Chris Higgins waived to be bought out

Chris Higgins saw a massive production decline this past season – and as a result, the Canucks are parting ways. 

It was confirmed on Monday afternoon that the Canucks have placed Higgins on unconditional waivers. Once he clears, the two parties will be allowed to mutually terminate his contract with the team, which was set to expire at the end of the 2016-17 season. 

The buyout will cost the Canucks $833,333 per season over each of the next two years, both in actual money paid to Higgins and in value counting against the salary cap. 

The decision to buy out the veteran Higgins was expected for the Canucks; the team tried to trade him mid-season (going as far as to publicly announce that the team was shopping him and his contract), then waiving him and relegating him to the AHL’s Utica Comets. 

Still, it’s a disappointing end to his tenure in Vancouver. 

From a possession standpoint – and even from a scoring standpoint – Higgins can best be described as ‘still useful, but noticeably declining’. 

His two-way play has taken a hit, and three goals, four points in 33 regular season games is at best a slump – and at worst a sign that the final year of his deal would have paid $2.5 million for a press box regular. He produced at a lower middle-six level over the middle two years of the four year deal he was on, with his numbers leaning towards fourth liner status by the time he was sent to the AHL. 

If the Canucks were committed to a rebuild, keeping Higgins around for the final year may have been warranted. After all, he’s a good locker room veteran who worked hard in games and could have helped ease the transition to a new roster. 

The team seems more like they want to try and push for the postseason, though – and with limited cap space as it is, buying Higgins out was really their only good option. They freed up around $1.67 million in flexibility with the move, which should help them try and entice free agents. 



  • Vanoxy

    Sad, but necessary. He was a warrior during the glory days, so this is hard to see.

    Hopefully he catches on somewhere. Maybe Columbus, Torts was always a fan…

    I was actually hoping they could swing a Higgins/Hartnell trade, maybe including the 2nd rounder they owe us for signing Torts. Fresh starts for 2 veterans, Cap relief for CBJ and player who could fill a need for The Nucks.

    • Cageyvet

      Why the hell would the Canucks deal Hig for Hartnell? Hartnell has a few years left and is almost double the salary. Stupid.

      It’s sad to see Higgins leave on these terms but he isn’t the player he used to be. I think he’s still better than what he showed last year but the decline has started (a lot of last season was recovering from the broken foot and getting up to speed).

      Honestly, doing the same to Burr isn’t a bad idea but the cap hit for next year is a bit of a deterrence.

      • detox

        “Why the hell would the Canucks deal Hig for Hartnell? Hartnell has a few years left and is almost double the salary. Stupid.”

        If Columbus looked at it as a salary dump and he didn’t cost us anything, and we got a Hartnell that produced at 50pts per season (20 goals per and we need scoring) for his remaining 3 seasons… I don’t think that would be so stupid.

        Hoping Burr is better this season, heard his rib injury impacted his off season workouts last year.

        • Rolland

          He’s currently 34 and on for 3 more years. He’s a physical player. Do you think he can sustain the production? I sure don’t. Does it make sense on a rebuilding team? Not really.

          Honestly, I’d also buy out Burr. He is my favorite Canuck but his time has come.

          Gillis left this team a burning tire fire. I’d hope for Stamkos but I don’t see him wanting to come here. The Canucks lack direction, have an interfering owner and Benning seems to overpay players. Benning also seems to have issues flipping assets (Hansen, Hamhuis, Vrbata) and I don’t know if he’s a savvy negotiator. Too many questions to draw in key free agents.

      • Vanoxy

        Hartnell is a productive player, good for 20+ goals and plays with an edge. He is only available because CBJ are against the cap and need to re-sign Jones.

        Higgins has negative value at this point, as he’s about to eat up almost a mil in cap space for 2 years, just to go away and NOT play for us…

        Turning a borderline NHLer on the verge of a buyout, into a legitimate NHLer, is a solid move, and means they only need to pursue one UFA forward instead of 2.

        The Nucks have Cap space and should exploit teams that don’t.

        A great GM will use his leverage to his advantage. A mediocre GM will just throw that cap space at UFAs and end up on the hook in 3 years when guys like Lucic are washed up and have 4 years left at $7mil.

        Give me Hartnell, for 3 more years at $5mil vs Lucic at 7 for 7 any day. Plus, we save the Higgins buyout cost…

  • LTFan

    Liked Higgins and it is sad to see him go. It is not so much that he is leaving it is how it played out. Going forward, wish him good luck in playing somewhere else in the NHL.

  • Bud Poile

    Admired Higgy as he exemplified work ethic as a blue collar warrior.

    Hockey treated him well: Beautiful home,tens of million$ in the bank and a gorgeous wife to show for that humungous bank account.

    His dad is a firefighter and brother a cop so he knows he has led a charmed life.

    • Cageyvet

      It says that you play in the NHL, a league with a salary cap. Review JD’s articles on numerous unclaimed waiver wire vets last season. The Canucks have plenty of company in dumping veterans who are easily replaced with cheaper, younger players with remaining upside. There’s no gain in hanging on to declining assets.

  • Rolland

    Declining but still has his uses, great penalty killer and sound defensively. Hello Las Vegas perhaps? Always like the guy, he served Vancouver well and never complained about anything. I doubt his career is over.

  • Rolland

    The end of professional athletes’ careers are often messy, depressing affairs, with accomplished and once-valued players being pushed ever further down the bench and ultimately out the door.

    But sports teams are businesses and there is often no good way to do it. The old must make way for the young.

