The Vancouver Canucks have traded forward Adam Gaudette to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forward Matthew Highmore. Gaudette, who came out of COVID-19 protocol Sunday, scored 52 points (21 goals, 31 assists) in 153 games for the Canucks and was set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Chicago-based radio host Jay Zawaski reported that Gaudette carries a $950,000 cap hit, while Highmore has one year remaining on his contract.
Highmore has registered zero goals and two assists this season, and he has often played on Chicago’s bottom six. The 25-year-old has ten points (four goals, six assists) in three seasons with the Blackhawks and has failed to make a significant impact on the team. Highmore’s low statistics may indicate that he is struggling in the NHL, but he showed a strong work ethic and eye for goal while he was playing in the AHL. The Canucks can give Highmore a big chance to develop as a hockey player, and he has the potential to be a useful member of the roster.
Highmore Showed Quality as a Junior Player
Highmore was passed over twice in the NHL draft, and he spent his entire junior career playing for the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL (Québec Major Junior Hockey League). He showed offensive dominance and leadership abilities during his time in Saint John, eventually being named an alternate captain of the team for the 2014-15 season. His final two seasons in the QMJHL proved to be his most productive, as he led the Sea Dogs in points. He scored 75 points (22 goals, 53 assists) in the 2014-15 season, and he recorded 89 points (34 goals, 55 assists) in his final junior season. His high scoring did not go unnoticed, and the Blackhawks signed him to an entry-level contract.
Highmore has split his time between the Blackhawks and the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL and made a strong impression for the IceHogs in his rookie season, scoring 43 points in 64 games (24 goals, 19 assists). He received some playing time with the Blackhawks in the 2017-18 season and scored two goals in 13 games. Highmore was named an alternate captain of the IceHogs in 2018 in recognition of his hard work, and he set his sights on becoming a regular member of the Blackhawks.
The QMJHL provided Highmore a basis for his hockey career, and he showed signs of being a good forward. His ability to transition between centre and wing, his eye for goal and his technique helped him to become a powerful player. He continued to excel in the AHL and was subsequently rewarded with call-ups to the Blackhawks.
Blackhawks Spoke Highly of Highmore
Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton praised Highmore during the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, with Chicago beating Edmonton 4-1 in the series. Colliton complemented Highmore’s style of play, praising the forward’s effort and ability to drive towards the net. He scored four points (three goals, one assist) in nine post-season games and seemed to work well with his linemates. Chicago was eventually eliminated from the playoffs after losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round.
Highmore has had a scoring instinct since his days as a junior player, and his dual-threat style of play allows him to interchange between the centre of the ice and the wing. He may prove to be a good pick-up for the Canucks, especially as he can add an offensive dynamic to the bottom six. He’s still a young player who has the determination and drive to play, and his efficient level of work can help the Canucks bottom six to gain some offense.