Luke Henman is a lightweight Canadian winger hailing from Nova Scotia. While standing an even 6 feet tall, Elite Prospects has him weighing only 150 pounds, which is quite light. As an aspiring professional center, he will certainly need to bulk up if he wants to continue playing long term.
Given his relatively later start in the major junior circuit as compared to his peers, his numbers are not as good as you will see from the top prospects. He has only one full year of experience in the QMJHL, and while it was a solid one, it was not such that he will be a top name. However, he clearly has potential, so seeing his name called in the middle or later rounds will definitely be a strong probability. Is he someone that Ray Shero and the New Jersey Devils should look at with one of their later picks? Let’s take a look.
Who is Luke Henman?
Luke has risen through the ranks of Canadian junior hockey. He played in the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League through a large portion of the 2016-17 season, absolutely dominating the competition in his last stint there before getting an upgrade to major junior competition. He only got 6 games of major junior experience that season, playing his games for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Q. He had a decent stint there, however, with 4 points in 6 games of regular season action. Sadly for him, however, he was not on the Armada’s roster for the playoffs, when they got all the way to the QMJHL championship finals, losing to Saint John in a sweep. That was 20 games of playoff action that he lost out on, which would have been an invaluable learning experience.
This season, however, he became a regular for the Armada, playing in 61 regular season games. He produced 47 points in that time frame, good for 0.77 points per game, a very respectable number. That was good for 6th on his team, and was the best among rookies on the team and 8th best among all rookies in the league. Even better, the Armada went on another deep run in the playoffs this season, and he was a part of it. In 20 games, he had 14 points, with 6 goals and 8 assists. He was a consistent producer on the playoff roster for a team that ended up 2 wins away from a championship, losing out to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Overall, in his time in the Q, he has been a very consistent producer of offense, reliably producing around ¾ of a point per game, even in the playoffs.
The negative to that, however, depends on what kind of production you want. As you’ll note from their two long playoff runs to the finals over the last two seasons, the Armada have been a very good team since Luke has been on it. This season, they were the best regular season team in the league, with a 50-11-4-3 record. The next best team, the eventual champions, had only 43 wins. He was clearly surrounded by talented players. In the regular season, Henman’s production almost entirely came from them. Of his 47 points, a whopping 38 of them came as assists. He only had 9 regular season goals. That certainly makes you wonder how he would have done if he were playing on a worse team, perhaps like the Shawinigan Cataractes, who only managed 16 regular season victories. Now, he did manage 6 playoff goals in 20 games, so that was a huge boost as compared to the regular season, but one still has to wonder how inflated his point totals were this season because of the talented roster around him, and how much he actually would have produced on a worse team.
Where is Henman Ranked?
Central Scouting was very kind to Henman since the midterms. At the midterm rankings, he was ranked as the 147th North American skater, which would mean he might not even be drafted, or maybe would squeak in as a 7th rounder. For the final rankings, however, he jumped up all the way to 83rd, a significant improvement that showcased the quality season he had, as well as the excellent play he had in the playoffs. The 83rd North American skater is definitely a mid-round pick, perhaps the 4th or 5th rounds, give or take how many European skaters go before then.
Elsewhere, you’re not going to find many rankings that go much beyond the first round or the top 60, so finding many others who rank Henman is difficult. However, we do find a couple. The Draft Analyst has his top 500 rankings going into the draft. In there, he is not high on Luke at all, ranking him #394. Considering last year, the draft contained 217 picks, it’s clear that Steve thinks that Henman should not be drafted this year, a stark difference from how Central Scouting has him pegged.
Draft Site does their yearly 7 round mock draft, and their draft position for Henman more resembles Central Scouting than it does the Draft Analyst. At this point, they have Minnesota taking Henman with pick #179, which is in the 6th round.
Over at TSN, Craig Button included Henman in his rankings from March. Granted, he notes that he does not rank players he has not seen on multiple occasions, and that almost assuredly is the reason Henman makes the list whereas other, better European prospects are left off. Given that knowledge, however, Button has Henman ranked #90, not a bad place to be at all. Even if he dropped another 20 spots from players Button didn’t see, it would be a solid ranking for the kid.
Otherwise, it is tough to find legitimate rankings out there. Future Considerations does not have him in their top 100 rankings for the draft, which is logical to expect, and most others do not go so deep as to have Luke on the list.
