Henrique aiming for early February return

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Good thing Ilya Kovalchuk is coming back or the Devils might have been seriously shorthanded to start the season.

Instead, they’ll just be semi-seriously shorthanded.

Having already lost Zach Parise to free agency over the summer, New Jersey will also be without 22-year-old center Adam Henrique (thumb) until at least early February.

“It’s coming along. I haven’t started skating yet,” Henrique said, per The Star-Ledger. “Right now I’m just working out and going to therapy every day to just get the motion back and to get the strength back. We need to make sure we take the time to get it where it needs to be so I can play the same way I played before.”

Henrique’s 51 points put him fourth in team scoring in 2011-12, his first season in the NHL.

On the bright side, the Devils will have a “100 percent” healthy Travis Zajac after going without the 27-year-old center (torn left Achilles tendon) for all but 15 games of the 2011-12 regular season.

Related: Henrique gets his cast off