NHL: 5 New Jersey Devils Players That Could Benefit from Adam Henrique's Injury
According to multiple sources, New Jersey Devils center Adam Henrique will miss at least 4-6 weeks due to a thumb injury suffered while playing for the Albany Devils.
However, according to Tom Gulitti, Henrique's injury may be more severe then the organization is saying. Gulitti reported that Henrique suffered the same injury that teammate Jacob Josefson dealt with two years ago that forced him to miss two and a half months.
With Zach Parise leaving for free agency and Henrique dealing with what sounds like a significant injury, the Devils will need to rely on other players to step up if the lockout ends by January. New Jersey will have to look to the AHL or their starting young stars to carry the load until Henrique gets back to 100 percent.
Here are five players we may see make an impact in Henrique's absence.
Perhaps the one player who will benefit the most from Adam Henrique's injury is Jacob Josefson.
Josefson has dealt with three significant injuries over the past two seasons that have kept him from getting much playing time, but he has consistently been a factor when he finds his way back into the lineup. With Henrique potentially out two months, Josefson will get a shot to play second line minutes and finally make a name for himself in the NHL.
The 21-year-old Swede has certainly started the 2012-2013 campaign on a roll as he leads the Albany Devils in goals (8) and points (12) through 18 games. He has now become the team's biggest threat on offense and will take on a bigger role as the lockout continues and Henrique rehabs his thumb.
If Josefson can stay healthy and the lockout finally comes to an end, the Devils may have an answer at center until Henrique returns.
Another young talent that could see more ice time is Mattias Tedenby, who up to now has failed to make an impact at the NHL level.
Tedenby has only been able to record nine goals in 101 career NHL games and failed to properly execute Peter DeBoer's system with a minus-15 rating in 2011-2012. He was projected to get a chance in the starting lineup in 2012-2013 before the Devils went out and signed Bobby Butler.
However, with Parise gone and Henrique now out, Tedenby may have found a way back into the starting lineup. It is likely that Patrik Elias will get time at center while Henrique rehabs his thumb, so there will be an opening at the wing position for the first few months of the season.
So far this season Tedenby has four goals and seven points in 15 games, but he still continues to struggle in the plus/minus department with a team second worst minus-five rating. He has been better over the past few games and even scored the game-winning goal against Adirondack on Saturday.
Tedenby may have the most potential amongst the Devils prospects but has yet to turn that into success. He still has a chance to shine at age 22, but this may be the best (and last) chance he will get as a pro.
The Albany Devils may have a list of big NHL names on their roster during the lockout, but their most consistent player has never played in an NHL game.
29-year-old Matt Anderson has spent the past seven seasons in the AHL playing with the Chicago Wolves and the Albany Devils but has never been called up to the big show. Anderson has always been a consistent forward for both organizations, averaging 38 points per season since 2006-2007.
Anderson's best year came in 2010-2011 when he recorded 23 goals and 32 assists in a career high 76 games with Albany, but this season may turn out to be even better. So far Anderson has scored three goals and added six assists in 18 games and is at the top of the team's scoring list with Josefson.
Butler is a new acquisition, Elias may be switching positions early on, and Tedenby has always been a question mark. If Anderson continues to put points in the score column with Albany and plays at the level he has over the past three years, he may finally catch a break with Henrique out.
Stephen Gionta came onto the scene during the NHL playoffs and was one of the big reasons why the New Jersey Devils reached the Stanley Cup Final.
Gionta recorded three goals in 24 games for the Devils in the playoffs and emerged as one of the team's best gritty players at the forward position. With Henrique out and a huge hole left down the middle, Gionta may have a chance to further his career in the NHL.
Gionta is a winger but is capable of playing the center position as was seen when Josefson went down late last year. Fellow linemate Ryan Carter may be put on a different line with Henrique out, so there is a chance that Gionta will alternate between wing and center during the 2012-2013 season.
Anderson and Gionta have a lot in common in that they spent most of their careers in the AHL. However, if Gionta can step up like he did during the playoffs, there is no chance that he goes back to the minors this season.
Tim Sestito has primarily been a reserve player since coming to the NHL with Edmonton in 2008 and has played more games in the AHL then the professional level.
Sestito got a big shot during the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers but failed to record a point in the one game he appeared in. With NHL experience under his belt and consistent scoring at the AHL level, Sestito may get a shot during the early parts of the regular season.
Despite only scoring one goal so far this year with Albany, Sestito ranks second on the team behind Adam Larsson with six assists and is seeing the ice much better then he has in the past. Sestito only had 10 assists in Albany last year and is on pace to break his season high 17 assists he had in 2009-2010.
The Devils have Ilya Kovalchuk, Travis Zajac, Patrik Elias, and Dainius Zubrus to do the scoring while Henrique is away. What the organization needs is a playmaker like Henrique to share the puck, and Sestito may be an interesting option if they want to call someone up from the minors.
Sestito is getting hot at the right time, and if Henrique's injury is as serious as Gulitti is saying, he may get another shot to play this season.
Follow Joe on Twitter @jkuchie