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.