If you thought the Canucks were going to be quiet...you were wrong.
Jim Benning got into the action on trade deadline day by trading Adam Gaudette to the Chicago Blackhawks for Matthew Highmore.
No picks coming back in the Gaudette for Highmore swap.#Canucks pro scouts are said to believe that Highmore has some untapped upside. Club is high on his speed and work rate.— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) April 12, 2021
Highmore is signed for next season on a one-way deal with a $725k cap hit.
No one ever said rebuilding the Sea of Granlunds would be easy. https://t.co/w8kW2EOy5b— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) April 12, 2021
Matthew Highmore is an undrafted 25 year old with two assists in 24 games this season. He profiles as a player who isn’t on the ice for as many chances and goals against as Gaudette, but he also has nowhere near as high of an offensive ceiling.
After registering 33 points in 59 games last season, Gaudette has been a disappointment this year. He lost his third-line centre role to an aging Brandon Sutter, and he seems to have regressed a bit after taking a step forward last season.
That being said, Gaudette has been unlucky as well. He’s one of the league-leaders at even-strength in terms of individual scoring chances.
He’s not a perfect player, but he has a ceiling than Highmore.
Adam Gaudette has had his ups and downs, but he is a much, much better player than Matthew Highmore.— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) April 12, 2021
I’m not the biggest Adam Gaudette truther, I think his two-way game is too much of a liability for him to be an impact player, but if Highmore is the only piece coming back, then it’s safe to say the #Canucks sold quite low— Harman Dayal (@harmandayal2) April 12, 2021
Part of this deal was likely made from a cap savings perspective. If the Canucks either didn’t want to bring back Gaudette, or thought they couldn’t get him at a price that they like, then it made sense to ship him out.
However, it’s hard to argue with Harman’s take that the Canucks sold low — especially after Gaudette scored at a second-line rate last season.
Highmore is a cost-effective player. He’s signed for next season at a cap hit of $725,000.
However, is he actually an effective player?
His 0.91 points per 60 suggest that he’s a replacement level player offensively. His career expected goals-for percentage of 44.8% is only marginally better than Gaudette’s 43.9% career expected-goals for.
Also, do the Canucks know that Highmore isn’t actually a centreman?
Highmore has taken nine faceoffs (two wins, seven losses) in 74 career NHL games.
One of the only things that might work in Highmore’s favour is that statistically, he’s an okay penalty killer. He’s got the lowest expected goals against of any regular penalty killing Blackhawks forward. However, he’s also only averaged 28 seconds per game on the kill, so it’s quite possible that his numbers are inflated by facing second unit power plays.
At the end of the day, this looks like a deal where Benning sold low on Gaudette — a struggling player, to take a flyer on someone with a lower ceiling, and quite possible someone who’s a worse player.