Sam Steel is poised to assume a large role for the Anaheim Ducks next season. He has the potential to become the team’s number 2 center, but it’s far from a certainty. Keeping Henrique in the fold is key for the youngster’s development.
Even if Steel is ready for second line offensive duties, there needs to be a reliable defensive option and someone capable of producing offense if his development curve is slower than expected. Further, Murray is being cautious with placing lofty expectations on the club’s prospects, so Henrique’s steady two-way game allows GMBM to deploy Steel in ideal situations to ensure he develops effectively.
Beyond Steel, the Ducks’ farm system has several young centers that have potential but need time to develop. Whether it is Isac Lundestrom, Antoine Morand, Benoit-Oliver Groulx, or whoever Murray selects 9th overall in the draft this season, it’s highly unlikely they will be ready for significant NHL duties for at least 2 seasons.
Enter Adam Henrique’s ability to play wing. Although he was signed to play center, his ability to transition to the wing when younger players ascend is a benefit that should not be marginalized. We all know injuries happen and young players tend to wear down during the long NHL season, so having a player like Henrique that can assume those roles is invaluable.