Trade Deadline Thoughts: Canucks acquire Maxim Lapierre and Christopher Higgins

No, the Canucks didn’t need to do much by today’s trade deadline day. After all, as of this morning, they were leading the entire NHL with 87 points. They also ranked 1st in offense (3.27 G/game), 1st in defense (2.30 GA/game), 2nd on the PP (24.8%), 3rd on the PK (85.6%) and 1st in faceoffs (55.4%).

It’s true they’ve been on a bit of a slump recently. But that’s only if you consider a 5-5 record in their last 10 games a slump.

That said, it’s no secret the Canucks needed to acquire a fourth-line center. This season, they’ve tried about 8 different players in that role, including top prospect Cody Hodgson. In two separate deals, GM Mike Gillis addressed this need and then some.

First, the Canucks acquired C/RW Maxim Lapierre and minor-leaguer MacGregor Sharp from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Manitoba Moose C Joel Perrault and a 3rd round draft pick in 2012.

Lapierre gives the Canucks a couple of things: a fourth-line center and some added sandpaper to the roster. He’s big (6’2″, 207 lbs.), speedy as hell, is a pain in the ass to play against, and in limited ice-time with the Habs and Ducks, has won 54.6% of his faceoffs. He’s also averaging just a shade under 12 minutes per game.

There’s a perception – a fair one, IMHO – that Lapierre takes some bad penalties, but a quick look at his stats show he’s only taken 16 minor penalties in 59 games this season. What might help is Alain Vigneault has coached him in the past so I’m sure the Canucks have some comfort level with him.

Oh, and did I mention that he’s a pain in the ass to play against?

Second, the Canucks acquired C/LW Christopher Higgins from the Florida Panthers for depth defenseman Evan Oberg and a 3rd round pick in 2013.

Higgins gives the Canucks some flexibility in the lineup. When he returns from a broken finger, he’s expected to play in the bottom-six and on the PK. He averages just over 13 minutes in ice-time per game, 2 minutes of which are on the PK. Between Lapierre, Higgins and Glass, the Canucks could potentially now have a fourth line capable of playing in double-digit minutes of ice-time every game.

Not too long ago, Higgins was a 20-goal scorer. In fact, he recorded 23, 22 and 27 goals in three consecutive seasons from 2005 to 2008 with the Montreal Canadiens. The Canucks probably don’t expect him to rediscover his scoring touch – at least I don’t think they expect him to be a 20-goal scorer – but his presence gives them some options if anyone from the second and third lines need a kick in the ass. (Watch your back, Mason Raymond.)

Higgins actually had a decent start for the Panthers this season. In 48 games, he has 11 goals and 12 assists – one point while shorthanded and none on the PP. His 22 ES points is only a couple back from David Booth, Stephen Weiss, Michael Frolik and Marty Reasoner. As a point of comparison, he has more ES points than any Canucks bottom-six forward.

No, the Canucks didn’t make a splash on trade deadline day, but they did acquire smaller pieces without giving up anyone from their league-leading roster.

Did they do enough? We’ll find out in a little more than two months.

J.J. Guerrero

Founder and Executive Editor of Canucks Hockey Blog. Proud Canadian, hardcore Canucks fan. I would like nothing more than watching the Canucks win the Stanley Cup. Against the Leafs.

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