  • Rolland

    With all the trade for picks/buyout focus on Burrows and Higgins I think the more obvious move is to find a way to move Dorsett. At a combined cap hit of 5.15 mil moving Dorsett and Higgins makes more sense. Assuming that Etem is re-signed for approx 1 million and Vey is waived/traded/sent down and Pedan is re-upped in the 800,000-1,000,000 range that leaves a cap hit of around 60.5mil (including bonus carryover and Luongo’s hit). This amount of room allows for the team to carry Burrows salary (allowing him to retire a canuck, maybe get into coaching in the organization, or if he feels he has more to give, get a little something for him at next season’s TDL) and it’s not as if having a guy like that in your bottom six is gonna hurt you. It also allows for Benning to actually do what his stated intentions are (top six forward AND top nine two-way player) as well as allowing the luxury of sending JV down to Utica if he needs it or to give Rodin a chance to contribute without too many immediate expectations.

    Now, whether or not such a thing is actually doable without shooting oneself in the foot is arguable but it leaves the roster and the hit approx. this:

    Top Nine Forwards

    Sedin/Sedin/Hansen/Sutter/Horvat/Baertschi/Virtanen(or Rodin)

    = 24.5 mil + the two top nine spots Benning wants to fill

    Bottom Roster Forwards

    Here I’m going to assume that, despite rumblings to the contrary, the team is going to go with 14 forwards so that the depth part of the forward roster looks like this:

    Burrows/Granlund or Gaunce (a personal favourite of mine) /Etem or Rodin (I can even envision Virtanen on the fourth if Rodin shows well and Utica isn’t a workable option)

    = 8.25 mil for a depth squad that should acquit itself reasonably well

    Defense

    Who knew we would be reasonably set at defence at the top end with a developing logjam in the depth part?

    Edler/Tanev/Hutton/Gudbranson/Sbisa(not sold on him at all but there are reasons do keep him for another season)/Tryamkin/Pedan(or ?)

    = 19 mil

    Goal

    Pretty straightforward here:

    Miller/Markstrom

    = 7.5 mil

    Extras

    You can’t buy strombones, but you can pay them $800,000 not to be here. Add in the $315,000 bonus carryover and the hit at 60.5 million may leave enough room for Benning to make his wish list a reality.

    I realize that some fans feel that you need a guy like Dorsett to ‘keep the other team honest’ but he was never really ideally suited to that role and the league has left his type of player behind. He is, however, still a sandpapery tweener with experience and in all likelihood will still find a place in the bigs if we shop him hard enough.

    P.S.

    With apologies to the handful of Dorsett fans out there (apparently, they’re real).

    Edit:

    The extra $833,333 cap hit makes it a little more challenging, but still workable?

    • detox

      “I realize that some fans feel that you need a guy like Dorsett to ‘keep the other team honest’ but he was never really ideally suited to that role and the league has left his type of player behind. He is, however, still a sandpapery tweener with experience and in all likelihood will still find a place in the bigs if we shop him hard enough.”

      we are a soft team with Dorsett in the lineup, and if we take him out we will see toilet paper commercials starring our forward group, extolling our softness.

      Dorsett will be around until he can be replaced, and likely exposed to Vegas in their draft.

      I’d move Sbisa before Dorsett, but I think the difference is Sbisa has been replaced, Dorsett hasn’t.

      Which forwards on our club go out of their way to finish a check or at least initiate body contact? Dorsett, JV
      Which forwards seldom check? Sedins, Hansen, Burrows, Bo, Sutter, Etem, Sven, Granlund, Gaunce…

      am I wrong?
      (after the Calgary series, it was evident we needed some more sandpaper in the lineup, don’t know why people want to get rid of what little we have)

  • Vanoxy

    I hear what you are saying Detox but I see it a little differently.

    On defence, we now have a level of snarl previously lacking: Gudbranson’s main job is to be hard hitting and a pain to play against, Tryamkin has the strength and reach to ride a lot of players right into the ice, Pedan may make the team and he doesn’t earn a cheque by turning the other cheek. Up front Sutter, while not a particularly hard player is more hard-nosed than average and isn’t the type to get pushed around. And I can’t be the only one anticipating an uptick in Virtanen’s murder count next season. Horvat and Gaunce are both big boys and are in the process of learning how best to use that, even Baertschi, not the biggest of guys has learned how to get dirty and like it. Most of the rest of the roster is made up of players like Etem, Burrows, and Edler who aren’t the type to get rag-dolled like McCann did last year. And of course horninggraevling still don’t care. On top of that there is a better than not chance that Benning will sign an FA with some size and/or truculence (Brouwer/Lucic/Martin?)

    It isn’t the promised land yet but it should be an improvement on last year.

    • detox

      I liked the physical play we saw from JV last season. But unsure if he should start the season in Utica to get his offensive game going or start with the big club.

      I love seeing forwards go in hard on the fore check. Where the opposing defense are hearing foot steps and rushed to get the puck out because they don’t want to get hit, and they cough it up..

      Like you say, I guess we’ll have to wait and see who JB signs, I just like a few guys with some snarl, who go out and look for body contact and keep the other team on their toes.

      I am happy we got Gudbranson, but I liked the ‘don’t back down’ attitude that McCann brought. not willing to turn the other cheek. Even if McCann didn’t have the size.

      We are improving. younger, faster. I just want to ensure we have a club that will stick up for each other. Dorsett, to his credit, is always there.

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    Are we for real here? This guy should have been traded before Benning had to deal with this mess, maybe back then he was worth a 7th not npw or 3 drafts ago.

    He is done in this league, Goodbye.

  • Cageyvet

    Are we for real here? This guy should have been traded before Benning had to deal with this mess, maybe back then he was worth a 7th not npw or 3 drafts ago.

    He is done in this league, Goodbye.

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    Are we for real here? This guy should have been traded before Benning had to deal with this mess, maybe back then he was worth a 7th not npw or 3 drafts ago.

    He is done in this league, Goodbye.