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Photo Credit: © Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Canucks deadline pickups Bowey and Highmore both looking forward to increased opportunity with their new club

The Canucks managed to get two players out of the three deals they made on Monday’s Trade Deadline, both of which came from the Chicago Blackhawks in separate deals. Madison Bowey and Matthew Highmore were introduced to Vancouver media for the first time yesterday afternoon.

There’s no secret that the Canucks need help, a miracle (or a combination of the two) and quick, as they currently sit 10 points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the fourth and final playoff spot.

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Highmore was asked with all the success he’s had at the AHL level, how far away he is from contributing at some level offensively in the NHL.

“I do believe I’m close, I don’t believe it’s necessarily from a lack of chances. I think I had a good amount of them [this year], It’s just that sometimes they don’t go in, but I think I’m close. Sometimes it’s a little bit of a confidence thing too, I’m just looking to do anything to help the team.”

Highmore played 24 games for the Blackhawks this season, tallying only two assists and posting a plus-minus rating of -5. He touched on proving himself and showing his worth at the NHL level.

“It’s super exciting [the opportunity]. I just want to be able to play, to help the team in any way, it doesn’t matter how. We’re hockey players, we love to play the game. Sometimes it’s hard to be on the outside watching.”

The recent COVID-19 situation has affected almost every member of the Canucks locker room and has been at the forefront of conversation for the last few weeks, but Highmore says he’s not overly concerned about the recent outbreak.

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“Certainly not worried. You know, what has transpired here is terrible. I feel so bad for the guys, but it’s one of those things that throughout the season we’re just going to have to adapt. With all the health and safety protocols, I feel very safe coming into this environment.”

19 games in 31 days including six back to backs is what the Canucks are up against. That begins on Friday against the Edmonton Oilers.

“It’s been a crazy year. Every team has had to adapt to different scenarios. 19 games in 31 days is going to be a challenge, but every team has faced similar challenges. You have to go with the ebbs and flows and take care of your body.”

Vancouver is sitting in the middle of the pack on the penalty kill this season at 78.6%. The upcoming stretch of games will be difficult to get into after having over three weeks in between games. With tired players, penalties are more likely, so keeping the puck out of the net — especially on special teams — will be a massive focus. Highmore was asked if he’s comfortable and capable of spending some time shorthanded.

“I have, not always on a consistent basis, but certainly in the minors, and a good portion last year and in the bubble as well. [Penalty killing] has always been a part of my game and I would like to bring that if it’s required of me.”

Highmore is in Vancouver and has begun his 7 day quarantine. He’ll be set to join his teammates as early as Tuesday April 20th.

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Madison Bowey spoke with the media from the Dallas airport as he waited for his connecting flight to Vancouver. Although the wifi connection had its struggles, the very well spoken Bowey said all the right things.

Early talks are that Bowey may be the seventh defenceman the rest of the season, but with so many games in so little time, he might get a few chances at some point. He was asked what the club expected out of him for the rest of this year.

“I talked a little yesterday to Jim Benning and Travis Green. My main goal is to come in and get a little bit of opportunity to play. My goal this year is to get games. I’m still young and I’m still developing. I just need to play a bit more and work on my game, but I think this is going to be a great fit for me.”

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The 25 year old played 53 games for the Detroit Red Wings last season. He finished with 17 points (3-14-17). The Chicago Blackhawks signed him to a two-year $1.45 million deal in January. He only saw the ice twice for the club, registering one assist. Bowey was asked about his breakthrough year with Detroit and the challenges he faced this season with the Blackhawks.

“I know I can play in this league and I know what I’m capable of doing. For me it’s just focusing on the little areas, working hard and continuing to build my game. I’m a well rounded two way defenceman who can help on both ends of the ice, but it has been a battle mentally this year, but I think that has strengthened my game and my character. I’m ready to come in there and battle for a spot and compete.”

Bowey has ties to the province, having played his junior hockey for the Kelowna Rockets. He says he’s excited for the opportunity to return to B.C. and thinks Vancouver can be a long term fit.

“My goal is to make Vancouver my home for a long time. In Washington I had some good success there. It was a tough, older team to crack. I played some really good games with some true pros. I’ve been able to learn from them and make the most of those opportunities. I’m wanting to come in here and do my best. I can’t say it’s my last shot, but I’m treating it like that. My goal is to develop here and be a big piece of the puzzle for years to come.”

Bowey mentioned it’ll be nice seeing some familiar faces in the dressing room. Maybe that’s exactly what he needs to build his confidence.

“That’s the coolest thing about coming to Vancouver. I played with Jake Virtanen in the World Juniors. I played with Braden Holtby and Jay Beagle in Washington. Nate Schmidt I didn’t get to play with much [in Washington], but I got to know him. Travis Boyd’s there now, who I came up the ranks in the Washington organization. Seeing those faces will make me more comfortable when I come in and I think that’ll really help me get my game going.”

Sometimes, the real hard pressing questions need to be asked. Especially if you’re on Canucks Twitter, some people don’t even really care who the player is. The real question they want to know the answer to is if players have any pets, which Bowey was asked to close out his availability.

“My girlfriend and I actually got a dog at the beginning of the pandemic. For me, not playing much this year, it’s been great to come home to a great family and a little puppy has made things more enjoyable. He’s definitely coming and will be joining me in Vancouver in a few weeks.

We all know the legend of Braden Holtby running into some issues at the border while getting his tortoises across, so if someone wants to go ahead and make sure Madison has all the paperwork required to make sure he gets reunited with his dog in a timely fashion, I’m sure he’d appreciate it.

Bowey’s current deal expires at the end of next season, and he will become a UFA.