Getting Higgy With It

Continuing in the theme of former Flames players who are still playing into mid-May, today we look at a guy who didn’t have much more than a cup of coffee in Calgary.  Much like Ian White in San Jose, Vancouver’s Chris Higgins has been a much traveled man over the past two seasons, with stints in New York and Florida to go along with his Canadian stops.  Now a conference finalist with the Canucks, Higgins has proved to be a very important addition, something those who watched him here shouldn’t be surprised at.

This article is not to bemoan a poor Flames decision to not bring Higgins back, because to be honest, in talking with him on last years green garbage bag day, I got the impressions returning to Calgary was not high on his priority list.  So, I don’t believe Darryl Sutter dropped the ball on that one, because short of a stupid contract, Higgins wasn’t long for a Flames jersey.  But he is certainly proving to be valuable in Vancouver.

In signing a one year deal with the Florida Panthers in the offseason, Higgins almost guaranteed a good return in comparison to his $1.6 million cap hit.  While only posting three points in 12 games with the Flames before injury finished off his 2009-10 campaign, watching Higgins play in person showed why he’s been a 20 goal scorer on three seperate occasions.  With decent speed and a large frame, he was able to form a nice compliment on Daymond Langkow’s flank, providing another option in the two-way game. 

Unfortunately, some bad luck and cruel percentages have seen his goal and point totals go way down, which is why Florida was able to snag him at a bargain basement price.  Looking at his body of work in 48 games with the Panthers, you can’t argue he was a good signing.  But a team going in a different direction was going to make some changes at the deadline, which is exactly what Florida did, dealing Higgins to Vancouver for Evan Oberg and a 2013 third rounder.

Analyzing Chris’s regular season is pretty impressive however, as both Peter DeBoer and Alain Vigneault had no problem deploying him defensively; he finished his 62 game season with a 46.3% offensive zone start, with 48 games spent in Florida.  Seeing his Corsi number up above 11 is extremely impressive, and it’s further proof that Higgins is a guy that can give you solid setup minutes on the second or third line.

Playing much of his time with Ryan Kesler helps even more, but he’s also a very good foil for the likely Selke winner.  Again, it’s unfair to say the Flames made a mistake by not bringing him back, because Higgins wanted to move on as a UFA forward coming off a dreadful season in terms of counting numbers.  But he’s a good player, and he’s been an important addition in Vancouver.

  • I liked higgins a lot when he was a flame and I was sad to see him go. It’s true he didn’t put up good numbers but every single game he competed as hard or harder than anyone on the ice. He’s a type of player that I feel like will almost never hurt your team.

    • icedawg_42

      Yeah – I have to agree with you here – watching him here I always thought he was “almost there”. I was disappointed but not surprised when he opted not to return.

      • As I recall, something about wanting to play for a contender / not play in Canada… good one Chris. He was probably thrown in the deal that sent him out to Calgary, didn’t want to be there, and played as such.

        Dutter probably low balled him too… $2.999M, just short of that $3M.

  • dustin642

    Good article and Higgins is a great player and everything, but for my own sanity’s sake, can you guys never use another photo of a happy smiling Vancouver Canuck player on this site? Its bad enough they are still playing hockey but to come on to flamesnation and see a happy Canuck is hard to handle. Maybe pictures of them falling down or being checked into the boards? Aside from that, great stuff! 😉

  • Word was thet Higgins wanted to return out East as he’s a NY native. He might erase that desire to stay in VAN, depending on their results this post-season though. The chance to win can trump those desires.

    • The other thing is Kent, he wanted to go somewhere a little more off the radar to try and get back to form. He suffered such bad luck last year that his confidence was totally shaken…I remember talking to him after a game last season and he was just baffled at how things were not clicking for him.

      Florida was a good choice for him in that respect.

  • At this point I think anyone who really wanted to be on a contender would have to go with Van over the eastern teams (with possible exceptions of Wsh or Pit), whether they make it any further in the playoffs or not this year.

  • Great article on Higgy. I am glad Vancouver knows how to use him, unlike what happend in Calgary.

    So Detroit or San Jose, I hope the Sharks win. Floppy Joe and Patricia Marleau have zero heart. The Nucks can still beat the Wings, but why take the hard road to the finals?

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/news?slug=calgh-ca-4775665

    The link is to an article by Vicki Hall, in the Herald, about Noodles turning down a job with the Heat.

    I’ve always liked Noodles. He seems like a good guy. I hope he does well.

    Vicki also mentions that she expects Jay to be named the GM before the draft, and that Brent will sign an extension as well. I hope she’s wrong about Jay, and I hope the new GM watches what Brent can do on his own for a year before deciding on an extension.