What Others Have Said About Henman
Despite the lower ranking for him, The Hockey Writers still has a draft profile up for him, which is excellent. In it, we learn that Henman was actually drafted by another Q team, Cape Breton, to play in 2016-17, but Henman did not attend, most likely because he felt he was not ready. The extra seasoning in midgets might have helped, as he has been productive since coming up with the Armada. Some quotables from the profile: “More of a playmaker than a goal scorer, Henman uses his phenomenal hockey sense to set up teammates for easy tap-ins on a frequent basis… possesses a deceptively hard shot for a player of his size… tends to pass on shooting opportunities in favor of making a play unless he’s in a prime shooting area… plays more of a finesse game and doesn’t get too involved physically… Henman has the smarts but it remains to be seen if his body can withstand the extra punishment.”
Also of note from here, Henman was bumped up to become the team’s top line center when the team’s leading scorer went down with an injury in the second round of the playoffs. That the coach had enough trust in Henman to do that was a positive for sure. In terms of a draft projection, THW says “There’s no guarantee that his name is called during the draft weekend but, if it is, he has the skills and potential to develop into a draft day steal.”
In a list of need to know prospects from The Hockey News, Henman is given a short blurb from writer Ryan Kennedy. The quote: “While the Armada have some fantastic veterans leading the charge, Henman has been a real nice player for the team in the playoffs. The 2018 draft prospect just had his post-season points streak end at eight games and he’s been great on faceoffs. The kid still needs to put some weight on his frame, but Henman has smarts and skill. NHL arrival: 2021-22.” The fact alone that he thinks Henman will make the NHL is huge for this kid, and speaks to the potential that he flashed this year as a 17-year old rookie to major junior hockey.
Sportsnet had an article about those who rose significantly in Central Scouting’s rankings, and Henman was clearly one of those players. In the article, Sam Cosentino writes “Henman has benefitted greatly from playing in a system that demands hard work and attention to detail in the defensive zone. The Armada were also the second-highest scoring team in the league, allowing for players like Henman to realize the value of turning defence into offence. Henman is slight of frame, and it shows in a skating stride that will become more powerful as he gains strength. He has good stick skills with a shot that will also benefit as he gets stronger. He has really come on in the playoffs.” Again, it is clear that Henman benefitted greatly from a strong Armada team, but these people still like his skills and potential to continue to grow. That could do well for his draft stock.
A Little Video
Here is a short highlight of two goals he scored in the first period of a playoff game in April against Moncton. He wears #16. Again, this is more rare from him, a distributor first and foremost, but they are nice goals nonetheless:
Here is a slow-motion goal from Henman in the finals this year:
When discussing players in later rounds, it is hard to give an exact pinpoint yes or no on an opinion about whether the Devils should take the player. The question really becomes about value. At what point does the player become a good value pick for Ray Shero? And with Luke Henman, there is no easy answer. There is a really wide range of opinions about his value from analysts. Some believe he is a true mid-rounder, more have a late-round grade, and some go lower than that, believing him to be undrafted. Therefore, where to expect him to be taken is tough, and even tougher to suggest where the optimal value would be.
To me, then, it has to come down to the player himself, and I think Henman certainly has upside. Since entering major junior play, he has consistently produced around ¾ of a point per game, which is solid production with room for improvement. Assuming he gains some weight and isn’t always super thin, he should be able to better acclimate to tougher players, and with another year playing for the Armada, he should show growth in his game. This all makes him out to be a mid-rounder for sure, in line with Central Scouting.
The real question mark comes in how much you believe he benefitted from playing on a dominant Armada team. If you place significant value on that, then you would have to assume that his numbers and production would be definitively worse if he played on even just an average QMJHL team this season. This would hurt his value, making him a late-rounder at best.
In the end, however, I don’t think you can discount his successful performance in the playoffs this year, and what quality work he did as a top line center in those stressful games in April. While I think his numbers are certainly buoyed to at least a small degree because of team effects, in the end I don’t think it murders his value, and his playoff performance should convince others of that as well. If he is still available when the Devils pick in the 5th round at #136, I would have no problem if Shero pulled the trigger on Henman there. Some could argue that he could go to New Jersey at pick #110 of the fourth round, and I wouldn’t hate the pick there, but I think he could easily fall to #136 too, so I think there is extra value there, and potentially worth it to wait on him. Again, others might argue 5th round is still too high for this kid, but I think the ceiling on Henman is decently high, and worth a gamble at that point in the draft.
That’s my take, however. What is your take on Henman? Do you see him as someone worth drafting? If so, where? The Devils have picks in rounds 4-6. Should they use a pick in one of those rounds on Henman? If so, when would you think is the right time to pull the trigger? Please leave your comments below, and thanks for reading another prospect profile here at AATJ!