Chris Higgins is a left wing/center for the Montreal Canadiens, a struggling team that’s in a dogfight to make the playoffs in its Centennial season (no pressure there!). The Canadiens are a franchise with a lot of needs and some salary cap problems.
Higgins is 6-0, 205 pounds. He can skate, he can hit and he has pretty good hands. In his previous three NHL seasons, he had 27, 23 and 22 goals. In this setback and injury-plagued year he has just 8 goals and 7 assists for 15 points in 35 games.
If Higgins was having a great season, he would not be available. For the right deal, he is available.
Chris Higgins, all of 25 years old, was raised in Smithtown, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. Okay, so he supposedly grew up a Canadiens fans. Big whoop. He also hangs out on the Island in the summer with DiPietro.
Brendan Witt for Higgins is not a do-able deal. Neither is Witt plus a draft pick. This would likely have to be a lot more complicated, with more salary coming back to the Islanders, some ability going back to the Canadiens. But Higgins to the Islanders, with a little creativity, is not out of the question.
As we mentioned, Higgins – a restricted free agent this summer - has scored more than 20 goals each of the last three seasons. That may not put him in the All-Star Game, but let’s be real: that would have made him a legend, a local hero around these parts. However, a glimpse just to the right of the goal column finds his assist totals: 25 (last season), 16 and 15.
So last season Higgins had 52 points. This year is a down year. His first two years in the league he had 38 points each. Not bad.
But is Chris Higgins, at 25, a developing player who will continue to get better? (After all, this is just his 4th NHL season after two years at Yale and one in the American League). Or is it possible he is merely a solid, 40-50 point player? And if that’s the case, can you trade for him and put him on the board on your second line? His width is okay, but don’t you wish your next Islanders acquisition was closer to 6-3?
The last thing the Islanders need is another third-line player they try to masquerade as a lot more. The last thing the Islanders need to do is – like my Yankees of the early ’90s – sign a .500 pitcher and wonder why he’s not winning 20 games for them. But that’s just the cynical side. That’s why in our second segment of You Play GM, you have to make the call.
Here’s ours. Seems to us 25-year old Christopher Higgins of Smithtown would be both a bold and effective stroke for the rebuild. Seems to us he’d look good in an Islanders uniform alongside Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Sean Bergenheim, Blake Comeau, Frans Nielsen, Trent Hunter and the team’s first pick in the 2009 draft.
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