Unfortunately, what’s done is done, and we can only move on and see if Highmore can provide the team with some semblance of value moving forward. On the surface, he’s a vastly inferior player to Gaudette offensively, as Highmore only has 10 points in his entire career and just two in 24 games this season.
It should also be noted that he’s a pure winger since some sites labelled him as a centre for some reason.
Due to him being an offensive black hole, Highmore’s value comes largely on the defensive end, but he’s not exactly elite on that end of the ice either. This year, the Blackhawks have given up 2.15 goals against per hour with him on the ice at five on five, according to Natural Stat Trick. That mark is good for sixth on Vancouver for players who’ve played over 150 minutes at five on five this season, so Highmore represents a defensive upgrade over many Canucks players.
However, that number might’ve been aided by some luck, as Chicago was instead expected to concede 2.42 goals per 60 minutes with him playing. Fortunately, only Zack MacEwen has a lower expected goals against per hour mark than Highmore does for all Canucks skaters with the previous minutes requirement, so he’d still give the team a defensive boost even if he does regress somewhat.
We can also see his on-ice impact using graphs provided by HockeyViz:
The bottom chart shows his expected goals against compared to the league average and the top one is his expected goals for. To summarize, Highmore is roughly an average defensive player but a negative on offence, and he’ll most likely spend his time on the ice whenever Vancouver has a faceoff in their own zone.
Although Highmore has only played 11 shorthanded minutes this season, don’t be surprised if he ends up on the Canucks’ penalty kill either, as that’s where the team would’ve like to deploy Gaudette had it not been the latter’s defensive deficiencies.
Ultimately, Highmore will likely play on Vancouver’s bottom line as a defensive and penalty-killing specialist whenever he does suit up for the team. His strengths are reminiscent of that of Tyler Motte’s, although at a lower level and without the offensive prowess of Motte.
What do you think, Canucks fans? Did the team sell low on Gaudette? Let us know in the comments below!