This morning, the Flames announced that they will be bringing in veteran left winger Chris Higgins to training camp on a PTO. This will be Higgins’ second stint with the team, having been previously acquired in the trade that sent Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust to the Rangers. This is the Flames’ second PTO of the year, the first having been used on Jamie Devane
Higgins is probably being brought in as a reclamation project, as his glory days are certainly behind him. A regular 30-40 point scorer, his totals dropped off in Vancouver, and he spent significant time last year with the Utica Comets. Earlier this summer, the Canucks bought out his contract after failing to trade him.
If you’re an optimist, you’re hoping that he rediscovers his old game, though his underlying metrics have not been positive. Last year, he had the best zone starts of his career (32% OZS) but posted the worst FF60 (36.03) and FA60 (45.88) he’s ever had. His PDO was 95.9, so perhaps he could rebound, but his fancystats over the past three years indicate he’s on the downslide. Thomas Drance, Managing Editor of the Nations Network, suggests that perhaps Higgins’ struggles are injury related.
Until last year Higgins was an elite PK guy + produced 5on5 offense at a credible 2nd-line rate. Broke his foot 1st game of 2015 preseason.
— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) August 30, 2016
It’s unlikely Higgins stays with the team any longer than training camp. There’s already plenty of 3/4 line players on the roster. If Higgins proves to be more effective than one of them (cough cough Bollig cough), the next question becomes how they will afford him. He’ll be cheap, but there will almost be no space cap wise (pending Johnny re-signing) or roster wise (already at 14 forwards, assuming Shinkaruk and Tkachuk at least start the season in Calgary).
Realistically, Higgins will be a body to fill out the training camp roster. League rules require that teams play eight veteran forwards every preseason game (16 for split squad day). Adding Higgins means that the team doesn’t have to lean extensively on Tkachuk or Bennett, and also allows the team to rotate the roster to keep players fresh. That will likely be the extent of his contributions for the Flames this year.