Adam Henrique hints towards a return with the Oilers next season

After what turned out to be a successful trade to the Edmonton Oilers, Adam Henrique admits he's at a point in his career where his priorities have changed.
2024 Stanley Cup Final - Game Five
2024 Stanley Cup Final - Game Five / Elsa/GettyImages

After going all-in for their pursuit of the Stanley Cup, the Edmonton Oilers finding themselves in an extremely tough position. While no one would disgree with their approach -- which fell agonisingly short of the desired goal -- they now face almost mission impossible when it comes to their roster makeup.

At the time of writing, the Oilers have 10 unrestricted and two restricted free agents to contend with. And, as per Cap Friendly, they have only $10,033,333 of projected cap space for next season.

Near the top of the list of those the Oilers would most like to bring back, is Adam Henrique. Following his trade from the Anaheim Ducks (via the Tampa Bay Lightning), the forward gave the Oilers just what they required.

Henrique's invaluable contributions

Yes Henrique's points-rate dropped after arriving in Edmonton, compared to what he'd accomplished up to that point this season in Ahaheim. Regardless, he provided the Oilers' top-six with what was required particularly during the playoffs, with his invaluable ability to react well to pressure situations and adversity.

Critics may point to Henrique's age as a negative. However, the reality is that at 34-year-old's he's coming off one of his best ever season's in the NHL as a whole, including equalling a career-high with 51 points and setting a new personal best of a +8 rating.

And after coming so close to finally winning the Stanley Cup in his 14th season of NHL action, Henrique appears to have had a shift in his priorities. When asked by the media on Wednesday about what he wants to do, he said: "There’s a price for winning. Being on a team like Edmonton that’s so close, and year after year now, the Stanley Cup is the goal. For me coming in, it renews the passion in the game a bit. I haven't had the opportunity to be in the playoffs for a long time and have that opportunity to win, so for me as far as dollars go, there's an understanding that it might cost a bit. But whatever that is, it could be worth it in the end."

Henrique continued: "So for me, I don't think trying to prioritise for myself and for my family what is the most important thing moving forward will be key. We've got to get home and have some discussion with everyone and go from there, but certainly I don't think money is the number one thing for me at this point in my career and where I'm at."

Making it work financially for both sides

Certainly this is encouraging news for the Oilers and their fans, at least when considering Henrique's salary cap hit this season of $5.825 million. The question is, how much of a team-friendly discount is he realistically prepared to take, no matter the extent of his wish to make sure he plays for a contender in 2024-25?

For example, AFP Analytics has Henrique projected to make an annual average of just under $4.305 million on his next deal, with three years of term. This would clearly still be too much for the Oilers, given their aforementioned current projected cap space for the 2024-25 campaign.

There is optimism in some quarters, that the Brantford, Ontario native will take even less, potentially with the compromise of increased term. As per the Edmonton Journal's David Staples, Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now hopes the player will re-sign in the $2 million range.

The key word in that last sentence though is 'hope', which alludes to Stauffer possibly being a little bit too optimistic. Although one solution could be to take the Connor Brown approach, in order to get Henrique to accept a base salary of around $2 million for next season.

In other words, this could be boosted by offering a bonus structure similar to Brown's for this season, with any bonus for Henrique carrying over to the salary cap for the 2025-26 campaign. With more projected cap space for that season -- albeit with also considerably less players on the roster as things stand -- it could be feasible.

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Overall, the Oilers have plenty of hoops to jump through, if they are going to get everything sorted out and end up with a roster similar to this season, i.e. one which can genuinely contend again for the Stanley Cup. However, if nothing else, it sure sounds like Henrique will be as reasonable as possible to help with the situation, albeit with no guarantees.

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