Who Is This Guy?
Chris Higgins. The Professor. Kiss Huggins (no, no, no, no), Higgy. The guy who plays like he smoked a bowl of crack before game time. The fearless wonder. The forechecking wizard. My new favorite Canuck.
Position: Left Wing
Weight: 203 pounds (or less, depending on staph infection)
Born: June 2, 1983 in Smithstown, New York
Drafted: 14th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2002 Entry Draft.
What Did He Do?
Did any Canucks player spend more combined time on the 2nd and 3rd lines than Chris Higgins? I doubt it. He's such a versatile player. He played a shut down role and contributed offensively. Whether he was on the AMEX Line or the HHH Line or the newer Hansen - Pahlsson - Higgins line he did his job and showed a lot of ambition at more times than probably any Canuck not named Jannik Hansen.
Putting his time on ice into perspective: Higgins averaged 13:24 even strength TOI per game (6th on the team among the forwards). He averaged 1:42 power play TOI / G (7th among the forwards). His 1:11 average shorthanded TOI / G was 6th among the forwards. His overall TOI per game average was 16:18, which was 5th among Canucks forwards.
Was He Any Good?
Like I said above, not many other Canucks showed the consistent ambition and drive that Higgins did. The guy stood out, all the damned time. Higgins played 71 games, missing time for TWO staph infections in his feet, BUT he still managed to score 18 goals (4th on the team), 25 assists (7th on the team) and 43 points (7th on the team). He finished a +11. His 16 penalty minutes is impressive considered how physical he plays. That 16 PIM total was 4th least on the team among players who played more than 20 games. His 4 game winners ranked him 4th on the team. Only the Sedins and Burrows had more of those. 2 of those winners were in OT:
Chris Higgins on the tip!
Higgins not only ties it, he wins it:
NHL.com has Higgins lower in hits (61) and even blocked shots (29), which surprises me, but look who led the team in takeaways.
If you want to check out his CORSI, Quality of Competition etc etc stats you can see them here at Behind The Net.
More good about Higgins? His 2011-12 campaign was the second best output of his career.
Higgins had 2 solid hot streaks this past season:
-From November 26 to December 17 he scored 2 goals and added 8 assists in 8 games.
-From March 6 to March 17 he scored 1 goal and 5 assists in 5 games.
What I Didn't Like
Those 2 hot streaks above account for 16 of his 43 points. I was going to heckle him for being streaky, which he generally is. But if you look at his game-to-game stats he more or less distributed his points somewhat evenly. The biggest problem is that his worst cold streak happened in a 7 game span: the last 2 games of the regular season and the whole Los Angeles series. He was a -2 and had 15 shots in those 7 games.
What's up with the staph infections in his foot? He has had that problem 3 times in the last 2 years! I've never had one but it sure sounds miserable. Kudos for Higgins for battling through it. It seems that he has found the proper medication for it.
So, What Now?
Chris Higgins has 1 year remaining on his $1.9 million contract. In my opinion he is worth every penny. Where does he fit in the Canucks lineup? Pretty much how he did this season. Pretty good on Line 2, but really good playing with Jannik Hansen and whatever center on Line 3. Like I said before...he's versatile. Now let's see how he does in a contract year. My guess is about the same output we saw out of him this past season, perhaps a little better.
Did You Know...
-In June of 2009, Higgins, along with Ryan McDonaugh, Pavel Valentenko and Doug Janik were traded by the Canadiens to the Rangers for Scott Gomez (bahahaha), Tom Pyatt and Michael Busto. He was a restricted free agent at the time, and the Rangers signed him to a 1 year, $2.25 million contract. Ironically, look who he scored his first goal as a Ranger against:
Why you little...bah the Rangers lost that one 4-1. You know, back when they sucked.
-Higgins struggled to score with the Rangers and in February 2010 was traded (along with Ales Kotalik) to the Calgary Flames for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust.
-Higgins signed a 1-year $1.6 million deal with the Florida Panthers as an unrestricted free agent in July 2010.
-In February 2011 (trade deadline, the Canucks were rumored to be chasing a different Panthers player at the time-my guess would be David Booth) the Canucks traded Evan Oberg and a 3rd round pick in 2013 for Higgins.
-Higgins meshed with the team almost right away when he joined them in March after his hand injury healed and had a solid playoff run.
-The Canucks signed him to a 2-year $3.8 million deal that summer, giving him a $300,000 raise.
-Higgins plays his best hockey against Calgary, bless his heart. See?
Here's hoping Higgins can have an injury-free, successful 2012-13 season with the Canucks. Thanks for the continued efforts, Professor!