and Sort by ExpGF%).
Why He is So Important
I know it's probably been bugging you why I keep calling him the most important Devil. Firstly, I should adjust this to most important skater. With a shaky backup situation, Schneider is almost definitely the most important Devil. But I believe Henrique is important because of the thing he does that no one else did: score. Specifically it was how he scored. As I mentioned before, shot quality is a new stat that weight certain situations in which scoring is more likely. Pfeffer quantifies this with a shot quality stat which is essentially a projected shooting percentage. Many have pointed out that Henriques shooting percentage was not sustainable. While I totally agree, it's not as ridiculous as it would initially appear. Henrique 5v5 Shot Quality was 12th in the NHL this year and 11th the year before. He has also never finished below 2nd on the team in the statistic.
When we lost Parise and Clarkson, we lost the guys that cleaned up the garbage and put away the open shots. Henrique is getting at those pucks and this past year as shown by the ridiculous Sh% he succeeded. If he continues to do this, he will be the cog that makes this possession team run the way it is supposed to. If you are interested in the new guys, Havlat was somewhere around a 7.5% in his years in San Jose, Camalleri has been between a 6.2% and 6.8% every year. At around 8% shot quality, Henrique is poised to again threaten the top 10 in the stat and lead the team.
He's a great penalty killer, has a DGVT on par with the Selke finalists, he is exactly the kind of goal scorer a high possession team needs, he's clutch, and he's signed for the next 6 years so it's safe to get invested. In a team that is likely to be guided by one of the best groups of young defensemen in the league, Henrique and Zajac will need to guide the offense to at least moderate success in order for the Devils to retain success like they did in the late nineties and early 2000s. I have faith they will do that.
Not to mention he's also a chick magnet.
Thanks for Reading
Thanks for reading as always guys. Comment below on your thoughts. Who is your favorite Devil? What reasons do you have for choosing him? Do you like Henrique? Do you think he's the most important skater? Comments make me feel important so leave as many as you'd like.