The New Jersey Devils are entering the 2015-2016 season without a captain. The former captain Bryce Salvador didn’t receive a contract from the team in the offseason and ended up retiring. You can say what you want about him the last couple years, but he definitely played a part in the 2012 cup run. His leaving, however, leaves a hole in the Devils’ leadership. The Devils are in a transitional phase so it is also a good time to transition the captaincy. The Devils need a captain who can turn this team’s mindset around. The team needs a captain who knows how to win. They need some veteran experience. They just need to have been a part of a winning team. So the two prime targets are Adam Henrique and Andy Greene.
Adam Henrique is a key part of the future for the Devils. He is one of the few members of the current team that is signed long term. Henrique’s contract runs through the 2018-2019 season. Henrique is also just entering his prime. He will turn 26 halfway through this upcoming season. Last season Henrique led the team in points (43) and was tied for the team lead in assists with Scott Gomez (27). Henrique and Mike Cammalleri were the two bright spots on the Devils’ terrible offense. So Adam Henrique is one the Devils best offensive players and will be around for the foreseeable future. What other qualifications does he have? Probably the biggest reason Adam Henrique has for becoming captain is knowing the culture of winning. Henrique played a pivotal role in the 2012 playoffs scoring 2 series clinching goals en route to a Stanley Cup appearance. His career of winning goes farther back as he won back to back championships with the Windsor Spitfires. Henrique has been to the promised land. He knows what it takes to get there and can help teach the young core coming up around him about it. As Henrique becomes better the team around him will hopefully transition to a younger scoring core that Henrique can lead into the next successful period of Devils hockey.
Andy Greene would also make a great captain. Greene is 32 years old. He is a veteran and the Devils number 1 defenseman. The strength of the future Devils is our plethora of young defensive prospects. Andy Greene has the veteran leadership and the ability to mentor their progress. He meshed well with Damon Severson and Adam Larsson last year. Greene is coming off a down year with just 22 points last season. He did, however, play in all 82 games and was the Devils most consistent defender. And what can be said for Henrique and the 2012 playoffs can be said for Greene. Greene played on successful teams and knows how to act. He has been to the playoffs 5 times with the Devils. Andy Greene has 4 more years left on his contract. By the end of his contract would be the time to pass the number 1 defenseman job to another young d-man. Hopefully by that point Greene’s sage advice and leadership over the youthful defensive core will have elevated one of Severson, Larsson, Santini, etc. to an elite level. The Devils have been a team that is known for building from the back end up. So having our best defenseman as our captain would make sense.
These two players seem like the favorites for the next captaincy. Corey Schneider is the team MVP for sure but the taboo of having a goalie as a captain is too much to truly advocate for the idea. So the role falls to Henrique and Greene. Either choice comes with pros and cons. The most likely option is the Devils will have a feeling out period to start the season and pick a captain based on their play. After that its really anybody’s C. Greene probably has a leg up over Henrique due to his service time in the NHL. Still Henrique is a part of the future of our forwards who will definitely need a stabilizing leader. Only time will tell which one of these key members of the Devils franchise will get the C sown onto their jersey.