In 2002, the Montreal Canadiens selected Chris Higgins 14th overall in the NHL-entry draft. Since then, there have been heaps of hype, hope, and criticism piled around the 25 year-old from Smithtown, New York. He’s been a top-line winger, a two-way forward, a checking line center. He’s been hot, cold, on streaks, in slumps, a future captain, and an oft trade rumour.
Through the injuries, the speculation, and the droughts, Higgins has kept a smile on his face, sweat on his brow, and the "A" on his jersey.
Is this the year that Higgins proves his worth and silences his critics? Is this the year he consistently showcases his offensive talents?
Is this the year we find out just how good Christopher Higgins really is?
I’ve always been a fan of CH.
I think he has the potential to be a 40-goal scorer. A powerplay specialist. A penalty killah. A captain.
Higgins broke into the league with a great rookie campaign in 05/06, notching 23 goals and 38 points. In his sophomore season, he was just beginning to catch fire when he went down with a left ankle injury during a 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils in November 2006. After missing nearly 1/4 of the season with that sprain and "The Flu", Higgins never really regained his on-ice confidence. On a disappointing Habs team that year, Higgy did manage to finish with a respectable 22 goals and matched his rookie point total. He was -11 through 60 games.
Last season, while the Kovalev line took center stage, Higgins quietly potted himself 27 goals and 25 assists, improved to a zero (+/-) rating, and played in all 82 games. All that while routinely shaking hands with new linemates or trying to work miracles with a slumping Michael Ryder.
Not producing at the pace most had hoped, Higgins’ name has been thrown into every possible trade rumour in the last two years: Higgins for Gaborik. Higgins for Hossa. Higgins for Sundin. Higgins for Riberio (oops – was I not supposed to leak that one yet?). It’s silly to think that a player with the potential of Higgins would so routinely be considered trade bait. There is consistent and universal praise of the Habs farm system and it’s foolish to think that the organization would invest so much time and money in players just to trade them away.
Higgins is here for a while and he’s going to be damned good.
This season, after rehabbing a groin strain, Higgins finds himself on Line 1A with slicksters Saku Koivu and Alex Tanguay. With Tuesday’s hat trick, Higgy is on pace for 43 goals and 76 points. Of course, that’s only if you believe in math.
With ultra-talented linemates, surging confidence, and some hard-earned experience, the fourth-year forward is poised for a breakout season. The key for Higgins is to stay healthy and keep his head held high. If he can do that, Higgins will firmly establish himself as one of the top forwards in this league.
What do you think? Who is Christopher Higgins?
1st line winger? Two way forward? Checking line center? Next in line to get traded?