Monday, February 28, 2011

Canucks add Higgins/Lapierre at NHL Trade Deadline

The Vancouver Canucks have stocked up on forwards in advance of the NHL PLayoffs.  With this afternoon's NHL Trade Deadline having come and gone, Vancouver made two acquisitions to improve its forward ranks without losing anyone from their current roster.

The first deal by GM Mike Gills breaks down as follows:

To Anaheim: Joel Perrault, 3rd Round Draft Pick in 2011

The second deal breaks down as follows:

To Florida: Evan Oberg, 3rd Round Draft Pick in 2011
To Vancouver: Chris Higgins

Both deals add to the Canucks depth, and add size and some toughness/festiness.  In Lapierre, the Canucks gain a fourth line agitator with some size. Lapierre also plays center and is likely the Canucks answer for that much-discussed dilemma in the days and weeks leading up to the deadline.  In Higgins, the Canucks gain an enigmatic winger.  After three 20 goal seasons with Montreal, Higgins has bounced around a bit, failing to rediscover his scoring touch.  Both forwards add size and experience to the Canucks forward lines.

When GM Mike Gillis was asked in his press conference today how Higgins would feel about playing on a fourth line after being on a scoring line in Florida, Gillis stated that Higgins may not be on the fourth line.  That leaves the door open to Higgins replacing either Torres or Hansen on the third line, or potentially replacing Mason Raymond on the second line if Raymond's struggles continue, or if more size is needed in the top 6.

Higgins makes $1.6 million this season and is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at season's end.  Lapierre meanwhile makes $900k per year and is a Restricted Free agent (RFA) at season's end.  Gillis indicated a desire to retain both Lapierre and Higgins if they play well.  Of course, how demotivating would it be if GIllis told them he only wanted them for this year, so take it for what it's worth.

These deals are good for the Canucks.  Losing Michael Grabner in the offseason already hurt the Canucks depth at forward, as the Canucks lack young scoring prospects on the wings (Hodgson and Schroeder are centers).  Escaping the deadline without losing any picks in the top 60 and any roster players was certainly wise by Gillis. 

The team's line-up when healthy looks quite formidable:

D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Burrows
Raymond - Kesler - Samuelsson
Torres - Malhotra - Hansen
Higgins - Lapierre - Glass
(Tambellini, Oreskovich, Hodsgon, etc.)

Edler - Ehrhoff
Bieksa - Hamhuis
Ballard - Salo
(Alberts / Rome / Tanev)


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