The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey community. Eight writers and 320 readers ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2018 in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.
Nick Henry’s 2016-17 season with the Regina Pats built a name for himself in the hockey world. The Pats dominated the WHL regular season, earning 112 points in the 72 game season. Henry, on a stacked lineup, ranked second in the WHL in rookie scoring that year, with 81 points.
This past season, Henry didn’t light up the lamp as many times — only compiling 29 points — but he passed his first significant test of adversity as a professional prospect.
A fourth round pick by the Avalanche in 2017, Henry missed seven weeks at the start of the 17-18 CHL season after off-season shoulder surgery. Upon his return midway through the season, Henry and star centerman Sam Steel (an Anaheim prospect) struggled to recreate the top-line magic that they had in the prior season. Between Henry’s injury recovery and a revolving door at left wing, the offense just wasn’t as fruitful. Late in the year, at the start of the WHL Playoffs, Henry regained his top form and impressed once again.
In a May round-robin game against the Swift Current Broncos, Henry scored a hat trick. The first came on a power play one-time snap shot from the left faceoff dot, the second goal on a short-handed two-on-one with Steel, then the third was on a nearly impossible angle from the left goal-line, again assisted by Steel.
The Mile High Hockey community was a bit more bullish on Henry than the writers, with the modal reader ranking being #20 among Avalanche youngsters.
The concern for Henry is that he doesn’t have a natural fit into an NHL roster. He’s a fine skill player, and has demonstrated an ability to both be a sniper and a playmaker at times for the Pats, but he’s a tad undersized at 6-foot-0 and 190 pounds. He could be one of those tweener skill players that are better than many NHL third and fourth liners, but don’t have the size and physicality, nor the penalty killing ability to justify a roster spot in one of those roles.
Fortunately for Henry, the league is trending more toward lineups with speed in all four lines. Skating ability is an asset for Henry, as is his shooting and vision. His shot was strong enough that he played primarily on his off-wing in power play situations. He had noticeably one of the best shots at Avalanche Development Camp this year. At this point, it is fair to consider his NHL future to become a possible third-line, second-PP sniper.
One key developmental focus is still going to be board play and his defensive stickwork.
Henry is expected to compete with the Pats for one more season before likely going to the Colorado Eagles in 2019-20. He’s now fully healthy. Expect a statistical output that more closely resembles that of his rookie year in Regina.