Canucks Roll Call is assessing every player who held a significant place in the fortunes of the 2021-22 Vancouver Canucks season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the recent campaign, as well as what the future holds for them in Vancouver. We’ve begun with the club’s free agents and today we feature forward Matthew Highmore.
Position: Left wing, right wing
2021-22 totals (GP-G-A-P): 46-5-7-12, 14 PIM
Contract Status: Restricted Free Agent (RFA) with arbitration rights coming off a two-year deal that paid him an average of $725,000 per season. The Halifax, Nova Scotia native was acquired in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks in April 2021 for Adam Gaudette.
Highmore followed a pattern that a remarkable number of Vancouver Canucks followed last season: Brief injury before Covid protocols, Covid protocols, in his case in February, and then a brief injury after protocols. Ding, ding, ding.
There are obvious similarities with steady linemate and penalty killing pal Juho Lammikko in that they helped establish Bruce Boudreau’s more aggressive forecheck mentality, while lacking as overall bottom-six offensive threats. Highmore has greater mobility and quickness than his Finnish pal, but is similar in that he’s not going to surprise anyone with his point totals.
That said, given a full NHL season of play, ten goals is an achievable mark. His five tallies this past campaign were a career high in 46 games.
Highmore is a lefty who offers the versatility of playing any forward position. He finished the season on the right side with center Brad Richardson and Jason Dickinson to his left.
There’s a certain edge, a hard-to-play against recklessness that Highmore offers in the physicality department, the kind any team would welcome. The question comes down to offensive contributions over a potential roster competitor.
He had two multi-point games, both two-pointers, one on January 13th in Tampa against the LIghtning and the same goal and assist combo at the New York Rangers on February 27th.
While he averaged just under a hit and a little less than a blocked shot a game, Highmore’s analytical numbers weren’t flattering, but similar to Lammikko, reflect the nature of the beast given the role they’re playing and the competition they sometimes face. Happy is the fact he stole ten more pucks than he gave away, unhappy was his 37% face-off percentage in very limited attempts.
What the future holds
One could see the 26-year-old hanging in for an upgrade to the Vancouver Canucks bottom six forwards, with versatility, physicality, mobility and a small offensive upside working in his favour.
Put it this way, at his price point, and you can say this for a majority in that range, there’s no reason not to qualify him. He offers up a solid option in the hit-or-miss world of NHL bottom-six, low salary worker bees and he should get a little raise.