Just when you thought the trade deadline was going to pass with Canucks general manager Mike Gillis doing nothing, he pulled off a pair of deals. The Canucks sent Evan Oberg and a 3rd round pick to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Chris Higgins. Gillis also acquired Maxim Lapierre and minor leaguer MacGregor Sharp (part of the all-name team) from the Anaheim Ducks for Joel Perreault and a 2013 3rd round pick.
Both of these deals caught me off-guard, as both of these players don’t seem to fit the Gillis mold for 4th line players. With that said, lets take a closer look at who these guys are:
Position: Left Wing
Contract: Last year of a deal that pays him $1.6 million. He’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Stats this year: Higgins has had a very underwhelming season. He has 11 goals and 12 assists in 48 games.
Career year: His best came 3 years ago, during the 2007-08 season with the Montreal Canadiens. That season he scored 27 goals and 25 assists in 82 games.
Playoff Pedigree: He doesn’t have a lot of playoff experience, playing in 22 games with the Canadiens. He has a respectable 11 points in those 22 games.
What he will bring: At the moment, I’m unsure. At the moment he is injured with broken thumb and should return in about two weeks. Once he returns, he’ll likely see time on the 4th line as a centre or on the wing (he has played centre before). It’s possible that he gets a chance to supplant Mason Raymond on the Canucks second line, but I doubt it.
Verdict: I’m afraid I don’t agree with this trade. I guess he presents a good insurance policy, but to give up a 3rd rounder for insurance? Seems a bit much. He just strikes me as a player doomed to be an underachiever. He doesn’t really play a 4th line type game, which is where they need the most help.
Contract: Last year of a $900,000 contract. He is a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
Stats this year: Splitting time between the Canadiens and Ducks, Lapierre has 11 points in 59 games.
Career year: He is not that far removed from his best season in 2008-09 with the Montreal Canadiens. That year he had 15 goals and 13 assists in 79 games.
Playoff Pedigree: He has 3 goals and 4 assists in 35 career playoff games, so he has some experience. He was on the Habs team that went to the Eastern Conference finals last season.
What he will bring: He will fill the void as the team’s fourth line centre and is an agitator. Canucks fans haven’t seen a sneer like his since Jarkko Ruutu left town.
Verdict: I love the fact that he’s a centre with some grit for the fourth line. The puzzling part is that he plays like Alex Burrows did a few years ago, he’s an agitator that takes bad penalties and dives. Gillis/Vigneault will have a hard time getting him to buy into not taking dumb penalties. Lapierre played for Alain Vigneault in junior, so that’s a good sign, they obviously know what they’re getting into. Overall I like this deal for this season and he’s a restricted free agent at the end of the season which means he’s not a rental player.