Adam Henrique has been a member of the Ducks for a little more than two months, but it feels like he's been here for years.
Bob Murray's late-November trade to acquire the 28-year-old center (along with Joseph Blandisi and a 2018 third-round draft pick) from the New Jersey Devils is turning out to be one of the best in-season trades in recent memory, at least in terms of immediate production. Henrique, who celebrated his 28th birthday with an overtime-winner in Buffalo last night, has been nothing short of phenomenal for the Ducks, providing the team not only with timely offense, but a solid two-way game as they continue to keep pace in the tightly contested Western Conference playoff race.
In his short time here, Henrique has already racked up 12 goals (five of which are game winners - tops on the team) and 18 points in 30 games. The Brantford, Ontario native began his Ducks tenure as a top-two center while Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler were on the shelf due to injuries, and now, with the team fully healthy, Henrique has found a niche as the club's third-line pivot alongside Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase.
"He has that unique ability to rise to the occasion," head coach Randy Carlyle said after the game in Buffalo. "He's scored some big goals in the short term for our hockey club. It was a big-time shot in overtime."
Video: ANA@BUF: Henrique wrists home game-winner in OT
His overtime goal against the Sabres was just the latest bit of heroics for the man affectionately known as "Uncle Rico" - or "Rico" for short. Henrique has quickly become a fan favorite in Anaheim. As one of the most beloved players on the Devils, his departure was bittersweet for New Jersey fans who loved him for his contributions on and off the ice.
Henrique's impact with the Ducks was immediate. He began his chapter in Anaheim with a five-game point streak from December 1-9, the second-longest point streak to start a Ducks career. Only Hall-of-Famer Teemu Selanne had a longer point streak to start a Ducks career at 15 games in 1995-96. He recently posted a season-high six-game point streak (eight points, 6g/2a) from January 17-30, one shy of his career high.
And, of course, there was his incredible goal against the Devils in his return to New Jersey.
Video: ANA@NJD: Henrique scores in return to New Jersey
On the day of the trade, Murray told reporters Henrique was going to be used in a different role here than in New Jersey. It's paid off.
"[New Jersey] has had to evolve and they've had to rebuild," Murray said at the time. "He's had a changing role there. With us, it puts him back into a more offensive role, which I think he's going to love. He's not old by any means. Sometimes when teams rebuild or reboot, or have this process, maybe it's time for people to get a change of scenery. It doesn't mean they're bad players."
Video: WPG@ANA: Henrique steals puck, goes top shelf in 1st
Cam Fowler knew his former Windsor Spitfires teammate would fit right in. Shortly after the trade was made, Fowler shared his thoughts on what Henrique would bring to the Ducks.
"Great guy," Fowler said. "Really good teammate. He's gonna fit in extremely well around here. He brings a lot to us on the ice that will be very valuable to us moving forward."
If the Ducks make the playoffs, Henrique could play a pivotal role in a deep run. In the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he recorded 13 points (5g/8a) with a +12 rating in 24 games and helped lead the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final as a rookie. A Calder Trophy finalist that year, Henrique tallied two goals in Game 7 of the Conference Quarterfinals vs. Florida, including the game-winner in double overtime, making him the second rookie in NHL history to score an overtime-winning goal in a Game 7. Later in the postseason, he scored again in OT in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final vs. the New York Rangers, sending the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final. To this day, Henrique is the only rookie in NHL history to score two series-clinching overtime goals in the same playoffs.