October 15, 2015
When the Colorado Avalanche drafted small center T.J. Hensick 88th overall in 2005, they probably had no idea he would emerge as a top prospect just two years later.
Hensick, a native of Lansing, Michigan, would cap off his four year career at the University of Michigan by leading the nation in scoring with 69 points in the 2006-07 season. He then added some spectacular play in the NCAA playoffs. Yet - inexplicably - he was not on the final top three Hobey Baker ballot as the NCAA's top player that season.
Hensick was small at just 5'10" and 185 pounds, and he disappeared in heavy games as a pro. But he was a considerable talent with his crafty puck skills and deceiving shot. His biggest skill was his impressive skating ability with high end speed and the ability to turn on a dime with the puck. He also had impressive anticipation, particularly in the offensive zone where he would often appear out of nowhere to pick off passes and quickly turn that into a scoring chance. His defensive game was not so blessed with such anticipation, which landed him in the coach's doghouse at the pro level.
Unfortunately for Hensick it never worked out for him at the NHL level. He would play about 100 games with the Avs in his first three seasons as a pro, but mustered only 11 goals and 24 assists. He was another one of the many players who simply were not going to excel as a bottom six forward, so if he was not creating offense on one of the top two lines, he was not being effective.
In the summer of 2010 Colorado traded Hensick to the St. Louis Blues. He would play 13 more NHL games with the Blues, adding another goal and two assists, before being buried in the minor leagues.