Chris Higgins was a great deadline deal for the Canucks and former GM Mike Gillis. His soldier like effort game in and game out made him a fan favorite and a great match for his coaches. He could be put anywhere in the lineup and produce. Well even though he has signed that nice little deal, there are cheaper options already making their mark and it looks like his time could be up.
Shawn Matthias has a lot of those same characteristics, 4 years younger and producing at a higher clip. Matthias I believe, has also been very impactful to Zack Kassian. While Kass was busy being healthy scratched, he had time to see how the power forward position is played. Driving to the net, playing along the boards and the sweet finishing touch has given Jim Benning an upgrade at the 7th forward. Jannik Hansen has seen plenty of time at that spot and the natural progression is taking place.
Because Kassian is so young, emulating that type of player can only benefit his game and might be the stepping stone he needs to get to the next level of his career. Matthias is a UFA this summer and Benning would be smart to keep him around. Every team needs its stars but they also need a solid bottom six and having Matthias heading up that area is good for business.
In 2011, when it all seemed to come together, Higgins and Maxim Lapierre were brought in at the deadline. Having those two experienced playoff performers put the Canucks over the top, well until Game 3 anyways. We uh, we lost the Cup after that. With Matthias here, he seems to be filling that role now.
With every game Bo Horvat plays he climbs up the depth chart; the emergence of Ronalds Kenins, as well as Kassian’s improvement, Higgins is being out youthed and simply outplayed. His ice time unfortunately doesn’t neccesarily dictate that but having to be paired with Radim Vrbata keeps him safe.
Eventually Brad Richardson comes back and Linden Vey and Derek Dorsett will flank his wings; Chris Higgins will really need to prove he still holds value in a Canucks jersey.
The Canucks didn’t need to make any moves this year and the term “stand pat” was used a bunch and if it’s one thing I love, it’s a good catch phrase. It sure says a lot about the future of the team when we still have Virtanen, McCann, Jensen and a good stable of picks. Benning wants to see this team through and didn’t want to jeopardize the future for a quick fix.
Higgins isn’t the only guy that most likely will be moved after this season and if for whatever reason the Nucks miss the spring dance, there is a boatload of talent in the top 15. Don’t be surprised if Bieksa and/or Hansen is moved as well, might be worth a hefty ransom.
Chris Higgins is still a very good player but at 31, and thats not old, his job can be done by a 25 year old. I’ll save the Ryan Miller debate for another day.
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Photo credit – metronews.ca